When school starts in one week, I will have four kids in four different schools in two cities.
Four. Kids. Four. Different. Schools. Two. Cities.
It fills me with dread. Not one of those kids is capable of transporting themselves reliably all the time (Trout can walk sometimes, if she's ready early enough, if she has someone to walk with, if she's paying enough attention, if if if). I'm really not sure how, exactly, we're going to do this. More particularly, how I'm going to do it.
I expected to have them at three different schools. Trout starts middle school this year (!), Little Man and Sunny are both still in elementary school, and Nemo has one more year of preschool. Middle school starts about an hour earlier than the elementary school, so getting Trout there on time is manageable. Little Man was supposed to be a patrol this year, and he and Sunny would be good to walk to their bus stop together. When he manages to get up in the morning, BigDaddyFish drops Nemo off at his preschool on the way to work. When he can't manage, it's tight, but doable, for me to drop the ES kids at their bus stop then hightail it down to the next city to drop Nemo off. It's what we did last year and we managed.
But Little Man will be attending a magnet program for gifted and talented students in a different elementary school on the other side of our town. He will get a bus. Which picks up at our home elementary school, at the same time the other bus picks up in our neighborhood to take Sunny to the school.
How we got to this point is convoluted, and I'm uncertain how much I should reveal in this space. This situation was largely driven by someone else. Ultimately we decided that it was too good an opportunity for Little Man for us to pass up, no matter how challenging it's going to be for us logistically.
And challenging it will be. Fortunately another neighborhood mom has a challenge of her own, so right now the plan is that she will drive the big girls down to the middle school, and then she will pick up Sunny when she walks her younger daughter down to the bus stop for the local school while I drive Little Man down to get his bus at the school. I will do afternoon pickup if the kids decide they don't want to walk home from either the middle school or the bus stop, because Little Man's bus will come back so late in the afternoon that I won't have a conflict.
The afternoon will be a full stagger, with the middle schoolers getting out at 2:40, the second grader getting off the bus about 3:15, and the fourth grader getting off his bus at the elementary school about 3:45. Add to this picking up the preschooler at 1 three days a week in the next town over, and you'll understand why "Empty van of everything, hit the car wash and readjust all car seats before reinstalling" is on my to-do list this week.
Anyone want to wager who is going to get forgotten first? Or how many "Your child has been tardy XX days this month, equalling XX% of school days. Proper attendance at school is vital to your child's success at school" blah blah blah letters I'll receive?
I had always thought the first time was Phillip.
Phillip was a Marine and stunning. He was in my Biology for Non-Science Majors lecture section during sophmore year of college. He sat front and center in a lecture hall of 100 people, focused on his coursework and not on all the people around him. Every single female in the place, though, was focused on him. One hot day he changed his shirt right there in front of the class and the intake of breath from all women there was audible enough that several guys looked around to try to figure out what the heck the sound was.
Since my home life at that point in time was horrid at best, and my boyfriend at the time was at another school, I spent every waking minute I wasn't working or sleeping trying to find something to do with myself, so I started to hang out in the school library. Some nights I was all to myself and I would study until I couldn't study anymore, then I'd read. Other nights I was able to find a classmate to study with, which usually devolved to socializing at some point.
One night, Phillip was there and had spread out on one of the few large tables in the place. There weren't any other places around, so I screwed up my courage and asked if I could join him. Turns out, he was gorgeous AND a nice guy. We started studying together a couple of nights a week.
A few weeks after we'd started studying together, he caught up with me outside of our lecture hall, and asked me to get a cup of coffee with him.
"No, I don't drink coffee."
Palm, meet forehead.
The supremely stupidly doofusy thing about it is that at the time I HAD NO IDEA that coffee wasn't really the point of that invitation. I guess since I wouldn't have dreamed of cheating on my boyfriend it never even crossed my mind that someone else would invite me to do so. It's unfortunate, in a way, considering that at the time my boyfriend was busy sleeping with the music department at his school. Damned integrity.
It took me YEARS to figure out Phillip was asking me out. Clueless.
A couple of years later I took a night class, and there was a guy who was Tom Cruise's doppelganger (before the crazy, of course). He was nice and we discovered we were both NASCAR fans when I wrote a paper about meeting Mark Martin and we had to read our papers out loud to the class. I didn't want to walk home so late at night, so my roommate would drive my car over to pick me up after class. Since this was in the days before cell phones, I'd call her from a pay phone after class got out and then wait for her.
Tom had a motorcycle, and every night after class he'd stand around outside where I waited for my roommate, because he had to wait for the bike to warm up before he'd go home. At least, that's what he told me. We talked and became good friends. I found out months later that he'd planned to ask me out the last night of class, but I missed it because my boyfriend's mother (the same cheating boyfriend) was in the hospital and I turned in my final paper early and skipped class to come home to see her. (I also found out about the cheating the following week, but that's another story for another time) Months later after I'd ditched the cheater, Tom and I saw each other on campus, he told me about his plan, and we did end up dating for a while.
Years later I was talking to my husband about this and he said "You know he didn't need to wait for his bike to warm up that much, don't you?" Um, well, now that you mention it, it makes sense...
Several years after Tom, after I was married, a co-worker asked me to go to the movies, during the day, when we were supposed to be working. I was busy at work and told him I had to finish up my project, but maybe some other time. When I related this to my husband that evening, he looked at me as though I'd grown two heads, though honestly at that point he shouldn't have been surprised.
"You do know he wasn't really asking you to the movies, right?"
It's happened many other times over the years, and I've almost gotten to the point where I can figure out when I'm being propositioned when it happens. Almost.
This has been on my mind because recently, a friend posted on facebook about her kids looking at her old yearbooks, which in turn caused me to dig mine out and look at them. And of course, in several places, there is written evidence of my own cluelessness. Apparently subtlety is lost on me. Completely. It's honestly a wonder I ever dated anyone. My husband favored a rather direct approach, which is a good thing, or we might not even be here with 4 kids and a dog and a mortgage and a minivan and this blog. God help me if anything ever happens to him and I have try dating again.
So the lesson? If you're going to make a pass at me and you want me to notice? You'd better spell it out specifically. Perhaps with a billboard.
Last week we were walking the dog, the two littles and I, while Little Man rode his bike a bit ahead of us. Nemo was still in patch time, which he has for 3.5 hours a day now. We live in a neighborhood that is a series of rings with townhouses only on the outside of the rings, with wooded islands in the middle. We like to walk the dog on the other side of the street, on the edge of the woods, so that he doesn't go to the bathroom in anyone's yard, but the drawback is that there are no sidewalks on that side. Fortunately the neighborhood is fairly quiet, and this isn't a problem. There are always a lot of people walking (we aren't the only ones walking our dog in the woods) and kids playing in the street and the people that frequent the neighborhood know this and drive accordingly.
Usually it's delivery trucks that give us trouble. There's a UPS driver that got reamed out by the kids' school bus driver once because he was driving too fast and recklessly. Our regular FedEx drivers have gotten used to the neighborhood, and most other drivers, once they come here once or twice, learn and drive slowly.
So we were walking the dog, and as we walked around the island directly across from our row of townhouses a van for a dry cleaning service drove by too fast coming into the neighborhood. We yelled a bit and generally commented that they were driving too fast for this neighborhood with kids and dogs and bikes and such all around, and we continued on our walk.
As we walked, Nemo kept running ahead, picking up sticks and rocks and other types of detritus that little boys like. There's only one way into and out of our neighborhood, through a stopsign with a speedbump next to it which does nothing to stop people from running it. We were a couple of houses away from the stop sign, on the wooded side while Pete sniffed around the fire hydrant.
The delivery van that had been driving too fast coming in to the neighborhood probably wasn't going to stop for the stopsign, but we were standing there staring at him and that probably saved Nemo's life. Because not two seconds later he decided to bolt across the street back to the sidewalk, right in front of the delivery van that was accelerating from the stop sign.
I screamed Nemo's name and the van's windows were open and they stopped about a foot in front of Nemo; I don't think they had any idea Nemo was in front of them, because he's only four and too short for them to see him. He looked up at the van in terror and dashed to the sidewalk on the other side as the van veeeeeery slooooowly went on its way. Little Man, who was ahead of us, told me that he heard them saying "What the hell just happened?!" as they drove past him.
I crossed after the van, got in Nemo's face and shouted "Nemo! You were almost killed! You NEVER cross the street without Mommy or Daddy!" and I burst into tears and he burst into tears and I picked him up and hugged him and carried him a ways, like I did when he was a toddler. I reminded him again and again that Mommy and Daddy have always told him this, and that was nearly a very very bad situation.
My hands shook for probably a hour or so after we got home. Later that afternoon, Nemo came to me and said "Mama? That was a BIG truck in front of me." I pulled him up into my lap and said, "Yes, bug, it was." He put his head on my shoulder for a bit. "Mama? I only cross with you or Daddy," he said softly.
I hope he learned his lesson. I've got a bum ticker and it can't take much of that kind of neighborhood excitement.