This week was better than last week, which was better than the week before.
It’s a hard thing to remember, that it’s better, when you’re late for school because the week three Kindergarten child is practicing Operation: Stalling and when you finally get everyone in coats and shoes, about to leave at the last possible minute because you were planning to drive, yes, even though it’s three blocks, because after Kindergarten you are taking the other child to preschool, you realize that your house/car keys aren’t on the hook where you left them so you wander the kitchen frantically muttering dammit dammit under your breath, trying not to let the children hear you.
It turns out your husband took your keys as well as his own and is on his way to god knows where for a staff retreat OVERNIGHT and you are out of panic and into adrenalin so you drag the children by their ever-so-reluctant hands up the four miles, I mean three blocks, to school, passing by three other moms skipping happily back home already. The moms look at you and say, “Oof, bad day?” and you realize that you must look about as frenzied as you feel, and as sweaty, and you suddenly are acutely aware that you skipped the shower because you’re going to run later, when both kids are in school, which is happening today.
It is happening. Today is the day you get ninety minutes to yourself: OK, now it’s only seventy-five minutes but that’s OK. It’s still happening.
You parade your child to the school office where he peers up over the tall desk at the school secretary who asks his name and hands him a late slip and then you walk him to class and run back down the hill with the other child so that you can get your keys from your husband who has now, very apologetically, returned from his halfway-to-retreat point. You are fifteen minutes late to preschool, which is not bad considering you got stuck behind a garbage truck for three blocks, but at least you don’t get pulled over by the cops, because you forgot your wallet at home.
SEVENTY-FIVE MINUTES. You will be damned if you give that up without a fight.
So you hug the smaller child and thrust him into the classroom and don’t stop to chat with the other parent who is skulking around the doors — just GO, buddy, just GO — and you run to your car and drive safely — don’t get arrested, don’t get arrested — home and change your clothes and find that your husband left the music player behind — bless him, although you would rather he’d left the keys in their place — so you can take it with you out into the crisp, autumn sunshine, through the dewy forest across the street from your house, warming up your muscles so that you can run, run, run, for half an hour, till the sweat soaks you and your skin goes that bright red colour that scares people, run, run, run home to a cold shower and a change of clothes again, some cheese and crackers and a bottle of water and back to the preschool — wallet! — where your little one hands you a calendar for the month of October, a huge grin on his face: I have a calendar mommy! My very OWN! I ate all my snack! And I played the marble run and let’s go run in the playground!
You run in the playground. The sun is warm, and it is 11:30, and the other mothers are relaxed, and you are too, and the whole day just turned around.
You see a kitten staring at something across the street. You follow his gaze, try to see what he is looking at. It’s a squirrel, half a block away. You briefly consider the possibility of kittens being hypnotized by mastermind mice; having chips inserted into their kitten brains to make them focused to the point of recklessness.
That is funny.
You take your child to the library and he picks one comic for him and one for his brother, one easy reader for him and one for his brother, and then makes his way, with help, to the P section where he pulls Dav Pilkey’s The Adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog off the shelf and stage-whispers, “My favourite book!”
After lunch, you nap on the couch and your child is quiet, goes upstairs, comes back. When you pull the pillow off your head he looks up from his spot on the floor, completely nonchalant, and says, “Oh I was just doing a maze.” Sure enough, his purple crayon has traced an entire point-a to point-b.
When you pick up your older child from school he is brandishing his first school library book. It’s called “Fairy” and is the story of the bad-ass motorcycle-riding tooth fairy. He beckons a friend over and flips to the page where the fairy waves her wand at some boys and knocks their pants down around their ankles. He and his friend laugh uproariously.
At suppertime,your older child has a handful of candy for dessert. He lines them up: red, orange, red, orange. “It’s an A-B pattern,” he says. “Pardon?” you say. “That’s something we learned about at school,” he says, “you can do it with kids. Boy / Girl / Boy / Girl. I did it with red and orange.” He pops them in his mouth, smiles a sick, candy-stuck grin.
For some reason, all of this is miraculous. This clear sky after a rainstorm, this good sweat on tight skin, this finally cracking neck after weeks of left-right-left-no-not-quite-there. Lungs full of air.
Like one of those cheap, rubber bouncy balls, you hit the ground really hard and now you’re bouncing back up. Watch out for trees. Enjoy the view.