The managed chaos of an otherwise normal weekday morning neared completion. I looked up at the clock. 7:05a, go time.
Everyone was still in the bathroom, busily brushing teeth and building piles of stalagmah (aka ‘sink goo’). Crimini. We’re gonna miss the bus if we don’t get out of here soon.
Ginny never did find her other shoe. Together, we rifled through her closet for a different pair to wear. It didn’t help that it was still in complete disarray from the previous weekend. She was in tears.
“I don’t want to wear these shoes!” she wailed. “Today is P.E. and I need my tennies!”
“Well, then you should have put them away when you took them off yesterday and you wouldn’t be in this mess,” I calmly told her, now racing down the stairs. Her search for the missing pink shoe would have to resume in the afternoon.
The five of us scurried out the door. The fog was thick, and it was so dark that the street, much less our trees, were barely visible from the porch. Quick switch to Plan B. We’d have to drive to the bus stop, waiting in the safety of the van instead of standing in the open with no sidewalk for protection. I commented on the boys’ silly bedheads; they apparently ignored my request to smooth them out. Sigh. If they don’t care, I don’t care.
My glasses were still on the kitchen counter, but at least I got my clothes on. The extra pair kept in the glove box would have to do. Though I could see nothing up close, a 4-yr-old prescription was adequate for driving the short distance. “Good enough to drive” is what I need should a keen officer notice the restriction on my driver’s license. That’s a ticket I could do without.
The drive to the corner could not have been slower. The fog was so thick, the headlamps ricocheted off the mist and directed back toward us. Anxiously, we looked ahead for the bus lights, but would we even see them if it arrived before we did? All we could see was glare.
At the exact time we arrived at the corner, the bus pulled up and the loading lights came on. He had already seen me coming. Fred is a patient and kind bus driver, always waving and smiling. This morning, though, I was not the patient one, safely but anxiously pushing and herding my griping group across the street. We made it by the hair of our chinny chin chin. Thankfully, too. At least I wouldn’t be driving the kids five miles in these treacherous conditions.
The calm quiet of the evacuated van soothed me. I started thinking about Scott’s mom. Scott left for the airport hours earlier to go see her in the hospital, for what may well be their final reunion. In a slightly selfish way, I missed his being gone during mornings like this. He has a way of bringing order to the chaos, calm to a storm.
But he wouldn’t be back for a whole week. And it was now proving to be a very long week.
Deep in thought as my heart rate settled from the whole ordeal, I parked the car and looked forward to finishing my cup of tea in inside. I tried to turn the door knob. It was locked. Ginny, the last one out, hadn’t unlocked the door before she closed it behind her. No problem — I kept an extra key in the garage for such an occasion. This was not the first time I’ve been locked out of my house.
But the key wasn’t there. Where is it? I dug around; perhaps it fell behind something. It’s not here! Oh crap. Where was that danged key? When did I use it last? Did I forget to hang it back up?! Doh. I’ve really outdone myself this time. (My one-shoe’d daughter might not need to know about this one.)
Scott’s long gone now so Grandma’s house it is. She’d have my key and I could enjoy a warm cup of coffee and mom stories in good company before coming back home. She’d no doubt get a laugh out of this — I didn’t even have my shoes on, no cell phone, no purse. My hair was a wreck. I couldn’t remember what the law was for driving without shoes. Could I be ticketed for that? Certainly they’d get for not having a license or proof of insurance. Never mind; I’ll just drive very carefully in this fog. I headed out of the garage for the 25-min commute to her house. I crossed my fingers and toes she’d be there.
I knocked on the door, unannounced, and my aunt greeted me, surprised, still wiping the sleep from her eyes.
“Your mom’s not here. She left for the Quilt Show just a few minutes ago.” I called her cell phone. She was indeed already parked far away in downtown Houston. I’m doomed.
Well, at least I can get a cup of coffee, I thought to myself. Scott’s gone, Mom’s gone, the neighbor’s are gone, and I need to relax a bit before I figure out the rest of the day.
As I was thinking and talking through which window would be the best one to break, my aunt offered to drive me downtown to get my house key from Mom. Very nice, but no. Thanks. “It’s a shame one of your kids doesn’t have a key.” She shook her head, feeling my frustration. My memory sprang back to life, the coffee now doing its job.
I put a key in Scottie’s backpack more than a year ago. Was it still there? Is it even the same backpack he’s using this year?? I just couldn’t remember. It’s certainly worth checking.
The school secretary knows me well; a PTA board member and frequent volunteer, I am greeted by her smiling face at least every other day. She graciously offered to go check my child’s backpack and call me back.
As luck would have it, she found the key; for once, I remembered right. She put it in an envelope and left it for whenever I got there. Perhaps I was more thankful than usual; my butt has been saved by school staff on several occasions. This just might top them all.
At last, I arrived at school, barefooted, disheveled, but relieved. It was Literature Day that day; I bumped into the assistant principal as I entered the front lobby, dressed as the King’s messenger in Cinderella. He was carrying a shoe.
He looked down at my bare feet. “You look like you could use a shoe. Does this one fit?” He offered the tiny, kindergartener-sized glass slipper. We both laughed. What a crazy morning, and now it’s almost over.
The house key went straight away onto my key ring. I sure don’t want to lose this one.
More than two hours passed since the rush out the door to the bus stop. I pulled into the garage and went inside the house, safe and sound — no broken window, no expensive driving violation, just another semi-normal chaotic morning. I finished my (now cold) cup of tea while walking around turning every light in the house from on to off (geez). There they were, my daily-wear glasses, right where I left them on the counter. I put them on.
In order to prevent another lock-out, I decided it might wise to put the key in the secret spot. I’d get another cut later to return to the backpack — and maybe an extra for Mom’s house. Exiting through the garage — checking that the door knob was not locked in paranoia — I opened the space for the key and reached to hang the replacement.
Wait. There was a key there, where before there wasn’t. There is a key there!
The spare key had been nestled in its spot the entire time. I laughed at myself. So I hadn’t forgotten to replace it the last time I used it — I just didn’t see it! Then it dawned on me.
Earlier in the morning, I had on the wrong glasses. I wasn’t wearing my bifocals.
* * *
What “old” things have you done lately?
How do you manage the house and kids when a spouse is away?