The first time I notice this strange change is on the playground at the beach. Big Brother is about two years old, and he is playing on the deck of a giant wooden boat. An older boy approaches him and makes a joke about his clothes. He's dressed in a one-piece, spandex Buzz Lightyear bathing suit to protect his fair skin from sunburn. I watch my cub defend himself from a distance. "This is my cool baby suit!" he exclaims, offended for the first time in his short life. Up until this point, no one had ever questioned his "coolness." Of course, the mispronunciation of the word bathing suit only makes the older boy laugh harder, and before my brain realizes what my legs are doing, I've moved myself into the older boy's personal space. "How old do you think this child is? Huh?" I leer at him. Backing away from this crazy woman in the sand, the bully shrugs. "He's two! How old are you, like, ten?! Leave him alone!" I growl. As the boy runs away, my claws retract back into my sleeves and the precariously bushy black fur that's spreading on my back disappears. That's when I realize, I just forced a confrontation with a child. Nice going, Mommy.
Really, this inconvenient transformation only takes place once in a blue moon, or in today's case, occasionally during a sunny morning. I decide it is in big brother’s best interest to remove him from a special class that will be a self-contained model for the next six years of his education. My husband receives a smug attitude from the building leader when requesting this change. "We want our son's transition to be smooth...You need to be welcoming and warm to my wife tomorrow when she arrives with him. I really don't want to bail her out of prison." I don't think they realize Mama Bear's on her way to their camp ground.
What a warm welcome I receive! First I have to show my driver's license to reach the main office from the front doors of the building. After searching for someone who is supposed to meet me and help us with the class adjustment, I explain to the secretary that I'm escorting big brother down to the new classroom myself. Then the building leader comes out of her office. "We have a policy that parents can not walk through the halls," she announces. My hair bristles, my muscles tighten, and I start feeling the fur spread across my skin. Luckily, I do not smell M&M's in her pocket, so I'm able to slow down my mutation. Forcing a smile, I repeat myself, calmly. "I am walking my son to his new classroom, saying goodbye, and greeting his new teacher." A staring contest ensues. Meanwhile, I'm flashing back to last April when big brother was hospitalized with pneumonia. I was glued to a plastic green hospital chair for three days, praying in the middle of the night that his fever would break. This person is not going to walk away smugly with my son. I think this all is communicated somehow, non-verbally, or maybe some of my fur starts to show, because Mama Bear wins, and no blood is shed. Walking back to my mini-van, I return to my previous state as just another ordinary mom.