Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Motherhood: It's not a job, it's an adventure!

Confession: every morning as I drive the kids to school I pretend I’m a special ops pilot assigned the dangerous mission of dropping fresh bodies into enemy territory. I call this mission: Boots on Ground. Laywoman’s terms: Kids in School Before Late Bell. I play this game not because I harbor any unfulfilled military desires, but because if I succumb to the daily monotony of my life I’d drive my car straight into the red-brick wall of CVS.
          Mornings are awful. My son, Jack, and I, can get out of bed, brush our teeth, wash our face, dress, and be out the door in exactly 12 minutes. We know because we’ve timed it. However, my husband Jim and my daughter Katie are considerably slower. Mornings with them are like being on an acid trip. And I don’t mean a good one. Katie can spend the better part of her day staring at the toothpaste on her toothbrush while Jim stares at his towel as if it’s going to perform the Dance of the Seven Veils for him. And that’s just their first morning task. Times that by the ten others they must perform before they leave the house.
          Breakfast is an exercise in keeping my blood pressure down. While my friend Randi makes her three sons a hardy homemade breakfast every morning, I subscribe to the belief that a little fire in your belly is a good motivator. Jack subscribes to this philosophy, but Katie and Jim have to have their cereal every morning. Katie stares at the little “O’s” of her Cheerios and Jim makes sure he chews 25 times before swallowing each spoonful.  Chew 23 of spoonful #4 is usually when I snap. Jim says hinges open on the top of my head and monsters fly out of my skull. If he only really knew!
         Which brings me to this non-sequitor. I bought Jack a pair of rain boots on-sale at Target for $4.99, but it wasn’t until he put them on one cold, rainy morning that I realized they weren’t a size 5 as the tag read. Some comedian in Target rubber-banded the wrong sizes together. One boot was a size 3 (two sizes too small) and the other was a size 8 (three sizes too big). I didn’t notice this when I purchased them because I was in complete “maniac mode” trying to get out of the store and get the kids from school before they were remanded to the Main Office.
          So here Jack stood before me looking at the uneven feet of his new boots. Our eyes locked in a power-play stare-down. “Just put them on!” I hissed. Obediently, he put them on and didn't say a word. He looked like Quasimodo dragging his size 8 boot and backpack out the front door.  Then over my shoulder I yelled, “KATIE! NOW!!!!” Katie Morticia Adams-ed her way onto the porch. I pulled her coat on, shoved her feet into her boots, and pushed her out the door. She screamed for her umbrella. “MY HAIR!”
          “Don’t worry about your hair!” I yelled. “Just Run, Forrest, Run!” She shoved something into her pocket. As I ran out behind her it felt like my coat was caught. It was Jim holding onto my elbow.
          “What?” I screamed annoyed.
          “I want to give you a kiss good-bye,” he said tenderly.
          “Kiss my…” the final word trailing behind me as I broke free.
          As I burned rubber out of the driveway the clock in the car said we had 4 minutes until the late bell. No problem. I can get across town in 2 minutes!
          As my car squealed around the corner of Fort Lee Road, I illegally pulled up to the fire hydrant five hundred feet from where the third, fourth and fifth grade parents are instructed to drop off children and ordered, “Run, Jack! Run! YOU CAN DO THIS!” He dutifully jumped from the car, but as he hit his stride the size 8 boot flipped off and flew through the air before landing splash into a rogue puddle. I popped my head out of the car window and yelled, “Leave it Jack! Go! Run Buddy, run!!!!” And he did--the toe of his sock flapping from the weight of the water. Meanwhile, Katie casually stepped out of the car and strolled as if she was making her entrance into a garden party with the Queen. That's when I noticed something was off and thought, as she sauntered away from the car,“What the hell is that on her head?"  I groaned when I realized what it was, "Oh, Dear God!” She had somehow managed to smuggle a blue shower cap out of the house and was now wearing it upon her head so her hair wouldn't get wet. I reached down to the floor of the mini-van, grabbed an empty snack-sized Doritos bag and began to breathe into it hoping to ease the pain that was shooting from my arm to my chest.
          When my breathing returned to normal, and my pulse slowed down, I climbed out of the car and waded through the steady stream of rain to retrieve the boot that by now had been sufficiently run over by just about every third, fourth, and fifth grade parent.
Boot on Ground, kids in school, heart-attack avoided. Mission accomplished. 

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