So, long about nine I was sitting on the couch working on that first cup of coffee. I opened my email on my phone to see a note from Hank's teacher. It said, "Hi! If you are getting this email, it means your child doesn't have his book report and book character costume on today. If you can get it up to school, he or she will still have a chance to present," etc.
Um, whut? Book character who? CRAP.
Then I remembered, back before Halloween we had gotten a thing sent home about having the kids do little book presentations while dressed as a character. I had put it in a stack of Very Important Papers on my kitchen counter and then highlighted the stack by placing some Target coupons and a gourd on top of it. No chance I could forget to look back through that stack! I mean, the gourd and all!
But then Laura's play started and I sort of haven't retained any other information about this week.
(It's funny, because this kind of little mommy project was one of the things that prompted me to start this blog back in the day. I felt that I was always being called upon to do ridiculous, laborious, or immediately-forgotten tasks related to modern suburban parenting, and I wanted something to serve as a memorial. So here we are!)
Betty and I were planning to go eat lunch with Hank, which he loves, because when someone comes to eat with you, you get to sit up on the stage and lord over all the people down below. So I emailed his teacher back that I would bring his costume and his report up to school at lunch, so sorry, don't know how it could have slipped my mind.
But there was no costume and no book report. I went into my mind palace and surveyed the landscape, and my spirit eye alit upon a book Hank had recently brought home from the book fair. And I thought, "This is a basically perfect thing for that kid. And it will be dead easy."
Anyway, Dad handed me the briefs and pronounced them "nearly new." Then I spied a big square of red felt in the toy box, and quick as a flash, I was cutting it into a scalloped facsimile of the Captain's cape.
Then it was just a matter of swinging by the Subway to procure Hank's promised meatball sub and milk. I was feeling a little super-heroic at that point. I had the underwear, and the sub! Handling all the things!
When Betty and I reached the school, we rounded the corner and saw Hank's teachers. They made the rueful face that adults use to communicate to each other that a child is upset. Then, in mouthed whispers, his teacher told me that Hank had been sad when he got to school and realized he was supposed to be in costume. She said he didn't cry but he was on the verge, and that she had tried to reassure him that I would come and fix him up. When we sat down in the lunchroom and I pulled the book, underwear, and cape out of my purse, the poor little guy looked so relieved. He said, "Sweet, Mom!"
Over lunch, we filled in the book report template together. He remembered everything about the story in great detail. Then I helped him into the underpants, using my hair elastic to tighten them in the back, and tied the cape around his neck.
HE LOVED HIMSELF SO MUCH. Y'all, it was just beyond. And then as his class got up to empty their trays, he descended the stage steps in front of them and basked in their attention. It was a hit with the kindergarteners, of course, and all the teachers cracked up. Betty and I left, high-fiving each other. It made me feel good to see him restored to full confidence and cheer.
I was surprised there were no other Captain Underpantses in attendance. I mean, so easy! And big white underwear just gets laughs. I think it's a transcultural phenomenon.
When we met him at the bus stop later that afternoon, I said, "Where are the underpants?" And he goes, "Well, when we went out on the playground for recess, some big kids were laughing, so I took them off and hid them in my pocket." All right, sounds reasonable. You gotta know your audience. What kills in kindergarten might not play with the second graders.
So Mama forgot but she fixed it and it was okay.