This year my littlest started school. To complicate things, she and her sister are at different schools. The schools are only about 5-10 minutes apart (depending on traffic) and the start times line up perfectly. C has to be to school before 8am, E before 8:15am. It’s a little tight, but doable.
This morning, things seemed to be going relatively smooth and I relaxed for a minute. The girls were eating breakfast, lunches were packed, backpacks were by the door ready to go. I felt on top of things, so instead of just combing their hair, I decided to style it. I took an extra three minutes to put ponytails in their hair. They looked cute. I admired my handiwork for a brief second before glancing at my watch and breaking the spell. Those 3 minutes were ones we didn’t have and we had to GO. Shoes on, out the door, down to the car, all in a blur.
As I’m pulling out of my parking space, I look at the clock and we are less than 5 minutes later than normal. We should be fine, or so I thought. I had one girl finishing her breakfast, the other doing her homework. This all still seemed under control, if not a little pleasant. I was helping the eldest work through her times tables (should have reviewed those more over the summer) and engaging the youngest in conversation. It was a supermom moment.
And then we got stuck behind a city bus. After several blocks, I was able to get around it, but we had already lost another couple of minutes. This still didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me, until I realized I wasn’t factoring in school traffic. C’s class starts 20 minutes before the rest of the school, so as long as we are on time, I don’t have to contend with the other 400 families bringing their kids to school. When we got to the four-way stop that feeds into the school, I was behind a long line of cars.
C’s school is on the side of a mountain. When I finally turned into the school’s steep parking lot, I realized there were no close parking spaces left. I made a quick decision to look for spaces at the top of the hill where it’s not technically part of the parking lot, but much closer to the gate. When I got up there, the only spot available involved driving over a curb. The girls enjoyed the bumpy ride more than our car did.
I jumped out and started to unbuckle C when I noticed her face was covered in her breakfast. As I grabbed a wipe and cleaned her up, E asked if she could just stay in the car and work on her homework. I wanted to say yes. It would take me less than 5 minutes to walk C in. I knew she would be fine, but all the stories about parents getting in trouble for leaving their children unattended in cars played through my mind and so I said, “I think 9 is old enough to stay in the car for 5 minutes, but I don’t know what the law is and I don’t want to get in trouble with the police.” Of course, another mom overheard this whole conversation and shot me a judgy look.
As we ran C in, I remembered that today is the day that she is has substitutes (she has two teachers). I forgot to remind her about it this morning. Walking up to her classroom I said super cheerfully, “Remember, today is the day you get to meet the substitutes!” I gave her a hug, shoved her in her classroom and ran back to the car.* Of course, judgy mom was standing behind me for this great parenting moment as well.
E and I got back in the car, backed off of the curb and drove on to her school, with her finishing her homework along the way. She finished the last problem as we pulled up into the drop off line. I helped her stuff everything back into her backpack and she jumped out–at least 3 minutes before the tardy bell rang.
Only 170 more school mornings before summer.
*”Shoved” is strong language. Maybe “physically encouraged” would be a better term. Also, C loves school and was excited about meeting the substitutes when we talked about it a few days ago.