I was already scarred from “curriculum” night at my daughter’s school, wherein I sat through a round of questions of douchey parents who wanted to analyze the benefits of the school’s math philosophy. Have I mentioned my daughter is FOUR?
Naturally, after that I was a little wary of the back to school night at my 2-year-old son’s class. There was a layer of added stress for me because he goes to a Jewish school, and I am named after the savior of the Christian world. My hand was trembling as I scribbled my name in a sloppy way so the Christ part wouldn’t be too obvious.
When we got to the classroom, we got to sit on those four-inch-tall chairs, which I totally did get, because I know, it’s all about the children, not me. Things were going well, and I pretended to understand some of the Hebrew words the teacher was saying. I exhibited grace and humility when the teacher pulled me aside to explain why she’d sent a note home in Simon’s backpack “reminding” me that his lunch must be vegetarian. It wasn’t so much a reminder as an initial warning, since I had no idea about the vegetarian thing. I figured I shouldn’t send him with a ham or bacon-wrapped shrimp po-boy, but turkey? Apparently, turkey’s out too because of kosher laws. (NOTE: Simon was sent to school today with a pita, a Tupperware full of garbanzo beans, a kosher pickle, and a note from me, apologizing for the sucky lunches.)
Simon’s teachers had planned an activity for the evening. Bless them, they gave us something to do. “We thought it would be fun if you made a family scrapbook page, including your family motto.”
Motto? “Jeff, please tell me that is the Hebrew word for last name? Because if by motto, she means phrase that summarizes your family mission statement, we are screwed.”
Turns out she was speaking plain English and we had about 6 minutes to come up with a phrase that fits our family. By that point, my legs had lost circulation from sitting in that little hobbit chair and I was sweating. How could I think straight to pick a family motto? Jeff and I stared at each other, unsure of how to approach the task.
“Well, what do we normally say?” Jeff said, reasonably.
“How about ‘please help us’?” I suggested gamely. “Or ‘Mommy needs a time out.’ Or what about ‘When you’re at our house, don’t expect home cooking’?”
Jeff wasn’t impressed. The clock was ticking down and I was trying so hard not to act like a flummoxed shiksa with no lower body circulation that I couldn’t think rational thoughts. Like a jute box on the fritz, I started spitting out Willie Nelson lyrics as options:
- You were always on my mind.
- If you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time.
- Roll me up and smoke me when I die.
- I just can’t wait to get on the road again.
- Whiskey for my men; beer for my horses.
I was deluded enough to think that last one had some traction. Kids love animals I argued, especially horses.
Bless Jeff for not slapping me. He did punch my leg, but I couldn’t feel it. In the end,
we he picked a song lyric, not from the greatest musical artist on the planet, but from some hack children’s musician who sings about the goodness of the Earth and the interconnectedness of human life.
Whatever. I still think we could have found a Willie lyric as a motto.
So what about you? Do you have a family motto?