Renegade Mom

This is going to be a sad story about a mother of two who has hit rock bottom. Now if you are the type of person who is always on time for the carpool, remembers to attend PTA meetings, and balances your checkbook, just click the "Back" button. This column is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are the type of mother who arrives in the school parking lot as the morning bell rings, forgets birthdays, and routinely loses permission slips, read on. You will soon feel a lot better about yourself.

You see, yesterday, in the rush to get my children out the door on time, I sent my five-year old son to school without his teddy bear. Now, of course, this may not seem like such a bad problem to you. However, yesterday was the annual teddy bear picnic, which means, as you've probably figured out, that every kindergartner gets to bring their favorite teddy bear to school.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that only the worst kind of parent could leave their child bearless. And, believe me, you are absolutely right. But, before you start writing letters and calling the authorities and all that, I want you to know that the minute I realized my mistake I threw myself at my son's feet and begged for forgiveness.

"Mom, it's OK," he shrugged. "Stop crying. There were extras."

But let's face it. Even though everyone was nice about it, I still feel guilty. Besides, we all know what's really going on here. Any request for a child to bring something to school is really the teacher's way of seeing exactly what kind of parent you are. And, now, I'm branded for the rest of the year as the kind of irresponsible mother who does nothing but lay around the house in pajamas watching daytime talk shows and drinking beer out of a brown paper bag.

Oh, I could've made excuses. Like we had an out-of-state emergency and didn't have time to get the bear or that it had fallen out of the car window on the way to school.

But that wouldn't be true. Besides, it could happen to anybody, right? RIGHT?

In my defense, I'm really a good parent. It's just that, sometimes, I end up making the wrong impression.

Like the time I took my kids to the library. Everything was going great until we got to the checkout desk and I couldn't find my card. This meant that my information had to be looked up in the computer. So they punched in our phone number and brought up my entire borrowing history. And, let me tell you, I bet criminals in the federal penitentiary have a cleaner record than me.

First of all, it listed all of the times I requested a new card. Then it said I lost a magazine. On top of that, it showed I owed fines for a book that I had checked out sometime in 1993.

Naturally I didn't remember any of it, but something told me that the librarian wasn't going to trust a person like me with any more books until I paid up. So I wrote a check. But then they needed to see my ID, which, as luck would have it, was somewhere at home -- possibly marking my place in the missing book. In less than five minutes I went from suburban mother of two, with an A+ credit rating and a good dental plan, to an irresponsible menace to society. I mean, if this type of thing can happen in America, then no one is safe.

Then, of course, there was the time I forgot to send a giant rock to school so my seven-year-old daughter could make a Christmas paperweight. Not to mention an empty baby food jar for a snow scene and a flurry of late permission slips.

And, once, I even returned a library movie to the video rental store and a rented video to the library. Now, try explaining THAT.

But I digress.

The important thing here is that, no matter how bad I look to everyone else, my family forgives me.

I know one day my life will slow down and I'll turn my reputation around. But until then I'm stocking my trunk with spare rocks, empty baby food jars, extra pencils, crayons, glue sticks, library cards, copies of permission slips, and, oh yeah, a stuffed bear or two. Just in case.