Tuesday, February 5, 2008

First Days



I was awake at 5:15 and, before the alarm clock even had a chance to sound, I was out of bed. Ignoring the sandpaper that seemed to have replaced my eyelids while I had been sleeping, I stumbled into the bathroom and began my morning.

As I brushed my teeth, the mirror informed me that a perfunctory shower was not going to be sufficient today. My hair was a tangle of sleep and neglect that was threatening mutiny if it didn’t get the love and attention of a good conditioner. Picture brillo pad meets electrical outlet and you’ve got a good idea of what I was seeing.

Ten minutes later, my freshly laundered tresses are wrapped in a towel turban and smelling of citrus and sun, and I am standing in my closet. I had listened to my daughter’s advice and had chosen my outfit the night before, but this morning, I felt it was necessary to second-guess my decision.
Would the new, light brown, crisp cotton trousers really make the proper statement in the middle of winter? Perhaps the green plaid wool skirt would be better. But…I’ve never seen anyone else in a skirt. I’ve volunteered with these people for a year and a half and I’m the only one I know who has ever worn a skirt. I spend the next too long weighing the pros and cons of each choice, finally settling on my original outfit, a symphony of chocolate and gold.

My smart brown flats tip tap on the hardwood floor and I head down to the kitchen.

My mind swims with the tasks that need to be completed before I head out the door.
The sun is not yet even a hint on the horizon and I impress myself by actually thinking about dinner. Usually, thoughts of dinner do not even enter my cluttered mind until at least 5pm, when the hungry masses start circling. But today, I am all efficiency and planning and I drag my crock-pot out of the cobwebs at the back of the cupboard and set it on the counter. My youngest enters the kitchen as I am browning the pork roast.
His face betrays his confusion as he glances out the window, checks the round red clock on the wall, and rubs the sleep out of his eyes.
“Uh…breakfast?”
“Nope,” I reply succinctly. I’m all business this morning, no time for wasted words. “Dinner. Why don’t you go get ready for school while I get the oatmeal started.”
He wanders back out of the kitchen and I hear him thumping back up the stairs.
I flip roast out of the pan and it lands with a plop on top of the vegetables that blanket the bottom of the crock-pot. The smell of garlic and spices dance in the air, and the oatmeal starts to burble on the stove.

I start to yell down the stairs to make sure my oldest son is up, and my holler bounces off his body as he rounds the corner at exactly the same moment. His sleepy senses are not happy with my unexpected greeting, and he growls a brusque, “Morning,” and brushes past me on his way up the stairs to take a shower.

I hear the bells on my daughter’s bedroom door jingle and I know that she is up and moving. I decide to let her ease into the morning without any interruptions from me.

I begin making lunches. Soup and nuts for my daughter, leftovers, a sandwich, extra vegetables and trail mix for her oldest brother, pizza and juice for the baby. Everyone gets cookies and fruit. I decide on humus, veggies and an orange for me.

It’s 7:15, my children are just sitting down for breakfast, and I’ve finished my meal preparations for the whole day! Woohoo.

I’d like to say that the rest of the day went as smoothly, but alas, it was not to be.
I neglected to take into account the whole driving part.
I have this strange, misguided, misbegotten idea that I can get to anywhere in Portland in fifteen minutes or less. It’s not true. I’ve lived here for over twenty-five years. I have repeatedly proven to myself the absolute absurdity of this notion. And yet, I challenge it on an almost daily basis because…it works for most places that I need to go.

Today, I find that getting to work is not one of the places that falls within my fifteen minute parameter, especially when I overshoot and go forty blocks past the office.
Going home is no better. I have half an hour to get to school to pick up my son from extended day before they would start charging the $1 a minute late fee.
No problem, except, by the time I leave work I have only twenty-five minutes. Factor in the fact that the rest of humanity is clogging the cities arteries, and that every single stoplight in the entire town is red, and you can see how I might have a slight bit of a problem!

I pull up outside school and the clock on my car ticks to 5:59. I race inside, desperate to beat my 6:00 deadline and I realize that I have no idea where to find my son. A helpful parent points me toward the whiteboard that informs people of the whereabouts of their children. Only, it lists the names of the extended day teachers, not the students and I have no idea which of the six teachers listed belongs to my son.
When I finally reach the basement classroom where they are hiding my baby, he is the last student there. He is wearing his backpack and standing on his coat. I come flying through the door, panic personified, and he smiles gently and almost coos, “Hi Mummy. How was work?”

His calmness washes over me, a warm ocean wave cleansing my anxiety.

“Hi, I’m Liz,” his teacher says, extended her hand to me. “You need to sign him out on the clipboard,” she explains, gesturing to the table in the corner. I head over to the clipboard and I hear her smile to my son, “Wow, this is not a hurry up, I’ve got ice cream melting in the car kind of mom.”

I feel a warm hand grasping mine and pulling me toward the door. Soon I am lost in the story of a day in the life of a nine-year old boy and the excitement of his first day in extended day.

Life is good!

8 comments:

Amber said...

You sound like a Super Woman!

:)

Molly said...

I was having palpitations right along with you! That is so true about the red lights. When you need them to be green....

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I've been so anxious to hear how the transition is going. Can't wait to hear about the time at work, did it fly by? Did you choose the right clothes?

Love all the good, juicy details of color, sounds and smells! Take an A!

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Amber,
Thank you for your vote of confidence.

Molly,
Yes, I think that sometimes the devil convinces the traffic control gods to cede their powers to him.

Carrie,
I think, even with trousers, I was overdressed, but hey, I looked good and that's what counts.
Time did fly by, and after reading countless manuals with very small print, I'm thinking that it may soon be time to trade in the dime store glasses for a "real" pair.

Wanda said...

Ah...the 15 minute myth. Did you have to pay any dollars for late fees? HA! A late fee on your son--I love it.

By the way, you ARE super woman.

riseoutofme said...

Hi ...found you via Molly!

I reckon mirrors and red lights should be banned in the am ...

Glad it was a good day!

Nancy said...

I love this glimpse into your life. I especially love the morning crock pot scene. I don't know if it is your brilliant writing skill or the fact that this so resembles my mornings that I was in that post! I think it's both!

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Wanda,
The late fee gods were kind and the clock in the extended day room is two minutes slower than the clock in my car.

Rise,
Thanks for visiting. Molly is wonderful, isn't she.

Nancy,
I feel the same way when I read your posts. Maybe it's a parallel universe thing.