Zee Words

Here’s what I remember about my high school accounting class: FIFO and LIFO, something about inventory, milk on shelves. The rest is long gone. I was a senior, and this was one of those courses that seniors took and subsequently blew off…well, at least this senior. I remember spending a lot of time sitting in the back of the class with my friend, Matt, writing down as many words as we could think of that started with a particular letter. Productive? No. But, I must have improved my vocabulary.

Caroline’s schooling has officially begun. She started pre-school this week. I was more nervous than she, though she did whine a bit more than usual the first morning. I knew she was going to be fine. I was more afraid that I was going to screw up. There was room for error—no sandals allowed and I had waited until the 11th hour to buy her a new pair of sneaks. We went to Target and there was one pair of size 10’s left. That’s the pair we walked out with, even though they were blue, green, and pink—not exclusively pink. I had to buy Lexi a matching pair in order to convince Caroline that these were THE shoes. I had not purchased the school tote since I had bags to spare, but I wondered if pre-schoolers would notice that Caroline was walking in with a New Yorker bag—too pretentious? (When I used to get the New Yorker, I read the cartoons.) And then there’s the car line drop-off. I was considering doing a late-night dry-run, just so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

I did not do the dry run, but I did arrive about 15 minutes early according to my car clock (25 according to my phone clock, which, as it turns out, has the correct time). We were very first in line. Thankfully, Lexi was delirious from sleep deprivation, so she was in rare form, all sorts of giggles, and the time passed quickly. Mrs. Zee, the Head of the School, was the first to welcome us. She opened Caroline’s door, unsnapped her from the car seat, grabbed the pretentious tote, and they walked together through the school doors. I remembered to get the car out of “Park”. And Lexi and I drove off, committing all sorts of traffic violations as we went wee-wee-wee all the way home, in order to get Lexi into bed so she could sleep off the sillies until I had to roust her in time to retrieve Caroline by 3 o’clock.

The digital clock in my kitchen read 2:45, and by the time I climbed sixteen stairs, Lexi’s bedroom clock read 3:00. I whispered, “Hi, Honey Boo, I’m so sorry to wake you up.” Her little butt was in the air; her face pressed into the sheet; her hair was sweaty and wild; her breathing was steady. “Lexi-Loo…”

She sat upright: “Where’s Cee-Cee?” (Her nickname for Caroline.) I told her that we had to pick her sister up at school, and like a firewoman on call, she stood up and grabbed the side of the crib—ready for duty.

Lexi and I were not the first responders. From the main road, I could see the car line disappear to nothing as I sat behind a very large truck at a very long light. I imagined Caroline’s conversation with her teacher: “Well, it looks like you’ll have to take me home and feed me dinner. I like macaroni and cheese, the white kind, an occasional turkey meatball, and I’m just starting to get into salsa.” When we did arrive, the Head of School—the very same one who welcomed us—held Caroline by hand and tote, and chatted about shoes as she scooted my daughter up into the car seat. “You can just buckle her in right here,” she said to me. “You’re the last one.”

I felt myself blush when I said, “First In Last Out!” I don’t think she smiled. I mumbled something about teachers talking about me in the faculty room, but by the time I finished with Caroline’s straps, Mrs. Zee was long gone. Zip. Zoom. Zap.

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