Horror Story from Meet The Teacher Night

This piece has no general point. There's nothing to be learned from this except that I'm a dork and you should never bring a Gulp...no...a Super Big Gulp to a meeting.

Last night was the "Meet the teacher" night where parents were asked to attend. My wife couldn't make it home in time so I dragged the five children along with me. They were excited just to be going to the school at night.

When I arrived I set them up in the back of the cafeteria with coloring books and crayons and they were being as good as gold. But then there were a few other parents who came in with their children and they just started dropping their children off at my table and leaving. I was a little stunned but I started thinking that maybe they thought the school was providing an area for the children to play. They weren't. It was just me with my four mobile kids and my one stuck in the stroller(who wasn't happy because there was no food being put in her mouth.) One boy was dropped off. He said his name was Joey. And I could tell just the way you can tell sometimes that Joey was going to be a problem. Joey didn't know from inside voice. And Joey didn't know standing still.

So I'm trying to pull a miracle of loaves and fishes with the paper and crayons for them. I'm trying to keep the baby quiet, listen to the speech/instructions from the school Principal, take part in the prayer, and sign in while watching four of my mobile children and thirteen other children who look vaguely familiar to me and over whom I have no real authority whatsoever (and I was pretty sure they knew it, especially Joey.)

The baby begins suddenly rocking back and forth wildly in her stroller because some of the children (Joey) are laughing at her when she does it. And did I mention the place is blazing hot. I mean hot hot. Like practice for hell hot. Catholic schools don't do air conditioning.

So the baby needs a change of pace so I walk her a little up the aisle while still looking over my shoulder at the children, especially Joey who's now decided to get up to go to the water fountain. (I'm secretly resenting Joey- big time right now)

Now, because Joey got up all the kids get up and start wandering around like dazed primates. They don't even know why they got up. They just know that one of their own got up and there were no consequences so...it's get up time. So I'm trying to turn the stroller around to come back down the aisle to bring the consequences and then it happens. IT. The worst thing that could happen. In my efforts to turn around I knock over my soda. My Gulp. My Super Big Gulp. My 64 oz of black bubbly mess lands with a thud loud enough for everyone in the hottest cafeteria in the world to turn around and look at me. The baby heard the thud, got scared, turned her head quickly into the side of the stroller and is now inhaling all the air in the room in order to scream the scream of angry baby anguish in an echoing cafeteria. While she's still inhaling, the soda spreads rapidly under the chairs of everyone in a ten yard area.

Then the scream happens. Every person with eyes looks up at the sweaty irresponsible Dad who clearly isn't capable of watching his children. Then people look down on the floor at the expanding mess. They're lifting their feet. The speech stops.

I slowly reach over, pick up the screaming baby, put her on my shoulder, and begin dragging the stroller backwards down the aisle, leaving an oozy trail behind me like a carbonated slug. After a few seconds where I was the focal point of the entire universe, the speech starts up again and a few people moved down a few chairs to avoid the mess.

As I reached the back of the cafeteria I start for the first time wondering what I'm going to do when I feel a tap on my lower back. I turn around and there's Joey. He's holding two squares of toilet paper up to me. Joey had run into the bathroom and obtained two squares of toilet paper for me to clean up my mess. And suddenly I'm laughing because I feel like putting Joey up on my shoulder and praising him as the best child in the world. I also start laughing because the mess that I created would laugh at two squares. I'd need a kayak to navigate this puddle. It had tides it was so deep.

Suddenly, to my astonishment this brigade of unwanted children rushed into the cafeteria after finding a vast supply of toilet paper. They rushed into the puddle and were getting on their hands and knees on the shore of Lake Gulp and dropping their squares in. They'd pull it out, hug it close to their chests, and run back to the bathrooms leaving trails of soda behind them. And they loved it. Nothing better in the entire world other than a Ferris Wheel full of cookies rolling into the cafeteria would have been better to them. As they passed me on the way back to the bathroom they smiled excitedly, some mouthing words which I couldn't understand over the now whimpering baby.

I finally found a mop in a nearby storage closet and took care of the mess. My mess. Finally, we all went upstairs to meet the teachers. It was even hotter up there. Now, because I have three children currently in school we could stay for a few minutes in each room. In each of the rooms I noticed a few members from my team of child laborers by the soda stains on their shirts and pants. They'd wave to me. (Their parents did not) But me and the soda stain brigade are cool. We're home team. They had my back when things got...messy. I'll babysit them in the back of the hottest cafeteria in the world anytime.

Comments

  1. I love people.

    People are weird, people are perverse, people can mess you up...but people are also wonderful, chaotic good if you will.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ok Matthew, this is the BEST worst story ever. I have been there a million times and feel your pain, your astonishment at how things turn, and your amusement at the craziness of life with children. They don't get it--this life of grown ups and how we're supposed to be and what's acceptable and what's not-- and sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to join them. Thanks for the laugh!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Way to be cool when the going got hot (and Super-Gulp-Spilled-On-The-Floor-Messy). What a way to keep your sense of humor! I have to admit to chuckling out loud - and I have a sleeping baby nearby!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing this hilarious, delightful, insightful story. Kids can readily identify and easily relate to that dreadful feeling of 'being in trouble', and it's wonderful how they pitched in to help you out of that sticky, messy puddle of trouble you found yourself in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aw, man. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who has outings like this with the kids...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Forget people, I love children! What a great story!

    ReplyDelete
  7. And what a tribute to the parents and teachers who've instilled a sense of the "right thing to do" in these kids.

    Great story.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ha! I know your doppelganger, the sweet-faced child who smuggled a slimey / slurpee / slushy into my English IV class on Tuesday, and inadvertently sent it sloshing!

    Life is good.

    Mack, evil, wicked, godless, satanic, homosexuality-promoting, America bashing public-school teacher

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for this chuckle to start my day! Peace. ~~~mary

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh, this is wonderful. Laughter is great medicine ... Thank you!

    Net

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great story! Just like a rollercoaster, lots of ups and downs, fears and thrills in a short period of time. Though at the time, you might have thought it to be anything but short! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Matthew, I join your legions of fans especially for this wonderful story that touches all of us who have been through the crucible of parenthood--a state that ends, of course, when the last bit of earth hits the coffin lid.

    And of course there is no a/c in Catholic schools: that's what fans are for and fund-raisers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great story and great re-telling of it. Kids are great it's the stinking parents (myself included) that are a drag

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, God bless you! You are one fantastic dad!

    ReplyDelete
  15. If life wasn't messy, it wouldn't be fun.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks so much for sharing this comical story. Every parent can relate to this story in one way or another as we've all had our 'less than perfect' parenting moments. I also like your style of writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Reminds me of the time my daughter vomited all over (and I mean all over in three quick successions of vomiting) the back of church. I couldn't laugh at the time as I was juggling 4 kids, trying to keep them from running through it, listening the old ladies in back making nasty comments, and the stench, oh the stench. But now I can look back and laugh. I know God has a sense of humor or He wouldn't have made me a mother of 6! Thank God for children, how else would we gain humility?

    ReplyDelete
  18. It's a little dusty over here in NJ. Great story. Those two squares of TP!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I go everywhere with my diet coke too, so but for the grace of God, there go I.

    Thanks for the laugh. Love how all the kids pitched in and the adults sat there?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey wait a moment.a super gulp is only 48oz.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great story! "I'd need a kayak to navigate this puddle. It had tides it was so deep." LOLOLOLLL!!!

    We have a "Joey" at our Catholic school too. His name is "Jed" (John).

    Regards,
    Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for the funny coverage of your experience. Aren't children the most wonderful little characters? Always coming up with a surprise solution to our problems. They keep us young and how we need the laughs they provide! God bless them!
    Thanks for your wonderful blog--I so enjoy your sense of humor as do the friends I've sent CMR to.

    ReplyDelete
  23. thank you for this delightful story. we cannot say that we are pro-life and not be pro-child and pro-family. kudos to you for handling it like a real pro!
    I'll keep you all in my prayer.
    Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  24. When I arrived I set them up in the back of the cafeteria with coloring books and crayons and they were being as good as gold. But then there were a few other parents who came in with their children and they just started dropping their children off at my table and leaving. I was a little stunned but I started thinking that maybe they thought the school was providing an area for the children to play. They weren't.

    This reminds me of those days when my 2 and 4 year olds would bring to Mass their "church bags" which were filled with saints' books and kiddy Bibles. People around us started helping themselves as though they were at the library.

    What a look of surprise I'd sometimes get when, right the Mass ended, I'd politely ask for the return of the books. "They belong to my children," I'd say. After a few that had been gifts never made it back to us, I took to cautioning whoever was grabbing a book. "These are our books, and while we're happy to share them, we do want them back."

    ReplyDelete
  25. OK, I was about to comment on the post, but Connie's Daughter....what in the WORLD would make people think they could jsut "help themselves" to your stuff??? And then not hand it back???

    Wow. I'm completely shocked!

    OK, now to Matthew....thanks for this post, it's HILARIOUS and can I just say I think parents are the best people ever? LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  26. adoro te devote--

    I have no idea! I was pretty shocked, too. The only thing I can think of is that everyone is used to finding books (missals, songbooks) in the pews, so maybe they thought the kid's books were there courtesy of the church, since they were "religious" books.
    Kind of like the parents in Matthew's story assuming that the school had provided those nice crayons and coloring sheets. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Brilliant! Children are priceless. Ain't life grand?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Children bring their parents to heaven the shortest possible route, by humility coupled with sacrifice. Great story.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Fr. John Gordon,

    Yes, you really GET IT! I don't like to tell a priest how to act, but some of them make it very difficult to come back to their parishes.

    I have felt the sting of not feeling wanted or just embarrassed because the kids were being kids. What a difference the priest can make! When one lectures you, it makes one feel small and you mentally mark down not to return.

    On the other hand, our priest has picked up young children who were disturbing the homily and just talks a little to them, "Do you want to see everything? Come up here," you know that sort of thing. He goes back to the homily and you feel these children are appreciated. And it always seems to quiet them down, looking out at everyone else looking at them and Father. Ha! Ha!

    I went to a Catholic Family conference in Rockford, ILL. One presentation, the priest was talking how to live out our pro-life convictions. NOt just giving money to pro=life groups and such. But being an example to others. One thing he said was not glaring at parents when their children were disrupting the Mass. After hearing that and reflecting how I feel in those situations, I tend to look over at the family and smile.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment