Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Culture Clash

Our topic was "drop-out." I did about as crummy on this one as I did on my story about the mom whose baby explodes all over her. Oh well - I think I'm in a bit of a writing slump right now.

Culture Clash

My daughter is a drop-out. Should I be more worried? After all, her chances of a good future may well be gone now. All the things that could have been hers…won’t. I imagine that people I know are probably shaking their heads as they contemplate the lack of Kaylee’s future.

I would be more concerned, except…my daughter is six months old.

It all started innocently enough. During my pregnancy my husband, Brice, and I had moved halfway across the world for his job. Technically, it was only the difference from Oklahoma to New York, but we may have as well planted ourselves in the jungles of Ecuador for the culture shock we experienced.

So, I had Kaylee and soon the walls of our little apartment were closing in on me. Everything I read assured me that motherhood would be all-fulfilling. I don’t know, but it’s kind of hard to feel fulfilled when your only companion sleeps for fifteen hours of the day and uses you as a milking machine for the other nine. If I didn’t get someone to talk to, I was going to go nuts. I suggested to Brice that we fly my mother out for an extended visit. He got this horrified look on his face and came home the next day with an address and phone number for a nearby Me and Mommy class.

So I went. Wow -- we sure weren’t in Kansas anymore! The minute I opened the door to this class I was assaulted with the smells of money, class, teething biscuits, and baby poop. I guess some smells transcend social class.

Introductions were made and one mother, who had apparently come straight from a tennis lesson, judging by the perky little tennis outfit she wore (that I would bet next week’s paycheck had never been on a court, ever), cooed to my daughter,

“And who do we have here?” Since my daughter was intent on stuffing her fist into her mouth, and, thus, unable to answer, I replied that this was Kaylee.

“Oh!” exclaimed Miss Tennis, “What an ordinary name!” That kind of took me aback. Wasn’t “ordinary” ok when naming one’s progeny? Apparently not. As the mothers took their places in a large circle, babes in lap, I started noticing the sticky labels attached to their children’s designer duds. There were a couple of “Juliets,” a “Gwyneth,” and even a “Rupert.” We sure were a far way from Oklahoma.

We clapped and sang while the babies drooled. I could be wrong, but I began to get the feeling that this class really didn’t have a whole lot to do with the children.

The mother to my right suddenly turned to me.

“Have you gotten on a waiting list yet?” she asked,

At the baffled look I gave her, she elaborated, “For preschool. You’ve got to get on a list, you know. If your daughter doesn’t get into the right preschool, then she has no chance at all of getting into Kindergarten.”

Ok, so this was news to me. I was pretty sure that all kids went to kindergarten, “right” preschool or not. But then another mother jumped in and I soon realized they were babbling about the right kindergarten. Of course.

“Well, it was nice to meet you” Miss Tennis stood in front of me, hoisting her chubby baby on her hip, “But we’ve got get going. Hugh, here, has his Chinese lesson and we can’t be late.” Uh huh. Well, I guess if China ever takes over America, then it might be handy to speak the language.

I wandered around the room for a bit, while holding Kaylee, and caught pieces of conversation:

“The French Riviera is just so hot that time of year, you know.”

“And they only paid six million for it!”

“Oh, and then our nanny said...”

And then I wandered right out the door, into the September sunshine. Kaylee babbled at a butterfly that swooped down and alighted on her stroller. We stopped in the park, got down on a blanket, and looked at the ants carrying a piece of food to their home and laughed at a puppy who got away from his owner.

And that’s when I decided that both Kaylee and her mother would be forever high society drop-outs. All the culture, prestige, and riches I was ever going to need was sitting right there, gurgling and drooling as the mid-day sun peeked through the leaves above us.

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