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The Pumpkin Patch

I have a thing with milestones. I allow myself to get all jacked up around Noah’s “firsts.”  Like every other parent, I celebrated and documented the first steps, the first words, and the first tooth.  But, because (as I mentioned before) I have a thing with milestones and to be honest, because I am probably a little bit crazy, I tend to take it to the next level.

This being said, last week, Noah’s preschool class went on a field trip to a local pumpkin patch. I paid the $9 admission.  And we signed the permission slip. It was then that I noticed a weird feeling in my throat and a tiny hint of a lip quiver like I was about to cry.

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As a counselor, I constantly remind my clients to listen to their bodies and take note when something triggers a somatic response. I do my best to practice what I preach and I could tell this might be one of those moments that I would need to do some serious self-assessment.

The field trip was on a Tuesday. The Thursday before, I started asking about logisitics (trying to appear calm and inquisitive and not crazy and stalker-like). I fixated on the fact that Noah didn’t have a class t-shirt.

For the summer field trips that they went on (this was before Noah moved up to the preschool class), all of the kids wore matching neon green t-shirts.  This made sense to me, seemed safe, great policy.  Well, Noah didn’t have a shirt.  Obviously this means that the field trip shouldn’t happen, no one is prepared for my kid, the world is over (cue the dramatic music).

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After asking several times (again, trying not to seem crazy), everyone determined that the matching t-shirts would not be worn because the kids would have their jackets on the whole time.  Fine.

The night before the field trip, I took a minute to reassess how I was feeling about tomorrow’s adventure.  My determination: I was not okay.  That night, I think I did about 4 loads of laundry, cleaned every surface of the house, and organized 3 or 4 different rooms.

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I posted on Facebook that I was having a “helicopter mom moment” about all of my anxiety about Noah’s first field trip (I also may have included the hashtags #iwillnotgetonthebuswithhim and #iwillnotcallhisteacher).  The comments poured in and included the following encouraging and supportive thoughts:

  • “He will be fine. And cared for.”
  • “He’ll be great! Our son has gone on several field trips with their class and the kids always have a good time. It’ll be OK!”
  • “He will be safe.”
  • “I promise you, he will be fine! Trust me! I’ve done a few of these field trips. He is going to show mama that he’s a big boy.”

While all of the support and encouragement is so appreciated and I am blessed to know that so many people care about me and my kid, none of this helped.  Sorry.

The reason none of this helped was because I knew all of these things.  My anxiety had absolutely nothing to do with worries about his safety or whether or not he would have fun.  My kid will have fun no matter what.  He gets excited about everything and soaks up life like a sponge.  Plus, I love Noah’s preschool and his teacher.  I have no concerns about his safety or his care.

The problem is me.

It is no secret that I am a control freak. I have rules for days. I make lists, I color code, and I know that if I need something done correctly, I do it myself.

The problem is me.

Noah’s first field trip was a formal notice that I am not in control.  I had to recognize and accept that someone other than me is going to put him on a bus and take him to have an experience that I have absolutely nothing to do with.  I will not be there to take pictures.  I will not be there to tell him to be careful.  And I will not be a part of this memory for him.

The only thing I can control is me.

So, I controlled the things that I could control.

I talked to him about listening to his teachers and following directions.  I dressed him in a brightly colored shirt and made sure he had his jacket and hat.  And I took a picture of him to document the morning of his first field trip.  (I also may have checked Facebook close to 37 times that day to see when his school posted pictures from the trip, but that doesn’t count as crazy.)

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He had a blast.  He came home that day exploding with excitement and he was beyond eager to tell me all about the pumpkin patch.  I took a minute to reassess my emotions.

I was not sad that I was not there.  I was not anxious that I was not in control.  I was happy.

Something smells like poop…

Yesterday, Matt and I arrived home from work around the same time.  I had to run to the grocery store after work to pick up a few things and Matt picked Noah up from school like always.  When I got out of the car, Matt says, “Hey, you might want to come and get your son.  It’s been an interesting afternoon.”

I don’t think I was quite prepared for what I was about to see.  I walked around Matt’s opened truck door and saw Noah wearing frilly, lacy white socks, thick, all black, orthopedic-looking toddler tennis shoes, his hair was wet, and he had on his “back-up” outfit I send every day just in case he has an accident.

Matt begins to tell me what happened.

As he walked in to Noah’s preschool (and Noah’s class is the very last classroom down a very long hallway), he is smacked in the face with a horrible and pungent smell.  As he walks down the hall, the smell gets stronger and stronger.  He goes into Noah’s classroom and Noah’s teacher says, “Yeah, you smell that??  That’s your son!”

Turns out, while Noah was playing on the playground, he snuck off to a corner and had (pardon the descriptiveness) massive and explosive diarrhea that ran out of his diaper, through his shorts, down his legs, into his shoes, up his shirt, and (after not being discovered immediately by his teachers) rubbed all in his hair.

His teachers threw him into the sink (while trying to stop the other kids from playing in the poopy mess that Noah left behind) and hosed him off.  They threw all of his soiled clothing and shoes into a plastic bag and sealed it up tight.

When Noah finally saw Matt, he runs up to him, pulls up his shirt, rubs his belly and yells, “Noah feel all better!!”

When we got home and got Noah inside, we pulled those horrible black shoes off (clearly rejects left behind in a lost and found box at preschool because no parent would ever purposely put their child in these shoes), removed the lacy white socks which were clearly some random girl’s socks, and tossed Noah in the bathtub.  I worked on scrubbing all of the “smell” off of him while Matt dealt with the horrible sealed grocery bag of soiled clothing.

While Noah and I are playing with dinosaurs and bubbles, I hear Matt yell up from downstairs, “UGGHH!!  There is a turd in here.  A whole turd!!  And now there is a turd in the garbage disposal!!”

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We spent a good chunk of the rest of the night doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen (with a lot of Lysol and bleach) and right before bed, when I asked Noah if he had a good day, he yelled, with the biggest smile on his face, “Noah Poop!”

Yes you did, buddy.  Yes you did.

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