“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Daily Grind

WARNING: This will be vent-y.

One of my favorite things about school being in session, whether I'm working or not, is the beautiful routine everything falls into. I'm a highly disorganized person, spontaneous by default because I can never remember what I'm supposed to be doing or where I'm supposed to be. My poor darling son Joey has inherited this both fortunate and unfortunate trait from me. It's fortunate because it makes life full of unexpected twists and surprises and, well, fun, but it's not so good because it tends to offend people (like when you lose something they need or fail to show up to a place where they are waiting for you, like a meeting at work), and also because I HATE not being to find or remember things.

Routine helps with all of this. Because everything always happens the same way at the same time, I have a much easier time remembering. I love the predictability of it, too, since so few things in my life are ever expected. In fact, I've really come to hate surprises at all, because most moments of my life are filled with accidental ones that are happy only about fifty percent of the time. Finding five bucks in my pocket? Awesome. Finding my keys in the refrigerator after thirty minutes of searching and blaming everyone, including the dog? Bad. Bad, bad, bad.

A drawback of a routine is that you know, LIFE happens, and it can't always meet the demands of the normal schedule. Like this week, for example. It's SUPPOSED to be glorious, the first week back into a routine. But no. Joe was sent to Washington DC for work, so I am not following the routine as it is meant to occur. This means this morning, though I tried to plan for it, was a disaster.

Joey has to be in school by eight. Noah, on the other hand, who goes to the SAME school, doesn't start until 8:30. One might even say he isn't supposed to be IN school UNTIL 8:30. Sure, other preK parents arrive early, but this week, and this week only, I have to drop BOTH boys off in the morning. (Why not have Joey take the bus, you say? I say, SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO THE STORY.) It was recommended by the more aggressive and bold parents that I walk in at 8 AM with both boys and stand there and WAIT. Maybe then the school will get a taste of the inconvenience they've imposed on me. Other people shrugged and said, "Drop off Joey, go get coffee, and then bring Noah back."

See, either way, that block of time will be inconveniently taken up by the school. So I ask myself: Do I want to stand in the vestibule trying to keep Noah quiet and feel like people are staring at me (because my mother raised me to believe that people are ALWAYS looking), or do I want to leave school, drive around and listen to the radio, and not worry about Noah talking loudly and saying funny (but sometimes inappropriate) things? I voted choice B. I stand by that choice, even though today went badly.

FIRST OF ALL, I am married to a man who possesses the WORST SENSE OF TIMING. EVER. I mean, we are talking about a guy who met the girl of his dreams when he was fourteen, and waited nine years to ask her out. WHAT A DUFUS.

Anywho. Since Joe is away from home and feeling all pathetic and left out, he keeps on calling us. Like, all the time. "That's so sweet!" you may croon. Ugh. It's a pain in the butt is what it is, especially when you're dealing with two children (and, incidentally, a dog...who isn't much trouble at all, but still; she's there) who are loud and demanding and insane. When did Joe call today? 7:15. Right in the middle of us getting ready for school. Even if we weren't, it still threw off my mentally scheduled time allotments for everything. And not only did he call, but he needed to be passed from person to person to send them off with an INDIVIDUALIZED message for the day. And even though I wasn't supposed to be part of two of those conversations, I had to be, because neither boy really felt like receiving an individualized message this morning (we're not morning folk over here at the Bielecki house) and I had to make sure they RECEIVED it and possibly returned it because otherwise Joe's FEELINGS would be hurt. Since he's all pathetic and left out while STAYING IN A HOTEL, HAVING ROOM SERVICE, AND HAVING A MAID PICK UP HIS CLOTHES AND MAKE HIS BED. Oh wait. That's pretty much what his life is like at home, too. "Oh, you have a maid?" you ask. NO. No, we most definitely do NOT.


Noah only owns four pairs of jeans, and though I do the laundry every day, somehow, none were available this morning. He not only needed a pair to wear, but also needed to send in a SPARE pair for his emergency bag. Or maybe it's called an accident bag. Whatever. I didn't have ANY jeans, so I was upstairs trying to decide what pair of pants would be acceptable to send in if Noah had some sort of spill, or God forbid, a bathroom accident. It couldn't be sweatpants because I'd never send him to school in sweatpants, and if he had an accident and was handed sweatpants he would know that was weird and would feel even more self-conscious. So I decided on khakis, but then I had to decide which pair I could part with, because what an event comes up and he needs khakis but I sent all the good ones to school? Stupid emergency/accident bag. I hate you.

While I was making these earth-shattering decisions, I could hear Joey and Noah downstairs playing with the dog. I felt my blood start to boil as I waited. Sure enough Joey yelled, "AUGHH! She's going to BITE ME!" Now, this dog is fairly new to us. We've only had her a month. But she doesn't bite. At all. Ever. When she feels playful, she opens her mouth to BREATHE, and the boys see her teeth, and they scream, "She's going to bite me!" but she ISN'T. In fact, if you stick your hand right inside her mouth she immediately curls away and licks you to ensure you understand she was not going to, and never will, bite you. I think it's rather smart AND sweet, and I have shown this to Joey and Noah multiple times, and STILL they scream, "She's going to bite me!" WHEN they screamed this while I was struggling with the khaki pants, I might have yelled, "SHE DOESN'T BITE! IF YOU TELL ME SHE BITES WE'RE SENDING HER TO THE FARM!!!!!!!!! AND THEN YOU WILL NOT HAVE A DOG!" I might have. It all happened so fast, I can't really remember.

THEN it was time to get the boys in the car. But I remembered Joey wanted to bring his lunch because he thinks school pizza is gross (which it is NOT it's delicious and I always buy it at work). But he forgot to bring his lunchbox home yesterday so I had to dig out a brown paper bag. The whole time I was digging (with a tub full of Keurig coffees dumping on my feet), Joey was chastising me for not remembering to give him ice cream money yesterday, to which I responded, "You forgot your whole lunch box. I forgot to hand you a dollar. I don't think you can be mad about this." Not to mention he totally guilted a friend into buying him ice cream. "WHAT???!" you shriek. Yes, he really did. I'm just as embarrassed as he should be. When I suggested he buy that friend ice cream today, he shrugged one shoulder and said, "We'll see." I have no words to defend him.

At school when I dropped Joey off, I knew better than to try and hug or kiss him. Instead, I presented my fist and said, "Fist bump, buddy?" He looked at my fist and then up at me, and turned and walked away. WHAT. He left me hanging. My own son. AND there were people around, so everyone saw it happen. I said, "JOEY!" and turned back, giggled, and continued walking. "Don't make me chase you for a KISS!" I said, my voice growing a little too loud. I almost did it, too, but realized how weird we might look to the onlookers all around us, so I just stood there, my pathetic fist still in midair, realizing my son believes he is too cool for his mom. Which is just dumb. I think I'm REALLY cool. So there.

Then I was faced with the debacle of what to do with the next thirty minutes before Noah had to be at school. "Let's go get coffee," I said to Noah, but he couldn't really muster any excitement over this since it didn't benefit him in any way. I drove on to our Tim Hortons, the one on our corner that we could walk to in seconds but choose to drive to in minutes because we're THAT lazy. It's a "satellite" shop because it's in a gas station. It's usually empty, which is what I love about it, but for some reason it was really hopping this morning. Even worse, ONE idiot driver didn't know how to handle the growing drive-thru lane and managed to mess up the entire parking lot. I was grid-locked and about fourteenth in line (when I'm usually the ONLY one in line--you can imagine my bitterness). I would have just parked and gone in, but I knew I would never be able to get my car back out. So when the line moved ENOUGH, I drove to the real Tim Hortons a block away. Of course, I got stuck at the only traffic signal between here and there, and it was a LONG one, and I got to watch the entire line move through the drive thru at the gas station shop and then when the light turned green the lot was empty. Like it had never happened.

At the big Tim Hortons, there was a line. Shocker. I parked the car and walked Noah inside. The guy who took my order was new. He poured me decaf instead of caf, which is unacceptable because I'm only there for the caffeine. I'm one of those people who's waiting for in-home caffeine IV systems that are "totally safe and healthy to use." I could deal with the needles to get the caffeine. On our walk back to the car, a pickup truck of what looked like hoboes rumbled into the crosswalk and smirked at me because I had to wait for them (while holding my hot coffee and the hand of my child). Not a big deal, but still.

I looked at the clock and saw that it was now 8:15. I considered heading back home, but decided to head back to the school. "We're going to be late!" Noah moaned.

"No, honey," I assured. "Mommy is NEVER late." Because for all my scatterbrainedness, I am never EVER late. I was raised in a house where the only thing worse than being late was committing a major crime that would be in the newspaper making everyone LOOK AT my family in a negative light. So I am always early. Sometimes I sit in my car and then walk in at just the right moment to make it LOOK LIKE I'm on time, but I'm really always there with time to spare.

Except today. Today, on the usually three-minute ride to Joey and Noah's school, I hit every single traffic light AND ended up driving behind a police officer who was one of those ones who deliberately slows down to drive less than the speed limit so you have to, too. The usual three-minute ride brought me to school at exactly 8:29. When I pulled into the lot, other parents were LEAVING. "I knew it!" Noah wailed. "You made me late!"

"It's the only time, I promise!" I cried as an apology. The car might still have been moving as I dove out into the lot, flung open Noah's door, and dragged him out of his booster seat. I grabbed his backpack and dashed into the school with him flailing under my arm. Inside the doors, we could see his class lining up.

"Put me down!" he hissed, trying to be cool. I was horrified. BOTH kids embarrassed of me in one day? I put him down gently and helped him don his backpack.

I don't think he was able to hide how upset he was about the lateness and the being manhandled as we entered the building. But then something wonderful happened. I'm pretty sure a heavenly light shone down on his wonderful, wonderful teacher as she walked all the way over to him, placed her hands on his shoulders, and crouched down to his level.

"Noah!" she said in an enthusiastic but extremely gentle voice. "I am so glad you're here. I was hoping you would be our line leader today."

When Noah was a baby and had his first real smile ever, he earned himself the lifelong nickname (from me only, I think) "Sunshine." It is the song I sing to him at night. Not every smile is like that, but some definitely still are. And when he beamed at his teacher in that moment, every ray of God's sun was aimed right at her. My heart melted.

So. Bad morning. Really bad. But...one moment made it all okay. I guess it's true. Teachers really do make a difference--even to crazy moms like me. :)

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