Department of Useless Parenting

Am I a Good Mom?

It’s been four years now and there are still no indicators I will ever be promoted beyond the Department of Useless Parenting.

Our son Finn began playschool last week, and on his first day he was the only student without a snack. On his second day, he missed out on show and tell. And while we got the snack part nearly perfect – he had one – we had packed juice (a big no-no) and he’d snuck in a granola bar with nuts for Grandma, the quasi-parent of the day since I could not get out of a meeting. With a minor scolding he made his way out of playschool and still wanted to go back on the day three.

We had done our due diligence for playschool planning. We signed Finn up months in advance (and pre-paid for good measure). The week before class started we met with his lovely and completely composed teacher in our pre-determined 10-minute interview slot to learn a little more about what Finn would experience. We asked if there was anything we needed to know or if there was anything he needed to bring. We even tried to cram in a few last minute alphabet lessons prior to that first class.

That evening, as we stood watching his outstanding technique at soccer practice, we realized Finn was playing with the wrong age group. Our group started at five o’clock but we’d miscalculated his age with the new scheduling chart and teamed him up with the 5-year-olds because we thought “under-five” actually meant under five. Other parents somehow seemed to get this right.

The fifth day of playschool meant a trip to the library. Thank god for the “Library Day” sign on the playschool door, directing us to the local Library, otherwise we would have been waiting there a while. At pick-up time another parent told me to find the pile of books with Finn’s name on them. After a fruitless search, the parent helper of the day explained (in front of all the other A-list parents) that Finn didn’t have his own library card, so was unable to officially sign out his books.

In Finn’s cubby awaited a little green sheet of bad parent paper suggesting I get Finn a card in his own name. Finn’s teacher told me he was fine, and that the other parents had made the same mistakes last year when they were in three-year-old playschool. We missed the registration for that.

I trudged out of playschool, totally hangdog, lump in my throat, holding Finn’s hand wondering what to say. He showed no sign that he’d been negatively affected by the “library incident,” as I was now calling it.

We climbed in the truck together, so I could take him back to daycare and myself back to work. “Am I a good mom?” He answered with an exuberant. “Yes!” I continued, “Why do you think so?” “Because you love me.”

So I dropped him at daycare with a smile then turned the truck back toward playschool with a sigh, so I could pick up the jacket and backpack I had left behind.

Just another day in the Department for me. Evidently, I’ll be putting in a little more time prior to any promotion.

Michelle Gurney is a published author and travel writer, with dozens of articles appearing section front in the Saturday travel sections in newspapers across the country. She runs a communications consulting firm, called Shift, and when Michelle is not in her home office she is refining her parenting skills.