We are in the second week of nursery school and my transition has been great. I can now exercise without having to stop eleven times up the mountain to make sure Otto has the right color combination of cars in each cup holder. I no longer have to insure that the water to Cheerio ratio is exactly what Otto feels he needs, as I push him up a treacherous incline with no safety rail and a $99 dollar jogging stroller. There is no more sweat and sunscreen combo dripping in my eyes and temporarily blinding me while I try to magically place the sunshade in the exact position needed so Otto does not scream and feel molested by the piercing rays of the Southern California sun.
I can do the dishes while listening to the droning of erudite NPR analysts who make me feel stupid AND unaccomplished, yet oddly attractive. I can fold the laundry without an errant dump truck destroying my color- coordinated piles of Ikea towels that pill and smell sour, even fresh out of the dryer. I can grocery shop without my head trying to sever itself from my body and run into the arms of another because of irrational toddler demands and a forgotten grocery list. Miscellaneous errands now get done in a more reasonable time frame, weeks instead if months, for instance. The abundant toy factory that has been our main living quarters for the last two and half years is now relegated to the dining room and needs only to be picked up on the weekends when Otto decides to reenact horrific train derailments and ten car, interstate pileups, complete with unhelpful bystanders and a toxic oil spill.
The only hiccup, the one singular chink in the armor, is that Otto, little man of my dreams and cream puff of my loins, refuses to nap at school. He is the one hold out, the lone wolf, the last man standing and it is killing his teachers and wrecking his youthful good looks. When I pick him up in the afternoon the staff appears to have been put through a Cuisinart while Otto sports circles under his eyes that look like two little eclipses sitting on his face. Initially, he is all hugs and smiles but by the time I get him to the car his head is listing off to the one side and he seems to be totally defeated as if his incomplete hail Mary pass just lost his team the big game.
We climb into the car and I feed him whatever is left in his snack bag, hoping to sustain him for the seven-minute car ride home. But, within a few minutes he is rubbing his eyes with paint covered fists and dry-weeping onto a Matchbox car I find under a pile of old raisins and Gold Fish crumbs I wouldn’t feed to Bin Laden’s back up donkey. My only hope is that we see a bulldozer, a flat bed tow truck or a broken down city bus engulfed in flames. If that lucky event occurs his mood changes immediately causing just enough temporary euphoria to get him home without a Amy Winehouse meltdown and a stint in nappy time rehab.
Today, we got home with only two tears, one argument and three leg rubs. After I handed him some milk in a responsible, trendy BPA-free cup, Otto casually headed upstairs, all the while insisting that no nap was necessary. I went along with his drastically misguided conclusion and told him that we were simply going to read a book about displaced monkeys and a creepy man-child and “chill out.” I distracted him with questions about his paint splattered hair, offered to show him his poopy diaper and his booger filled Kleenex and then slipped on pajamas while he stared at the ceiling looking for noises and spiders. After a story and seven songs about doughnuts covered in monkey hair and a green truck that crashed into a large, deserving crowd at a boat show, he lay down in his crib, flipped over like a perfectly cooked pancake and fell asleep buried in his monkey pillow.
The teachers assure me that he will crack soon and sleep on the cot provided like all the other children. They promise me that he will not come home as worn out as a forty-seven year old second string quarter back clutching onto the glory days with three broken fingers, a trail of breast-implanted broken hearts and an Oxycodone habit. I cannot wait for that day…that day in the spring of 2012.