It began with a paper towel.
I walked past the bathroom this morning and caught a glimpse of our first grader, perched upon the stainless steel trash can. Glancing in the mirror while frantically dabbing at his hair with a paper towel.
It’s a scene that will likely replay itself in about six or seven years’ time. Except, of course, the bathroom door will be closed.
‘What are you doing,’ I asked. He glanced back at me, not quite old enough to be embarassed, yet. ‘I’m trying to get the fire smell out of my hair,’ he replied in an irritated-slash-panicked voice. As if boys all over the world are patting their hair with paper towels to rid it of that unmistakable campfire smell.
Our church had had its annual ‘Night in Bethlehem’ the previous evening. Afterwards, as we walked back to the car, I caught a substantial whiff of fire-smell from my darlings’ heads. But, it was late-ish, by the time we got home. And neither I nor the professor were inclined to delay bedtime by suggesting a bath for the semi-blondies. (I did, however, wash all of our jackets because they were dirty and stinky from the fire.)
I looked at my pitiful boy-child doing his best to rid himself of the smoke-smell. ‘Okay, go take a bath,’ I relented. In an effort to stop the insanity. ‘I need a bath too, I smell stinky toooo,’ the three year old Greek chorus chimed in. It was 7.41am. We needed to leave at 8. And the boys were sitting in the bathtub.
Without some significant hustling, we didn’t stand a chance of getting to school on time.
I thought about hustling. I thought about throwing some food in the Gort’s lunchbox. And feeding him his breakfast….in the car. And escorting him to school even though my hair looked like it had languished in a vat of oil. Overnight.
And then – blame it on vanity or unwillingness to start my morning like a chicken without a head – I made a conscious decision not to hustle. The boys were having fun in their bath. The baby and the professor were still sleeping. I’d promised the stinky-and-hungry-to-bed boys pancakes in the morning. And I was going to make some pancakes.
(Even if it meant getting a late slip.)
So I made the pancakes. And hot chocolate. And, for the first time in a very long time, we five sat down at the table and ate breakfast together. And the boys were polite to one another. The Hen even shared some of the beads he’d gotten at church the night before. And the Gort actually said something like ‘that’s totally fair’ when the Hen indicated he didn’t want to part with his purple beads.
As I walked upstairs to cleanse my own hair, I [briefly] contemplated skipping school altogether. On account of all the bonhomie and goodwill going around. A few minutes later, I stepped out of the shower. Just as the phone rang. It was the school, wondering what had happened to our blond-wonder. And our oldest two were fighting.
So, we drove to school. With exceedingly clean hair.
‘Did you have an appointment,’ the secretary interrogated-chirped. I thought about saying ‘yeah, with a plate of pancakes,’ but I didn’t.