The Ticket to Preschool.

As I mentioned a few months ago, Noah is attending Preschool this fall – three days a week, and his teacher is his precious Godmother, Miss Janey.

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…whom he calls “Miss Jamie”, because I make him eat lunch with Jamie of Jamie’s Rabbits way too often and once one has encountered Jamie and her Rabbits they’re hard to flush from one’s mind – even at the expense of mispronouncing one’s own Godmother’s name.

(Sorry, Miss Janey.)

At parent orientation, they told us that they would be having two parties for the moms on the first day: a “Coffee and Kleenex Party” on one side, and a “Coffee and Kick-Your-Heels-Up” Party on the other.

Which is when I realized that I am some sort of misfit alien – because I neither felt like crying or cheering.

On the one hand, I knew I wouldn’t have a “the first day of the rest of his life” moment because at this time, I plan on bringing him back home for school next year – I just needed a year to focus on second grade with Ali without his vast disapproval in the background of every subject, and I knew he’d love the chance to be in Miss Janey’s class.

On the other hand, I’m not kicking my heels up because I’m a bit nervous about the round-trip drive three times a week (it’s not exactly close to my house) and…I’ve still got to teach second grade.

Therefore, the sum of my feelings about my son going to preschool is…COMPLETELY NEUTRAL.

I told you. I am alien. I should be kicked out of the Mommy League.

So, on his first day, I was somewhat nervously timing the drive, realizing that I was going to routinely hit some morning traffic, carefully skirting around two fresh wrecks on the interstate, and in general feeling neutral.

I got off the interstate with only a few minutes to spare and began down a freshly created road on which I’d only traveled a couple of times. I was checking it out, and I even remember looking for a speed limit sign, which is when, instead, I saw a motorcycle cop.

Hello, first day of school.

Goodbye, Neutral Feelings.

He pulled me over and the kids began their flood of questions about what evil I had executed to be trapped by a POLICEMAN.

Ali was reassuring, telling Noah, “Don’t worry, Noah – he’s on a motorcycle, so he can’t take us all to jail.”

I frantically began rooting around in my glove compartment for my registration and had it in my lap when he walked up.

“Hello ma’am. I need to see your license and insurance card.”

But I went to all that trouble to find my registration and I actually *have* it thanks to my husband who takes care of these things…don’t you want to see it?

I nodded and modified my search parameters to my wallet, where my license never wants to come out and my insurance card is always at least two policy periods out of date.

“I’m sorry I promise my insurance is current but I have an old card. I can get on the app on my phone or call my State Farm agent…”

“Okay ma’am. You figure that out while I run your license.”

Fortunately I don’t find much need for my State Farm app, resulting in it unfortunately not being logged in and more unfortunately me having no idea what my user ID and password were.

I tried every likely combination with shaking hands, still watching the clock leading up to Preschool Delivery Time.

The children continued to discuss my criminal past, present, and future in the backseat.

I finally resorted to calling State Farm’s toll-free app support number, knowing that customer support never ends well. By the time I got a human on the line, the cop was back at my door with a ticket.

I tried to rush Ms. State Farm through the process but she would not be rushed.

In fact, she needed to verify my identity fourfold. Because someone besides me could have totally known three out of four of these questions.

1. What is your date of birth?

2. What make of car was registered to you when you lived at X address? [Three houses ago, from which we moved in 2002.]

3. How much did you pay for the house at Y address? [Our current address, which we bought 7 years ago.]

“I’m sorry but I have a policeman standing at my door can we hurry this along? I just need my insurance card.”

“No ma’am. I must completely verify your identity.”

4. What year was the house at Z address built? [Two residences ago, because I memorize what year every house I live in was built.]

Thankfully, the last three questions were multiple choice BUT STILL. THAT WAS NOT LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. That was like the most suspicious nosiest most awful neighbor no one ever wanted. That neighbor is probably breaking into my back door right now just to see how clean I keep my bathroom.

(Not very.)

During the above questioning, the cop stood awkwardly at my door as I kept whispering apologies and explaining what the problem was. After question four, he said,

“Can you ask her to hold?”

I tried to get a word in edgewise but my Neighbor Nightmare was now giving me my username and a scripted list of instructions. As soon as she took a break, I said “thankyougoodbye” and hung up before she could ask me to take a survey on her exemplary interrogation skills.

I turned to the cop. “I’m so so so so sorry. I have my username now and should be able to reset my password and then get into the app and show you my current insurance card.”

“I tell you what, ma’am. Let’s forget about the insurance card. Here’s your ticket. Have a good day.”

Lesson Learned: Motorcycle Cops hate customer service as much as I do.

And as an added bonus, I now know the speed limit on that new road.

(35, if you must know.)

(And I was doing 54.)

(Because it looked like an interstate and there’s nothing on either side.)

(It wasn’t unreasonable.)

(But don’t ask my kids if they concur because they’re now convinced I deserve to go to jail.)

Thankfully I had taken happy First Day of School pictures of Noah before we left the house,

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Because his level of distrust for me after The Incident rendered his walking-in pictures as decisively suspicious, disillusioned, and humiliated.

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I deserved it.

He immediately found the water fountain to wash away the bad taste my parenting had given him,

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then started down the long hallway to freedom from me,

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and from his ever-present always-directing older sister.

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Happy first day of school, kid. And by the way, your Mommy’s a criminal.

….And might need that Coffee and Kleenex party after all.