Today, we met Charlie's first teacher ever. I'm fairly certain she thinks I'm nuts. I'm absolutely certain I can't actually blame her.

Since T is for "teacher," I will call Charlie's new teacher "Miss T." This name also seems fitting because she may need to channel Mr. T to keep Charlie in line — an image at the heart of my meltdown today.

The visit started off well enough. We met her at the base of the tall flight of brick steps leading to the pre-K building and promptly had to find a new entrance, since we had Charlie and Mary Emma in a double-stroller.

I suppose this is part of parenthood — always imagining, fearing, worrying and bracing.

I hadn't been in an elementary school since before my mom retired as a first grade teacher. I hadn't been in an elementary school since long before Newtown, Connecticut. As we circled the building, Miss T's keys jingling, I did what every parent must do at some point: I silently thanked God for the security of locked doors... and I pictured the worst.

I suppose this is part of parenthood — always imagining, fearing, worrying and bracing. I wondered if I would ever get used to it (even while knowing the answer).

Once inside, the kids descended on a bucket of toys as the adults sat at one of those long elementary school tables that makes you feel like a bumbling giant with four knees.

All good. "I got this," I thought.

Typical agenda, atypical reaction

Miss T introduced us to a typical school day agenda. Nothing out of the ordinary: morning greetings, circle time, reading time, music time. But somehow, that list of everyday activities we do at home to some degree each day suddenly became an itinerary for baby boot camp.

  • I pictured Charlie fleeing circle time — repeatedly.
  • I envisioned Charlie bolting from reading time — effectively.
  • And I imagined my son screeching at the top of his lungs during music time — relentlessly.
So, I did what every parent must do at some point (just perhaps in private): I lost it.

To fully appreciate the horror of the scene, it may be helpful to know that while The Husband has a weakness for Hallmark commercials, I have nerves of steel. I do not falter. I hold it together. I think strategically and execute accordingly during life's most trying circumstances (e.g., Dunkin Donuts runs out of chocolate Munchkins).

And really, pregnancy hormones shouldn't play that big a role since I've essentially been pregnant for the better part of the past four years.

Nonetheless, I lost it. Eyes welled and flooded over. Nose began running. Breathing became slightly hyperventilated. Naturally, the cumulative effect was ugly. It felt like starting to giggle in church, fighting to quell the waves of laughter and instead finding myself shaking and snorting like a cocaine-addicted hyena.

But with tears.

Pass the tissues

Bless their hearts (as we say in the South), the two teachers in the room swore they understood, that I wasn't the only one and that it was going to be just fine.

I swore that my meltdown did not reflect a lack of confidence in their capabilities.

The Husband looked on in shock and awe, interjecting with a glint in his eye, 'Your baby is leaving you,' and, 'Your baby isn't a baby anymore.' Thanks, dear.

The Husband looked on in shock and awe, interjecting with a glint in his eye, "Your baby is leaving you," and, "Your baby isn't a baby anymore." Thanks, dear.

I pulled it together for the rest of the visit. When we pushed the stroller back into the outside world, the skies had opened and a gentle rain was falling. As I swooped to pull the shades over each child's head, Charlie shoved his back again, turning his face up toward the rain.

"Let me do it my way, Mom!" his face scowled.

Oh, just pass the Kleenex already.

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Photography by Stephanie DeMoss Stum

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