Daycare Noir

27 07 2014


I don’t get to pick up Ellis at school very often – my dad usually does it – so when I do it can get kind of weird.

I’m not so sure we should call it “school”. I feel the educational environment is less than rigorous. She has to pack a swimsuit all the time in case they have a “water day”.

So it’s a Thursday – around 3pm. It’s somewhere just south of 100 degrees. It was my afternoon off and for some reason I had decided to go for a run earlier. Large fat people shouldn’t run in 100 degree heat. This was my lesson for the day. I was pretty sure I had a second degree burn just from thigh chafing.

I was looking SWEET for my child pick-up. Long, baggy, shiny-black shorts. Birkenstocks complimented by ankle socks. A sweat-wicking neon yellow running shirt that was a tad snug – revealing just a hint of the outline of my belly-button and possibly suggesting to an unkind observer that I might be well advised to add a sports bra to my ensemble.

I looked GOOD is what I’m saying.

There is an alarm code that needs to be entered to get to the classrooms. I know the code but on this day my brain was a bit oxygen deprived and it was using the functioning brain cells to monitor my thigh pain so after three incorrect attempts the lock pad started making a noise. A loud noise. A fire alarm type noise.

I stood there, in front of the glass door, dripping sweat, looking longingly and pitifully inside. Somewhere in there was my child. But I would never get there.

Fortunately the blaring siren I set off drew the teachers from their rooms. A couple stared at me for a second and whispered to each other. Apparently they decided I looked SO lame that I wasn’t even considered a threat to be a possible pedophile – so they let me in. (Interestingly I felt vaguely insulted by this).

“Ellis” I said to the teachers and they just nodded and pointed to the correct room – as if they had been expecting me in all my glory.

I trudged up the hall, inundated by the lame artwork of 3 and 4 year olds that we were supposed to be impressed by but instead seemed the product of demented surrealist painters with untreated palsies and a fetish for hand prints.

Inside the classroom the kids were milling about. I saw Ellis’s blonde curls over in a corner with two other kids. She was lecturing them about something or other – probably explaining that “sharing” meant that she got to do whatever she wanted with their stuff. Ellis is good at that kind of sharing. She saw me and waved.

“In a minute” she said.

The teacher walked up to say hi. She was very attractive – aside from some weird and wild eyebrows that needed some tending. Then I realized she was probably about the same age as my stepdaughter and I threw up in my mouth a little.

“We just LOVE Ellis!” she said. “So much PERSONALITY!”

I wonder if this is the sort of compliment/warning I will be receiving on report cards about Ellis for the next decade – eventually followed by the phrase “We were wondering if you were interested in getting some medical treatment for Ellis’s PERSONALITY”. Sigh.

I gathered E’s backpack from her hook and turned to go find her. I tripped and realized I almost crushed a little guy that was staring straight up in the air at me. He had brown hair and a cow-lick that pretty much covered his whole head. A glob of grape jelly was on the front of his Spider-Man t-shirt and he had a scab under his left nostril.

“Are you a GIANT?” he asked. He seemed pretty calm considering he thought I might be a fairy tale villain.

“Uh – sort of”, I said. “Are you a dwarf?”

“No – I’m Dwaymon” he said.

“Draymon?” I asked.

“NO! – Dwwaaaayyymon” he said – looking exasperated. I suspected he had this conversation a lot. “Will you play tic-tac-toe with me?”

I didn’t want to play tic-tac-toe with him. He was a little grimy and I could just picture tiny viral particles oozing from his snotty and scabby nose. Plus I was afraid he might win.

“Cwiss Cwoss Applesauce” he said and plopped down cross-legged.

Defeated, I slowly creaked into a sitting position, my long sore legs straight in front of me.

“Cwiss Cwoss Applesauce” he ordered. I complied because his tone was authoritative and I am a natural follower.

He had some paper and a crayon and he handed them to me and stared. Just stared. Like he was daring me to start. I was, quite frankly, intimidated.

I took the paper and made the small checkerboard we needed. I offered him first move. He just shook his head, still staring. A little cocky, I thought.

I decided to be “X” because DUH, everyone wants to be “X” and took the center square. I wanted this little person to know I wasn’t some sort of rube. I thought about asking him if he wanted to make it interesting with a little side bet but I noticed his shorts only had fake pockets so I doubted he had much cash.

He took the paper and studied it. And studied it. And studied it. I was becoming convinced he might be having a petite mal seizure.

Finally he began to write. He scribbled a mark (it wasn’t even a decent circle!) in three straight squares and handed it back. “I win!” he yelled.

I started to call for the teacher so I could lodge a complaint about blatant cheating but stopped myself. I would let the prison system deal with this kid in due time.

Ellis came by to rescue me – tugging me to my feet. The kid (Draymon?) got up as well – wiping his nose on his sleeve and staring at me the whole time – as if waiting for me to make a false move.

Ellis said, “Hi Blaymond – this is my Daddy. ” Blaymond?

I put down a hand to shake in what I thought was a traditional male greeting. He just stared at it, then up at me.

“Ellis is your Daddy a GIANT?” he asked.

Ellis just shook her head, like she fielded this particular question all the time. “No – he just looks like a Giant. Giants hoard GOLD. He doesn’t have any gold. ”

I nodded. I did not, in fact, have any gold.

“We’ll see you later Brayden” I said.

“DDWWAAYYMON!” he yelled.

“BBLLAAAYYMON” Ellis yelled.

I just nodded again, thinking I had never realized speech impediments came in such rich and interesting varieties.

On the way out Ellis held my hand and we looked at the pictures on the wall. One had the name “Raymond” at the bottom.

“Is his name Raymond?” I asked Ellis.

She gave me a look that said “DUH”.

“I’m not sure I trust that Raymond” I said to Ellis as we got to the car.

“Me neither” said Ellis. “He spits sometimes.”

“Yeah” I said. “I hate that.”

“Daddy” Ellis stared at me. “Why are you walking funny?”

“Thigh chafe ” I said.

“Yeah” said Ellis. “I hate that.

The End



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