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The Mommy 'Hood

When Maddie started kindergarten, she
already knew a half-dozen kids in her school from our neighborhood
playgroup. She walked into school that first day part of a gang,
and knew that at recess she’d meet up with her friends and
have playmates ready-made, no awkward first-meeting stuff to deal
with. And when the kids had to go into the school by themselves for
the first time, with her posse all held hands to give each other
moral support, a string of kindergarteners stronger than their
individual parts.

I’ve got my own posse too – all the moms who stand
outside and anxiously watch their babies walk into school, away
from them. And I have to tell you, I don’t know what
I’d do without my homies.

Any given week, you will hear messages fly
across cell phones or emails that sound something like this:
“Hey, I was just at the school dropping of Becca’s
lunch, and I wanted you to know I saw Maddie in her classroom and
she was playing well and had a big smile on her face.”
“Just thought you’d like to know that I was
volunteering in the library and Elise’s class walked by
– Elise was line leader! Isn’t that great?”

We are an elite network of Mommy spies, always looking out for our
own, and when any piece of intel is spied – one child being
bullied, or a little girl doing an unnoticed good deed – the
jungle drums sound and the news is passed on.

Honestly, I cannot tell you how much this means to me. I know that
if I cannot be at a “parent optional” event, a friend
of mine will make sure and get two copies of every handout, as well
as ask every single obsessive question she thinks I might ask if I
was there. Another friend knows that if she is working and misses a
big school event, there are three other mommies taking copious
pictures of her son so she won’t entirely miss the big event.

Take last Friday. There were two huge events – a fun run
fundraiser for Maddie’s school, and the kindergarten
class’s first field trip of the year. The fun run was set up
outside; students raised pledges of money-for-laps, then ran as
many as they could on the field. Parents were invited, but not
required. Several of us were there, but a few couldn’t make
it. We all gathered inside the track, dotted throughout the length
of it. Every time we saw a child we knew, we’d start cheering
wildly. “Go, Cody! Yeah, Emma! Way to go, Hannah!”
Regardless of whose child it actually was, we took ownership for
that moment. And I have to tell you, when I heard,
“You’re doing great, Maddie!” float across from
the other end of the track, I started crying, overwhelmed by the
moms there. I snapped blurry photo after blurry photo of every kid
in the gang, happy to be able to take pictures of them all.

I love that when one of “our” moms comes for lunch with
her child at school, all the kids reap the rewards. I’ve
eaten with Maddie once this year, and as I sat up on the designated
parents’ area and looked at all the kids, I caught the eye of
half a dozen other children. Every single time, they looked up,
delighted, and waved ecstatically. I was a surrogate mom for them
and made them a little less alone in the big bad world of
kindergarten, and I know that when Maddie gushed about
Elise’s mommy coming to lunch another day, the same thing
happened to her.

But I said there were two events last Friday, and here’s how
the field trip played out. And sorry in advance Maddie – I
know you’ll be mortified at this when you’re older.

Maddie, as we all know, has a pooping problem – she holds it
for psychological reasons, then will infrequently have accidents in
her underpants. The day before the field trip, Maddie had a huge
accident after school, and casually mentioned that she’d had
a small one at school and changed into her spare panties there.

I am terrified that Maddie will have an accident one day and the
kids will notice, and it will follow her the rest of her scholastic
life. I worry that these things will happen and I’m unable to
save her from them – to save her from herself. And after
Maddie’s accident on Thursday, and I was panicking about her
field trip the next day – I was certain she wouldn’t
have her backpack and spare pair of panties with her.

Fortunately, I had a secret weapon – another Mommy.
Elise’s mom was going along as a room mom, and that morning I
slipped her a clean pair of underpants for her purse. She
understood immediately, and I knew that she’d keep an eye out
for Maddie. If Maddie started the Poopy Dance, Mary would be
running over there, helping out, cleaning up. Mary would throw my
child under her arm like a football and dash for the bathroom if
she needed to. In short, she had my back.

And if that weren’t enough, another ‘hood Mommy was
going, so I had double back-up. And while I know we’re
supposed to treat every kid equally, yadda yadda yadda, I also know
that these mommies keep an eye on “our” kids: they
would vault over auditorium chairs to slap down a bully being mean
to one of the gang, regardless of whether or not it was their
assigned area for the day. My kids get preferred treatment from the
‘hood, and I’m ok with that.

I’m happy to say that the field trip was uneventful and the
spare panties weren’t needed. I knew right away it was a
success, long before Maddie got out of school: within minutes of
the bus getting back to the school, I had two separate phone calls
saying something like “Just so you know, the trip was fine,
Maddie’s safe and she had a great time.”

The jungle drums sounded. My posse has my back, and it is of
infinite comfort.


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