Heather feigns confidence as she walks Dylan and Kaitlin into school on Monday morning. Why should she feel nervous? Louse Patrol had proclaimed them all lice free. However, as she walks the hallway toward the office, she’s certain that every passing mother’s smile is either oddly sympathetic or completely false.
Heather grips the children’s hands as they walk into the office. Luanne, the school secretary, sits behind her cluttered desk on a large chair on wheels. She rolls her eyes when she sees them.
“Re-check?” Luanne says, dropping a pile of papers onto her desk and rolling over to a low filing cabinet.
Heather nods guiltily.
Luanne removes a pair of rubber gloves from a drawer and rolls back to her desk.
“I’m sure they’re fine,” Heather says.
“We’ll see,” Luanne says and motions the children toward her. The morning school bell rings. Its sound is piercing and Heather’s head begins to throb. She looks around trying to distract herself from watching Luanne dig through the children’s hair with a wooden Popsicle stick.
The office door swings open and a petite blonde woman walks in followed by an even smaller version of herself.
“I don’t see any eggs,” Luanne says loudly. “They can go back to class.”
Heather feels like she might vomit. The blonde is smiling at her. Is she mocking me? Heather wonders.
Dylan and Kaitlin stand next to Luanne’s chair, looking paralyzed by the inspection.
“Madison had lice last year,” the blonde says with a smile. “Did you use the mayonnaise method?”
“I had the Louse Patrol come in,” Heather says, red-faced.
“I’ll have to get that contact from you,” the blonde says. “Hopefully their products are all natural. It’s important not to expose our children to toxins.”
Heather nods in agreement, feeling completely inept. She hadn’t even asked Marc about his products’ ingredients. Her only focus was killing the lice by any means necessary.
“Get to class,” Luanne barks at the children.
Dylan and Kaitlin nod and pick up their backpacks.
“Wait,” Luanne says and they stop. Heather wishes they’d be this obedient at home.
“Kaitlin, walk this new girl to your classroom,” Luanne says. “Mrs. Hanson is expecting her.”
Kaitlin motions for the new girl to follow her.
“School starts at eight sharp,” Luanne says to the mother.
“I’m sorry we were late,” the mother says. “Madison was just so nervous about her first day.”
Luanne shakes her head, removes her plastic gloves and resumes her paperwork.
Heather thinks the woman is cold and insensitive. Then, the new mother pulls a small box of chocolate out of her large alligator skin bag and hands it to the secretary.
”For all of your help with our new student paperwork,” she says.
Luanne smiles! Her yellow stained teeth are small and crooked. It occurs to Heather that she’s never seen Luanne smile before.
“Thanks,” Luanne says and looks shocked by this gesture of kindness. “Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help ya’all.”
Is this all it takes for Luanne to be nice? Heather wonders. She introduces herself to the obviously brilliant new mom as they walk out of the office together.
“Where did you move from?” Heather asks her.
“Newport Beach,” Stephanie says. “It was terrible to leave our friends. It’s been hard on Madison.”
“I’m sorry,” Heather says. “Maybe she’d like to come over to play one day this weekend? It might be nice, since the girls are in the same class.”
“That would be wonderful!” Stephanie says and claps her perfectly manicured hands together.
Heather makes arrangements for the playdate and parts ways with Stephanie feeling like a better person.
After school Dylan and Kaitlin come in the house, arguing loudly.
”I have snacks in the kitchen” Heather says interrupting their dispute.
Dylan sits at the kitchen table, eats popcorn and turns on the TV. Kaitlin sits in a chair, looking especially miserable. Her face is dirty and her eyes are full of tears.
“What’s the matter?” Heather asks.
“Everything,” Kaitlin says. “It was an awful day.”
“Well, I’ve arranged a playdate with the new girl,” Heather says, hoping to cheer her up.
“How could you?” Kaitlin says and stands. She crosses her arms at her chest.
“I thought it would be nice,” Heather says, shocked.
“She got me in trouble twice today. Kicked me at recess and stole my best friend,” Kaitlin says, tears stream down her face. “I hate her!”
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a completely fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or families