There are days when school drop-off is as smooth as buttah. When Nick comes down in his uniform instead of his swim clothes, Gabe actually eats his breakfast instead of channeling that kid from Close Encounters who made everything into that freaky mountain, and Olivia sits patiently and watches the dog eat instead of trying to climb into his water bowl.
Last Wednesday was not one of those days.
It began with what should have been a very straightforward task – changing Gabe’s pull-up. I had switched to doing it while he was standing because I had read in one of the many parenting books stacked on the nightstand that this less submissive position helps build mutual respect.
What it does is build a parent’s reflexes to catch whatever dollop…or two…or several…happen to fall between your child’s legs.
“Gabe! No poo poo on the carpet,” I exclaimed…and not for the first time. His smile and accompanying shrug implied “s*** happens”.
When we walked into Olivia’s room, we were overwhelmed by the smell. Apparently, our Olivia is a stealth vomitter, for there had been no gagging sounds from the baby monitor, no screams of protest waking up covered in last night’s dinner. Mind you, she’ll scream bloody murder if you so much as look at another child when you should be looking at her (Diva!), but apparently chunky carrots, chicken and broccoli with a healthy helping of stomach acid are perfectly ok to roll around in.
“Well, Olivia. I guess it’s bath time,” I said as I picked crusted remnants from her hair.
In the meantime, Nick was debating which navy blue uniform shirt he would wear – “Nick, just pick one! They are all the same!” – while simultaneously singing “DJ Turn it up…up…up…up…up.”
Surely breakfast downstairs could not be any worse.
Oh, Nadine, you naïve little fool.
The moment I put Olivia on the ground she adopted her new favorite position – arms outstretched, stomach rigid, back arched, she was the quintessential pre-ripcord parachutist, complete with wide-mouthed, full-bodied yell. I tentatively offered her a sippy cup, which she studied, then threw across the floor, milk trailing in its wake.
“Well, sweetie. If you want to milk, you know how to get it.” The shift from bottle to sippy was taking a shade longer than we had expected, but it’s not like she would go to college still sucking on an Avent, right?
Gabe had made his way to the table where he had decided that instead of eating his gummy vitamins today, he would decorate his face with them, after a pre-application lick.
“Nana, look! I fancy!”
No, Gabe, that was not the first word that came to me…nor the second or third. But I’ll give you a hint: my first word was “what”; my second was “the” and my third was “fu-“
“Gabe made a mask! He’s an artist!” Nick reached his hand towards his own piles of gummies. I pinned him with my Defcon 1 stare. “Don’t. Even. Think. About. It.” He sulked through the rest of his breakfast while Gabe kept trying to catch my eye, tilting his head from side to side.
“I so funny! I so funny!” Oh Gabe, you are such a middle child.
Our upstairs delay had cost us precious time, and we left the house a full 15 minutes late. Not a good plan when there are torrential rains. And even as I drove veeeeeerrrrry carefully, I was trying to calculate how we could make up that time and still beat the 8:05 bell at Nick’s school. Fortunately, Gabe and Olivia go to the same daycare, so at least that drop off would be easy.
Normally, Nick walks Gabe to his classroom while I drop Olivia off at hers. Then I go upstairs and make sure Gabe is settled in before Nick and I head to the car. But I forgot that Gabe was transitioning to a new classroom and teacher, so after I dropped off a howling Olivia – “How could you leave me?! You’re a terrible mother – Oh! They have cheerios…nyum nyum nyum nyum.” – I bounded up the stairs where I met Nick and Gabe still in the hallway.
“He won’t go in his classroom.” Nick seemed at a loss and I immediately regretted sending him up with Gabe. He’s a big brother, not a third parent.
“Gabe, hon. You have Miss Rachel today. We’re all done with Miss Julie.” I held his hand to lead him back to his room, but he would have none of it. Instead, he ran down the hall screaming, “Miss Julie! I want Miss Julie!” And when said Miss Julie opened her door – she and Gabe have some psychic connection or something – he threw himself into her arms, clinging for dear life.
“My poor Gabe. My poor Gabe.” She whispered as her eyes filled with tears. Oh jeez. I’m sad too, but I’ve got another kid to get to school. Could we wrap this up? Harsh, maybe. But I also know that if Nick misses the first bell, his whole day goes a little wonky, which we don’t need after 2 pink conduct slips.
I pried Gabe from her, carrying him down the hall in his #2 meltdown setting – rigid – as opposed to him #1 meltdown setting – limp – and deposited him with the equally competent and caring Miss Rachel who assured me that despite Gabe’s Cicely Tyson Roots impersonation, he would be just fine.
“Gabe, I promise I will come back to pick you up. I love you very much.” After a deep sigh and a kiss to the forehead, we left.
At 8:04:30 we were pulling into the parking lot at Nick’s school. The rains were still coming down strong, which was good, because it meant that the kids were in the cafeteria and filing out usually took a shade longer than when they were outside.
We were going to make it!
One minute, Nick was running across the parking lot.
The next minute he was hydroplaning on his stomach towards the front door.
Yeah, we made the bell.
We also spent the next 20 minutes in the nurse’s office looking for gauze and bactine since the nurse didn’t arrive until 9. As we sat on the couch, we took a few deep breaths together and listened to morning prayers.
“How ya doing, buddy?”
“I’m ok. At least I didn’t rip my shirt.” Uh yeah, just took a few layers off your skin.
“I think next time we’ll just be late. How does that sound?”
He nodded his head, relaxing a little deeper into my embrace.
I softly hummed the first notes from “59th Street Bridge”.
“You got to make the morning last,” Nick sang in response.
“Just kicking down the cobble stones,” I followed
He looked up at me, smiling, as we sang the last line together.
“Looking for fun and feelin’ grooooooovy.”