The other fourth graders are happily engaged in the work at hand, namely, farming at a local sustainable farm. They interact easily with each other as they shovel compost into a few rusty wheelbarrows. I’ve spent a good chunk of the morning congratulating myself for volunteering to chaperone my first school field trip.
Dora pokes her shovel around at the edge of the pile, clearly bored out of her mind. I can’t really blame her, I think, Dora likes what she likes. Whenever another child shows Dora attention, she moves closer to them, too close, sometimes grabbing their arm and leaning into them, smiling. Or she drops her shovel and invites the other child to go do something else, something more interesting. I watch the other girls turn away from my beautiful child one after another and my insides feel like someone pushed hard on an old bruise.
How can a language that provides us with words for such nuanced feelings as “mournful” and “ennui” be so utterly inept when it comes to describing the emotional landscape of Parenting? Where is the word for momentarily hating someone else’s child while simultaneously understanding their behavior?
Dora sits with me on the bus on the way home, her head on my lap, her hands pressed against her ears because it’s too loud.
And it is too loud, what with the bus driver blasting Katy Perry and all that fucking singing and laughter echoing off the metal ceiling.
An old Sesame Street song plays on a loop in my head: One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…
I pull my child close to me. She is absolutely miserable.
Fuck you, Sesame Street!
Fuck you, other kids!
Fuck you, bus driver!
Go draw a teapot!