I'll show you the pictures, and then I'll tell you the truth:
Ayla yells a lot. She always has. I'm going to choose not to get all "I Stand Here Ironing" over this and just say that she must be a dictator reincarnated. She has the sense of dominion, the short fuse, and also the love for comics and snazzy fashion sense I imagine all dictators must share. She storms when her show doesn't record, when there's spaghetti for dinner, when it rains, when it's hot, and when a butterfly flaps its wings in the amazon. On Friday morning, she had been strurming und dranging about the house, reciting her litany of favorite things to tell me about how awful everything is, sort of a nightmare story for apocalyptic children. She might have a future on Fox News. You can imagine how hard it was, then, to put her in the car and drive her away from school.
At the girls' school parents snake their cars in a line around the parking lot until we reach the curb, to which we pull up in groups of about eight. Eight cars worth of elementary students spill out onto the walkway, eight cars drive away, eight more pull forward to take their place. You've got to maintain a good pace in consideration of the cars behind you, there is time for a kiss but not for lengthy goodbyes. As we approached the curb, Ayla grew mellow and almost cheery again, as she always does at the prospect of leaving me. Honestly I would not be surprised to be cleaning her room and discover a stash of college mags beneath the bed. By the time I stopped the car at the curb she was tender, nuzzling my neck before jumping out of the car. I wanted to roll the window down and yell, "I've forgotten nothing!" but I didn't because there were people watching, and Ayla continued to look at me and wave as she advanced down the walkway. It was as I was beginning to inch forward that Ayla advanced her face into a steel support beam at a decent clip.
I mean, the girl high-fived the beam with her face. For one brief moment I laughed, as I have been trained to do by the movies. I stopped my laugh fast and felt immediately sober when I realized I might have to actually get out of the car. The peer pressure of two hundred harried parents waiting to drop their kids at school weighed on me. Hoping for a clean getaway, I pulled forward just slightly enough so that I could see Ayla out of my back window. She was holding her face and crying.
Now, for reasons unknown to me, on this particular morning a cluster of high school cheerladers and football players were gathered about the front doors, probably for the purpose of reminding parents both of their far gone youths and the impending doom of their own sweet children. Everything was happening very fast. One of the bright young cheerleaders had seen Ayla do her own stunt, stifled her own laugh, and was now hesitantly moving toward my daughter, all while wearing her cheerleading skirt. There now, I thought. I don't have to get out of the car. The cheerleader will see to things.
THE CHEERLEADER WILL SEE TO THINGS. I actually, for a moment, expected this. Then I remembered that I live on planet earth in 2013, this current version of myself is a mother of two needy and moody children, and I can't just drive off into the mist in my mini-van and let THE CHEERLEADER SEE TO THINGS. I got out of my car and somebody honked at me. Obviously it was because of my fantastic jiggle bombs which were jiggling now in full display, because I haven't told you that I take the girls to school in my pajamas, and I happened to have slept the night before in what is charmingly referred to as a "wife-beater". I was braless of course, like any self-respecting woman before 8 am, and my breasts are no longer as perky as they used to be, as I was recently reminded by my mother-in-law, who wanted to ensure I wouldn't compare my own pendulous double D's to those of her twenty-two-year-old daughter. I don't know if you are a fifth grade boy who has ever seen two uncaged Mommy D's in the fog before school starts, but let's just say we're lucky there wasn't a full-on riot.
So there I am, bending down to comfort my pole-faced daughter, who cries with the same fervor she unleashes on me in anger, one of her more becoming habits. I was more or less naked in my white tank and yoga pants, and my hair was about to be mistaken by an eagle for a small poodle on top of my head. Mascara was crumbled like debris across the battleground of my post-30 face, which also happened to be lined by the bedsheets like clefts cleaven by bombs into the bloody ground of seaside France. Ayla was screaming her head off, boys were achieving puberty, parents were honking, and all the while a beautiful sixteen-year-old cheerleader with skin like the summer sky was hovering by me and asking sweetly, "Is she ok? Is she ok?" while I shush Ayla, clutch awkwardly at covering my gorillas in the mist, and try not to make direct eye-contact with the virgin princess, lest she turn to stone.
This morning, of course, everything was better. How to say it? I am a fertile woman and today as I alighted from my bed like Persephone on the sunlit dawn, reminders of my fertility did pour from my feminine mysteries like the wine dark sea. Noah was gone. My alarm had been sounding silently for just short of an hour and I hobbled down to the bathroom with my hand in my knickers yelling "Get dressed! Get dressed! You're late and I am in danger of spending more time with you hellions than I am required to by law!" "We're gonna miss breakfast!" Ayla howled and burst into tears. "Who needs socks!" I shouted, and dispensed them from a fresh bag. "Why are they called Bobby socks?" said Indy. "They should be called Cindy socks!" "BOBBY IS A GIRLS' NAME TOO!!!" screamed Ayla through her tears, unleashing perhaps a bit more of the feminist fury than I meant to instill in her at the age of 8. Indy went to put on the new shoes that I had bought not 24 hours before at the Target two towns over, and the buckle snapped clean off in her hand. I bent down to help her and my knees popped ominously in the way they've started to do, my Double D's quite cleverly brushing dust bunnies off the floor. Ayla's voice came from down the hall. "Georgia puked on my bed," she said, for some reason triumphant about it, and I? I reached up to my crown and caressed my knowing snakes.