to jumper or not to jumper

With just a few days left until summer vacation, we are finding it harder and harder to stay in our regular routine such as early bedtimes. Last night was late, really late, later than weekend late nights. This morning, for the first time this school year, I overslept.  I usually wake somewhere around 6:30 or 7 a.m., sometimes with the aid of Ren but most times because I am so used to waking up at that time. This morning, however, it was 8:30, the exact time that we leave the house to get Ashlyn into her classroom by 8:45. Today is also the day of her year-end orchestra concert at noon. I knew that she didn’t want to miss it, otherwise, I probably would have let her stay home. She doesn’t have any more tests or homework, and the teachers are already cleaning out their classrooms and sending home artwork and books. In fact, Yesterday would have been Ash’s last day had it not been for the harsh winter. The district tacked on five extra days.
    “Ash,” I announced as I passed her bedroom. “Time to get up. No time for a shower. We overslept, and you will be late today.”
    “But we’re eating lunch early today so that we can get to the concert.”
    “Don’t worry, you’ll get to school before lunch.”
    Ash sat on her bedroom floor and opened her dresser to pull out a school uniform. “Do you know where my other white shirt is, the one that’s not stained and not long sleeved?”
    “Is it in the laundry?”
    I knew it wasn’t in the laundry. I did the laundry, all of it. There were three towels waiting to be washed and some of Ren’s clothes that needed to folded and put away. “No.”
    “Well what am I supposed to wear?”
    We are not supposed to have these conversations when your children attend a school where students wear uniforms. This entire year has been easy: pick a white or light blue polo shirt and pick a navy blue bottom—pants, skirts, jumpers or shorts, the last three at least knee-length—and make sure sweaters, socks, and shoes all meet code, navy, white, black or grey. Easy. And, since the weather has warmed and humidified, Ash shed the long pants and opted for a skirt or shorts, that I altered from a pair of uniform pants. She had four pairs of pants that were great during the winter.
    “Where’s your skirt?”
    “I don’t know, but the problem is I don’t have a shirt.”
    “What about the one you wore yesterday?”
    “It has ketchup on it.”
    “You have two light blue polos, three short-sleeve white polos, and two long sleeve white polos.”
    “Yeah and I can’t find them. You won’t let me wear the stained one,” she said.
    It’s true, one of the short sleeve white polos got mixed in with a pair of her dark blue jeans that were not colorfast. The dye bled onto a couple of the other shirts in the laundry. That uniform polo is now a play shirt.
    “What about your other shirts?”
    “I don’t know where they are.”
    “Okay.” I walked into her room and sat on the floor with her to go through her dresser. I found her school sweaters shoved into drawers, a pair of pants crumpled in the corner of another drawer. I finally located a light blue polo shirt and yanked it out. “Here wear this one.”
    She turned it right side out, and discovered a ketchup stain. “I thought I put this into the laundry.”
    “I can’t find any of your other shirts, you must have them in your laundry basket.” I would have washed them yesterday, but her laundry basket was empty. After school yesterday, Ash cleaned her room, and I was getting dinner ready for our guests. No clean laundry.
    So I did what any mom would do on a late morning, I told her to put that shirt on and wear a jumper. The stain would be covered.
    “I don’t want to wear a jumper.”
    “I don’t look good in a jumper.”
    She has two jumpers that she wore in the fall and winter. She has grown taller since the beginning of the school year, but the jumpers are not too short. And of all the clothes you can wear, a jumper is very forgiving. Everyone looks good in a jumper. “What do you mean that you don’t look good in a jumper?”
    “I don’t.” She said. “People tell me I don’t look good in a jumper.”
    “What people?”
    “I don’t know, people.”
    “So random people come up to you on the streets and tell you that you don’t look good in your school uniform jumper.”
    “No,” she sighed.
    “Then who?” I asked.
    “Alexia’s little sister.”
    Oh. Alexia’s little sister. Alexia is Ashlyn’s frenemy, a girl who pretends to be Ash’s friend when she wants something, otherwise she’s a mean girl. They have been in the same class together since kindergarten, and we could write volumes about this relationship.
    “Really? You stopped wearing your jumper because a five-year old said you don’t look good. What she told you is not true. You look good in everything you wear,” I assured her.         
    “Now put on the dirty shirt and your wrinkled jumper. Don’t even worry about brushing your hair. Pull it into a ponytail. Grab your violin. Guzzle a glass of milk. Eat a peanut butter sandwich in the car. You’re definitely late for school.” Yeah, that might have just clinched me as a finalist for Mother of the Year.

I never set an alarm clock. I usually wake early. Yesterday we woke up late. Ashlyn was late for school. This morning, I woke up at 6:38 a.m. I dozed and woke back up at 6:53. Ren crawled in bed with me at 6:55. My phone rang at 6:57. I suppose you could call it a wake-up call. It was the school, “Yesterday, your child, Ashlyn Groshong, was tardy without a doctor’s note. Please make sure she is on time this morning.”