Crazy Momma Syndrome
This year our one and only baby went off bravely into the world of public education, alone and dewy-eyed. This scared me. Me--as in MOM--me. In education this phenomenon is called "Crazy Momma Syndrome." It is the fears of parents controlling them to act irrationally and radically.
Let me just state that I am not by definition a Crazy Momma. First of all, I am not a crier. I have not, to date, shed one tear about my baby leaving the nest and frankly think it is a bit silly. My girl is ready for the world and who am I to hold it back from her. School is great. I loved learning and I want my baby to know all the answers to her endless questions. Secondly, I don't sweat public education and the endless debates that some parents have about curriculum, violence in schools, drugs in schools, and on and on. In another life, before I honed my pb&j skills, I was a high school English teacher in rough-neck part of my county. I loved it. I love a hard-to-reach kid. A little diamond in the rough. I know all the worst-case scenarios that can happen in a school. I saw many of them. But I also know my rights as a parent operating within public education. I know who and what services to ask for, and which things to demand by law.
But what scared me the most was my daughter riding the bus. I'm sure many people are furrowing their brows now in confusion. Yes. The bus. Remember the bus? That behemoth yellow smoker? That grey area between Big Brother School and the peace of home. Perhaps your memories are a little different than my own. Here's how my memories go: In kindergarten I rode the bus to a private school way out in the country. Our bus consisted of everyone in our town who went to that school. K-12 rode that bus. I was often harassed into letting the Seniors push my cheeks together and play "Chubby Bunny" with me. Needless to say, one day my sisters weren't able to ride the bus home with me and the thought of facing "Chubby Bunny" alone terrified me so much that I wet my pants five minutes before I had to board the bus. In high school I rode the "Late" bus that went out of district. For some reason every soon-to-be felon rode it with me and my brother. Our bus was an old one--we were never sure if it had brakes because they squealed so loudly when pressure was applied that the driver just coasted us around corners on two wheels mostly. Our bus driver was Native American; you didn't dare call her Black or she would hit the brakes and you would hit the dash that like one boy did. She was friendly and waved you on the bus with her acrylic nails. She was proud of them, especially of the figures on her nails that were doing it "doggy style." And you did not ask what was in her bag from the peek-a-boo shop. She was a laid back driver, so it didn't matter what you did on the bus as long as you got off in a quick manner somewhere. So people felt free to indulge. Our bus always smelled sweet.
You see now how the bus might freak me out? During the week leading up to my baby riding the bus I told my husband for the first time the story of how I wet my pants. My daughter laughed. And then she got serious. She began thinking about it too hard. I had to tell her that I wet my pants because I couldn't get to the bathroom in time--true, sort of. All I could see was my baby in wet pants crying on a street corner somewhere in the county because she got off at the wrong stop.
Eventually I had to face facts. My baby was going to get lost if I didn't teach her how to ride the bus, get to class, ride the bus home, and get off at the right stop. So we paced it. We walked to the bus stop and took note of the landmarks around so that she would get off at the right places. I took her to school and made her TALK TO STRANGERS (teachers) and ask for help getting to her class without me. I inquired about bus loading and unloading procedures. I let her ride and I drove to school to make sure she got there. Yes. I did that. And I don't care.
And here's what I learned: We're all Crazy Mommas about something. Parents have fears because they love their kids. They always want to see them fly instead of fall. Only really crazy parents--the ones who don't care--don't worry. Yes, on the second day of bus riding my daughter didn't go in the doorway that led to her class and ended up all the way across the school--somehow--in the cafeteria. My mommy heart jumped, but before I could say, "That's it! No more bus!" she told me that she just asked a teacher to take her to the right hall. A wise man once said, "Teach them well and they govern themselves." I was proud that my girl figured things out on her own. I'm glad that she's fearless. And that--that fearless confidence about the world--that comes from crazy preparation from parents. And for that, I am proud that this momma went a little crazy this year.