Monday, April 16, 2007

In which it becomes patently obvious that I am, indeed, one of the world's great idiots.

Here in the county of my residence, they (the public school system) have a little something called " year-round school." Year-round school is pretty cool, and a good idea for those school systems that are overburdened with too many scholars and not enough dollars to build shiny new schools for them so that they're not squeezed into classrooms with a zillions other kiddos and one poor beleaguered teacher who isn't getting paid enough anyhow to deal with the precious darlins.

The deal is that there are 4 groups of students assigned to "tracks" 1 through 4. Each track represents approximately one-quarter of the student population. Each track goes to school for 9 weeks, then gets approximately 3 weeks off. So, for example, track 1 goes to school for 9 weeks starting the week after July 4th (which EVERYONE has off), then they get 3 weeks off. Track 2 starts back in three weeks after track one, track 3 starts 3 weeks after track 2 (having gone to school for a few weeks while track one was out, then taking THEIR vacation before starting back in again), and so on.

See? Take a look at the trackout schedule for yourself and figger it out:

The upshot of this is that there is always ONE track out on break while the other three tracks are in school, thereby allowing approximately 25% MORE students to utilize the school building than if everyone went to school on the same schedule. It's a pretty cool idea, and works great for kids and parents alike because vacations can be taken at more random times during the year, there are no super-long school breaks to survive during which a third of what was learned the previous year is forgotten, and the routine of school is never really broken.

All in all, not a bad system.
It works really well for most parents, particularly for those kinds of parents who are right on top of the kids' schedules and rotations into and out of school on their trackouts.

Those kinds of parents don't include me.

See, uh, the Things have been out of school for OVER three weeks. I counted! Today was the day they tracked back in! Routine, blessed routine was to arrive again at last - no more hanging out at home with them trying to work while they play endless PS2, no more feeling guilty about not enriching their minds while I try to work, no more wishing for a quiet office and the company of friends at work while I'm spending this quality time with my wonderful children, no more bickering to listen to, because, YIPPEE! they were going back to school!! I felt like the guy in the old Office Depot commercial (or was it Staples?), riding on my shopping cart while "it's the most wonderful time of the year" plays happily in the background.

Yup - today, Monday the 16th, was the day they went back to school and I went back to work, and the pendulum could swing back into "all is as it SHOULD be" territory.

Except somebody was holding onto the counterweight.


Oh yes, early this morning I got the Things up, showered, brushed, the snacks packed, the lunch money doled out, we were all freshly scrubbed and dressed and in the carpool lines in plenty of time. All was right with the world, I purchased a lovely Mexican Latte as a treat after a successfull deployment maneuver and was headed for work when the phone rang.
It was from an unfamiliar, yet local, number.

"Ms Tiff? (not my real name) This is Mrs X, Thing 2's teacher. We don't track in until Thursday."

"Oh no."

"I've got Thing 2 settled down with some hugs, and he's in the office waiting for you to come get him. I was here for a teacher workday, and am glad I got him."

"Oh no."

"You might want to call the middle school and tell them you're coming to get Thing 1."

"Oh no. I don't know their number."

"Just a sec, I'll get it for you."

"Oh, thanks."

Yup. I'm THAT parent. The one that doesn't check the calendar, the one that drops their child off at random intervals at school just to see if anybody will take them, the one that is so obtuse that she doesn't even know when her kids are supposed to be in school.

In my defense, I did count. They WERE out for three weeks. Who the heck starts back to school on a THURSDAY?

So, call the middle school, swing back to the elementary school to pick up the tear-stained Thing 2 (bless his tender heart) who told me that all the OTHER kids in the office (of which there were 5) were other kids who were also in Track 4 and whose parents dropped them off also thinking that today was the BIG DAY at last, then ride around to the middle school to collect the breezy and unflappable Thing 1, who was nothing short of giddy that he didn't HAVE to do school today, and head back home.

Where, for three more days I get to enjoy the sounds of Lego Star Wars on PS2 and background noise and working on my laptop in my bedroom and getting to avoid the 90 minutes of commute. I can deal with it. The eyebrow twitch isn't really THAT bothersome, and the teeth I'm grinding needed a little smoothing down anyhow.

It's the least I can do to overcome the shame of being "that" parent.

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