Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Day

6:20 a.m.: Trey's first attempt to roll me out of bed, per my request, is ignored.
6:50: Six subsequent attempts, at five-minute intervals, become increasingly annoying as I desperately wish for an Invisibility Cloak.
6:55: My human alarm clock is now caffeinated and clearly on a mission from Satan. Sigh. I am awake.
7:15: Now that I'm showered (my version of coffee), I try to gently nudge our darling boy from dreamland.
7:30: No doubt about it: he is my child. He harumphs and rolls over despite my murmured pleas.
7:40: S and K are up, so we send them in to wake their brother; they never take no for an answer.
7:45: Mission accomplished, although we are probably running late. Quick eye check: no goop. No detectable angst, either. All systems go!

8:00: French toast, yogurt and fresh fruit are served. French toast is pushed 'round the plates, although the accompanying syrup is instantly consumed. Yogurt is flung. The freshness of the fruit is called into question. Exhortations to eat, eat, please eat, are issued. Our wee Zagat team merely laughs. We are definitely running late.
8:15: We should be leaving the house right now, but we are, in fact, running late. Syrupy pajamas are stripped from gleefully uncooperative muppers. Grown-ups bicker about clothing combinations as I realize with a shock that I neglected to buy first-day-of-school clothes. What kind of mother... ? Answer: the kind of mother who still has a towel wrapped around her wet hair and no makeup on. I stop bickering and leave Trey with a pile of clean clothes and three naked children.
8:30: My hair now dry, I check the progress in Carter's room. The words fly out of my mouth before I can stop them: "You're not going to dress her in that, are you?" Trey's answer is nonverbal. We both look at the clock for confirmation that we are running late.

8:38: S and K are loaded into the Mommywagon; Carter has the coveted seat in Daddy's car. We're running. (Late.)
8:39: I put the car in autopilot behind Trey and attempt to apply makeup without swerving into other lanes. I succeed at the latter, but flunk at the former. I check the rearview mirror and see that Katie is mimicking me: patting her face, smoothing her hair.
8:45: WE ARE LATE! I feel terrible.
8:58: We park in front of Westwood. (No time for the exclamation point.) Unbuckle the brood and fling ourselves toward the door. I know Carter's a little nervous, but I ask him to show Daddy his classroom, and he leads the way.
9:00: The good thing about being late, I decide, is that most of the crying children have been soothed, and most of the parents have cleared the halls. Mrs. True is holding one child who's still a little teary, but she greets Carter and tells us hello. The five of us stand just inside the door of the classroom for one second. In that second, I hold my breath and think that if I let myself, I could cry, too... but then Mrs. True takes Carter by the hand and leads him into the fray of his fellow students. He briefly looks over his shoulder at us with a sort of stoic look on his face. Before I can process it, we're back out in the hall again. A hundred emotions rush over me just as S and K realize that they're not invited to play in the nice big room with unimaginably cool big-kid things. They're not happy about this plot twist. We evacuate.

9:10: The four of us exchange kisses in the parking lot, and Trey heads to work. I decide to drive to the Galleria. It's only a mile away, so I can zip back to school if needed, and the kids had fun there yesterday.
9:25: The closest I've come to exercising all week: I buckle S and K into their stroller and push them around all three floors of the mall until the stores open.
10:00: S and K seem happy, so I push my luck and attempt a little shopping. Maybe some second-day-of-school clothes?
10:30: No go. Every time I roll into a store, before the salutation has even left the salesperson's lips, Katie shakes her head and says, "No. No no no." At first I think she's just being dismissive of the selection at Baby Gap, but it's the same routine in each doorway.
10:40: We have reached the bright and boisterous play area. I quickly unfasten buckles and shoes and they dash to their favorite spots. (K guards the large vinyl snake; S scales the vinyl mountain.) I call home to see if there's a come-get-your-son call from Westwood, but all's clear.
10:45: "NO!" Katie is yelling at a little boy who has attempted to climb onto the large vinyl snake. His mother is unamused. I intervene and help make room for the little boy while sing-songing to Katie about the value of sharing with our friends, blah blah blah. Secretly, I'm glad to hear her defend her space, as I've been willing her to stand up to her brothers when they snatch things from her, but don't know how to explain the complexities of when that's appropriate. I loathe playground politics; I never know what to say or do, whether my child is the aggressor or the aggressee.
10:50: With a wink and a smile in my direction, Spencer sprints for the exit. The eyes in the back of my head keep watch over his sister while I lay chase. I capture him, giggling and squirming, and plant him in a fun new spot in the play area, but we both know that the clock is now ticking.
11:05: More exercise as I repeatedly race after Spencer. The jig is up and Katie knows it: she's climbed back into the stroller and is attempting to buckle herself. Howls of protest when I assist.
11:10: Scan the dining options: what's very quick and marginally healthy? Which 'Wich it is.
11:15: K digs into her half of a seriously goopy Monte Cristo. I look like a genius for feeding my child a sandwich dripping grape jelly and smothered in powdered sugar while she sits in her stroller. (Where the heck are the high chairs around here?) S pushes his sandwich away and looks longingly at my roast beef and avocado creation. Eh, I wasn't that hungry anyway.
11:35 is what my cell phone says. How can this be? I hastily clear our trash and race for the door. No way can I be late coming and going this early in the semester. Week three, maybe.
11:58: I run panting into the building with one mupper under each arm. We see a friend and briefly say hello, then tear down the hallway, which has gotten longer since Monday.
Noon: Here's my big boy, and he's HAPPY! Mrs. True says he had a good day and worked very hard. I nod and smile gratefully, and we briefly discuss the week's schedule.

12:03: While S and K scramble like ants around the hallway, I give Carter a bear hug and pull him into my lap to ask him about his day. He doesn't offer too many details, but the general message seems to be that All is Well. Down the hall, we see Jen retrieve Ben from his first-ever school day. What a champ he's been! And a cutie, too.
12:05: I say a quick hello to Jen as I spot Katie in the entryway, about to yank the American flag off its pedestal. Oops! My head swivels: no sign of Spencer anywhere. Oh, no...
12:10: The receptionist is grinning: S is crouched under a desk with my cell phone pressed to his ear. He's been making calls to China and flirting shamelessly.
12:15: We have made no progress toward actually leaving the building. Suddenly Carter spots Sam and launches into a full-scale impersonation of a howler monkey. Sam keeps her cool... and, wisely, her distance. He's over the moon for Sam and I know this little display is for her benefit, but it is pretty obnoxious. I want to tell him to play it cool, man, but it seems inappropriate to offer courtship advice to my three-year-old.

12:20: Children hanging off of every appendage, I shuffle to the car and load them in. Carter buckles himself, I buckle Spencer and I'm just starting to buckle Katie when the shoulder strap pops out of the seat.
12:21: I stare dumbly at the webbed strap dangling in my hand. A quick investigation confirms that the seat will need to be removed for the strap to be replaced. I'm ashamed to admit that, in nearly four years, I have never learned how to do this. Carter's saying, "I'm hungry! What's for lunch?" as I reach for the cell phone.
12:23: No answer at Trey's desk. I reach voice mail on his cell phone, too. Second try's the charm; I break the bad news.
12:25: Superman is on his way.
12:40: I sing songs, play peek-a-boo and take pictures of squirmy muppers from the front seat. The car erupts with joy when Daddy is spotted.
12:45: The belt is fixed. I am overcome with gratitude. He high-fives the little ones, gives me a kiss and hops back into his car. We drive in adjacent lanes all the way to his building, which is just around the corner from Westwood. I keep the windows down so he can make funny faces at us. The kids are delighted and so am I.
1:20: After the standard slow-poke drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A, where Carter is armed with a car picnic of chicken nuggets and fruit, we pull into the driveway. "Ome!" Katie squeals.
1:30: Diapers are changed, lights are dimmed and hopes are high in the nursery that these two will settle down and get a good nap.
1:35: Carter polishes off what's left of lunch as we small-talk. I'm pleasantly surprised at how calm and happy he seems. Normally, he's extra raucous and rambunctious after school, but his howler-monkey act now seems a distant memory as he insists that he carry his Chick-Fil-A box and napkin to the trashcan by himself, thank you.
1:45: No book before nap today: Carter's choice. I tuck him in and give him a kiss.
2:00: I briefly check snail mail and e-mail. It would be so easy to squander this whole naptime sitting in front of the computer, but I'm exhausted.
2:05: I shuffle a few loads of laundry, listen for sounds from Carter's room and hit the sack. Ahhh...
2:25: The phone rings. Drat! It's USAA with a message for Trey: the value of his golf clubs, recently thieved from the trunk of his car, falls just below our homeowners policy deductible. Double, triple, quadruple drat. He's going to be crushed.
2:30: Carter wanders in; naptime's over. I enlist his help with the laundry and pledge to return the favor by helping him build a track on his train table.
4:00: They might be a little grumpy, but S and K got a great nap. In short order, they're happily racing around the house with their big brother.
6ish: DADDY'S HOME! Happiness reigns, until he dares to request a moment of privacy. Spencer is distraught and hugs the bathroom door, wailing.

7ish: Turkey tacos for dinner, followed by mango, followed by bath. We're actually on track for a good bedtime tonight.
8:30: Somewhere along the way, we have lost control. The kids are clean and PJed, but spinning like tops around the front room. I finally put an end to the frivolity and order everyone into the nursery.
8:40: Lights out for S and K.
8:42: Carter requests THREE books tonight. I think I'm so clever by reading the second one with my slowed-down, just-above-a-whisper sleep-inducing voice. He isn't fooled, of course; when we decline the third book, he grabs it and runs to his Anywhere Chair. Before we can argue with him, he's flipping through the pages and reading it to himself. We concede.
9:00: Lights out for Carter. It's been a good day. No guarantees that tomorrow will go as smoothly, of course... but right now, it's a happy house.

Hoping that yours is, too... love, F5

P.S. This morning, Trey pointed out that Carter's reading list, as I partially described yesterday, is fairly eclectic. (We'd like to note that he started to read Camus, but quickly grew bored.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

F5, I love your family blog! Reading it is rapidly becoming the highlight of my ME time. In between all the chuckles, I am constantly letting out sighs of relief -- "Thank God, it's not just me".
I'm glad Carter had a good 1st day. I'm preparing for our transistion to the new Preschool Room next Tuesday -- I hope it goes as well.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Sugar Photography said...

it took me two tries to have enough peace and quiet to read this in it's entirety...oh, but it was so worth it!

cracking up over carter's oh so subtle techniques to capture Sam's attention (and therefore her heart).

don't hate me-I'm sending this entry to dallas child for their 'day in the life of a dallas mom' column. it's perfection!

8:18 PM  

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