I was reading a fellow mom’s blog a week or two ago, in which she berated herself for being thirty minutes late to pick up her child from school one day.
The first thought that popped in my head was not ‘oh, that could easily be me’ it was ‘wow, what a slacker’. Because I’d never been late for pick-up. Yet. And no sooner had I thought it, but an all-too familiar feeling of doom came over me. A ‘because I judged, I will now commit the same offense’ kind of feeling.
Because that’s just how it goes. The second I think ‘well, I will never do that,’ it happens. Usually the next day.
So this week arrived. On Monday I decided to keep the Gort home from school. He’d been acting kind of sick the previous day, and with the ever-present flu mania, I decided it was better to err on the safe side and keep him at home. Which, admittedly, isn’t the best for my mental health; having three screaming boys confined in my home for eight hours. But in the interest of public health, I figured I’d take one for the team.
Tuesday arrived. I dropped him off at Kindergarten, on time. But I hadn’t fed him any lunch. So I stopped at a convenience store and picked up a bag of chips and some m&m’s. Not sure which food group that falls under. After dropping him off, the Hen and I (and the sleeping babe) stopped at the pizza shop. We ate our slice of Hawaiian in the van. Classy! Afterwards, I stopped at a friend’s house for coffee and, lo and behold, by the time I got in my car-van, it was ‘pick-up time’.
And I still had a five minute drive ahead of me.
I pulled into the parking lot and R-A-N to the pick-up spot. Not caring if I looked like a total weirdo. My inner mantra, which I’ve since passed on to my son (‘run, run like the wind‘) when we’re trying to beat the school bus at drop-off, spurred me on.
My cherub and one of his classmates were waiting listlessly at the school door; the last ones standing. Everyone else had been picked up. He saw me and ran towards me and we walked back to the car, right past his teacher. ‘Was he sick yesterday,’ she asked me. With what I interpreted to be a look of doubt upon her face.
‘Yeah, he had a bit of a cold, so I decided to keep him home.’ She nodded her head. Maybe it was my overactive imagination, but I’m pretty sure she was thinking to herself ‘sick? He looks perfectly fine to me..apparently school is just not that important to you. I mean you can’t even pick the kid up on time!’
But maybe she wasn’t thinking any of that. Maybe I was just feeling guilty about the late pick up and lack of lunch.
Wednesday arrived. And somehow I was late for pick-up. Again?! I ran to the door and there stood my son. Solo. The previous day’s fellow slacker mom had gotten her act together.
Thursday arrived. I’d had forty-five minutes to kill before drop-off, so I stopped at a friend’s house for a quick chat and some cake. When I got in the car it was time to drop him off and I still had a ten minute drive to school. As I drove towards the school, I saw all the afternoon Kindergarten parents drive past me. In the opposite direction. Because they’d already dropped their kids off.
I parked the car, and the Gort and I walked into the school. To report for our public flogging in the office. ‘What’s your name,’ she asked him. He offered it enthusiastically, even spelling it for her. ‘Were you at a dentist or doctor’s appointment?’ she asked him.
I wondered why she didn’t address me during any of this. Because I’m clearly a slacker-mom? Because she’s trying to get the Kindergartener to take responsibility? Or to see if she can catch him in a lie….like the weather-balloon-boy saga?
He looked confused by the medical line of questioning, so I intervened: ‘no, we’re just late.’ She handed him his pink slip and sent him on his way.
I contemplated sitting in the parked van with my two sleeping children for the two and a half hours until pick-up.