The imposter

Sometimes I feel like I’m a character in a movie – one of those vaguely amusing films in which the parents go away and leave the kids with a babysitter and ridiculousness ensues. Except in my case, I feel like I’m the babysitter under whose authority everything goes awry.

I woke up this morning, jolted awake by the sense that I’d overslept. 7:15, my alarm clock pronounced from its dresser-perch at the foot of the bed. 7:15 being ‘7’ because the clock is 15 minutes fast despite my having tried innumerable ways to fix the time.

[Who lives with a 15-minutes-fast alarm clock because they can’t set it to the correct time?]

The Gort has to leave the house at 7:20am in order to catch his bus, which means waking up at 7 o’clock is ‘pushing it’. It’s not un-doable – we Johnsons have a long history of making the impossible happen when it comes to waking up late and somehow getting to school on time – but it’s certainly not an ideal way to begin one’s morning.

I raced into the Gort’s room and summoned him from the pit of slumberland. ‘Wake up, wake up!’ I urged him to consciousness. ‘I can’t, I’m too tired,’ he groaned. I let him be for a moment while I went about my (abbreviated) morning routine. ‘It is awfully dark out for 7 o’clock,’ it suddenly occurred to me.

I checked the time on the stove – the only source of time we adjusted following Saturday night’s ‘fall back’. Sure enough, 6:00. As in, we could have easily slept for another 30-45 minutes.

By this time Percy had jumped out of bed and the Gort was almost dressed. ‘You can sleep for 30 more minutes,’ I delivered the news to my oldest and he promptly flopped back onto his bed.

By 7am, lunches had been packed for everyone and Percy was well into a tantrum of ear-searing proportions over, wait for it, the fact that I’d suggested he take a yogurt and granola bar for his school snack instead of yogurt and a slice of pumpkin loaf.

Maybe he was tired.

After dropping off the youngest boys at school, I headed to my old-lady breakfast spot of choice: Sunterra. After ordering the veggie omelette with hash browns, I sat down with friends to discuss my two most recent preoccupations: personality tests and seasonal color analysis. I blame the former on Facebook and too many friends posting links to various online personality tests and the latter, well I think it’s part of my ongoing attempt to look as if I have a modicum of hemoglobin.

Both, however, want responses to questions I can’t answer.

‘You are relaxed most of the time?”

Define ‘relaxed’? Is it: ‘not yelling at children’ or ‘sitting on a sofa reading a magazine’ or none of the above?

‘What is your eye color?”

Brown? Hazel? I actually texted a picture of my eye to another friend to get her opinion and her response was: ‘that’s tricky’.

At least it’s not just me.

But really, who sends another person a picture of her eye?!

After a leisurely two-hour breakfast, I hightailed it to the school to pick up young Percy. Morning Kindergarten ends at 10:54. Every single day (except one) I arrive at school at 10:54, where I proceed to stand and stare at the time on my phone for the next 5-7 minutes, waiting for the door to open and the kids to be dismissed. Today, I arrived at school at 10:57 which, by all accounts would still have given me a minimum of two minutes to stand around and not talk to the other parents (see personality test: ‘you find it easy to introduce yourself to other people) except it was the second day in the history of the 2014 school year that they had dismissed the kids on time.

I raced, looking much like a bloodhound I’m sure, to the main entrance where one little 5 year old boy stood beside his teacher waiting for his irresponsible, 3-minutes-late, mother.

‘You’ve been late to pick me up 2 times,’ the five year old accused as we walked back to the hastily-parked minivan. To which I replied, rather lamely, ‘yeah, but I’ve been on time all the others.’

‘Are you up for going to Marshall’s with me,’ I changed the subject. ‘Yeah, but can we go home first and get my pumpkin loaf?’ Again with the pumpkin loaf!

My main objective for going to Marshall’s was to find a bag-purse-holdall for an upcoming trip. I’d found such a bag at Winner’s the previous day, but (see personality test: ‘you are often accused of being indecisive’) I wasn’t completely sold on the purchase. Because I have bordering-on-ridiculous criteria for buying a bag, and I’m not just talking about color, fabric and price. I’m talking about the presence of logos, rhinestones, buckles, fringe, the color of the metalware, the shape and depth of the bag, as well as the number of zipper compartments.

I hate shopping with myself. And I’m guessing Percy does too.

‘What do you think of this bag,’ I asked my pint-sized fashion consultant. He offered a thumbs-up or down in response, throwing in the occasional effusive ‘good’.

‘You should avoid purses that are weird or strange,’ he told me after a while, before adding ‘I read about it.’ ‘You read about purses?’

The rest of my time at Marshall’s was devoted to holding all manner of colors up to my face in an effort to determine if I am an Autumn or Winter. I appear not to fall completely in either category. Cream. Yes? Khaki. No. Navy. No? Hot pink. Yes? Which, for a person who ‘does not like to be the center of attention’ wearing hot pink is simply not an option.

A few hours later I was sitting in the living room trying to extricate some information about the school day from my older boy-children. ‘I got a 25/30 on Spanish,’ the Gort offered.

’25/30?’ I established in a voice that possibly indicated I was less than enthused by this news.

‘What, it’s excellent’ he assured me.

‘But in the column of possible correct answers there are 30, and in the column of correct answers there are 25. If I’m doing the math correctly, 5 are missing. What happened to the five?

‘Yeah, that’s like 85% the professor chimed in through barely-suppressed laughter. It was clear from the smile on the Gort’s face that any attempt to inspire him to greater achievement had thoroughly failed.

A real parent would not have this problem.

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