It’s time for this week’s installment of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. What these posts aren’t about is venting or vindictiveness.
So what’s the point?
Simply to offer the reflections of someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how: with humor.
Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.
Now, we can all laugh together…
* * * * * * * *
Though it had been five years since our daughter’s first parent/teacher conference, my wife and I felt the same familiar anxiety as we entered our son’s kindergarten classroom, sat across from his teacher, and realized:
Neither of us is getting out of our tiny chair without having it surgically removed.
This is what is going through the mind of every parent, at every conference, for the first two years of their child’s education. Sure, we may be smiling and nodding and looking at samples of our child’s work while listening to assessments regarding key areas in their curricular activity, but in reality we’re just trying to keep our tiny chairs from becoming impacted.
When a voice from the intercom interrupted our meeting and briefly called the teacher away (possibly to help with an emergency chair extraction), my wife immediately turned to me and asked if I’d heard anything that had been said during the past 10 minutes. I told her I’d basically missed everything after, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Hickson. Please have a seat.”
My wife, who was obviously upset by this, asked what we were going to do. I told her, from what I remember, at this stage kindergarten was about basic numbers and writing their names, and assured her that our son was probably doing just fine.
“I mean about the chairs!” she hissed.
I told her I didn’t have a plan. However, if we were going to come up with one it needed to be now, before the teacher returned, or before our chairs were no longer visible — whichever came first. We decided the first part of our plan would be to, very carefully, try standing up. This was achieved after several attempts, the last of which involved a maneuver similar to something I saw in a Jackie Chan movie. I can’t really be more specific than that because 1) This may go to trial, and 2) My wife would kill me.
Not necessarily in that order.
The second part of our plan was to replace our chairs with something less invasive. We agreed it would have to be a subtle change. Something that would allow our conference to continue without drawing attention to the fact that we were no longer sitting six inches off the floor with our knees up around our ears, like a pair of grasshoppers ready to leap over the table.
Knowing our time was running out, we made a quick scan of the room and improvised as best we could. When our son’s teacher returned, it was apparent that our plan had failed; partly because the switch wasn’t one hundred percent complete.
But mostly it was because, in our haste, we hadn’t taken into account that the SpongeBob Squarepants bean bag chair — while tough enough to survive several years of hyperactive kindergartners — was never intended to withstand the impact of two full grown adults leaping onto it simultaneously. The result was a loud pop, followed by a burst of high velocity bean buckshot peppering the chalkboard and a good portion of the reading area. If not for being shielded by an oversized world atlas, there’s a good chance Biffy the mouse would not be alive today.
Once the bean dust settled, the only thing left to do was untangle ourselves, climb to our feet, retrieve our tiny chairs, and sit on them with as much dignity as possible. Given that we had none left, the rest of our conference went very quickly. On behalf of my wife and myself, I’d like to apologize for what happened. In the future, we will be happy to sit on whatever chairs are made available to us.
Assuming we’re allowed to sit at all.