If you’ve ever read three or four posts on this blog, you likely deduced that the Johnson parents are pathetically inept when it comes to getting up in the morning. We would rather go to bed at 3am than get up at 6am. Sad, but true, yet against all odds and better judgement, we’ve managed to perpetuate this gypsy lifestyle for, oh, the better part of sixteen years.
[Save a brief tenure in the MN when we had actual, real 9-5ish jobs, even if we were always teetering on the edge of being late. In fact, when people ask the inevitable ‘where were you on 9-11’, I am forced to confess I was driving my white Jeep Cherokee Sport to work. And I was late.]
So last week the Johnsons faced the ultimate challenge – known to everyone else around the world – as a regular work day. The professor had agreed to do some consulting and had to get up at the ungodly hour of…….7am….for four days in a row, in order to leave the house by 7.30. Ish. And in order to accomplish this task billions of people manage perfectly well on a daily basis, he had to rely on an alarm.
I can’t remember the last time we utilized an alarm.
On Tuesday, at 7am, the [virtual] rooster crowed from his phone and we – because I actually felt guilty about the extent of his suffering- got up, in the dark, and began our day. Before the clock struck 7.30, I’d made smoothies, and coffee and packed lunch-snacks for the boys.
Incroyable, as the French might say… I think.
Energized by the newfound structure to our day, I embarked on a cleaning marathon, dumbfounded by the amount of dirt three boys can generate in a comparatively short time; marveling at the level of productivity chez moi. ‘This is the best thing that ever happened to us,’ I thought to myself.
The phone rang. It was the professor. ‘There’s no way I could do this every day,’ he lamented, as he walked through the corporate maze of downtown Calgary in search of Starbucks. But I was still giddy from this newfound sense of normalcy. My husband had called me on his lunch break! We were talking! On the phone! For two whole minutes!
‘Well, I think it’s good for us,’ I opined, ‘we’re getting up early, you’re getting out of the house at 7.30, I’m cleaning..’ And the boys were extraordinarily kind and cooperative, the Gort responding to all requests with an enthusiastic ‘yes, Mom!’
I thought back to that Seinfeld episode with Bizzarro World: we had turned into the Bizzarro Johnsons.
Day two began in much the same way. Smoothies. Coffee. Lunches. Walking to school. Cleaning…Except the garbage pick-up happened fifteen minutes earlier than usual – before I’d wheeled the black cart out to the alley. Which meant we’d have two weeks’ worth of trash sitting in the cart. And my formerly sweet Walton-esque boys spent most of the after-school hours at each other’s throats. And, after being gone for nine and a half hours, the professor texted me: ‘I have a basketball game…….’
And then it was dinner time and I hadn’t really made anything for the occasion. I turned to the refrigerator and inventoried the leftovers: squash soup, lentils with roasted tomatoes, quinoa with roasted cauliflower and pomegranate, roasted vegetables. It seemed cruel.
I called the boys to dinner. I set the bounty of vegetarian fare before them. The squash soup. The lentils. The quinoa with cauliflower. AND the roasted vegetables with ‘the purple things’ as the Gort calls beets. The very things young Percy had once popped in his mouth and, with bulging eyes and contorting throat, choked down; looking like someone had just put a live frog in his mouth Causing the equally beet-averse professor to have a fit of the [suppressed] giggles.
The boys’ eyes grew wide in disbelief. Surely there would be something…else? Chicken, sausages, tacos…..anything?
‘Mother’s revenge,’ I whispered to the professor, who had walked through the front door, donned his basketball clothes, and hurried away to his game (early, I’m sure) once he got wind of the brotherly tensions.