Monday, February 7, 2011

If You're Not 10 Minutes Early, You Might Still Make It


As a teenager, I remember my dad dropping me off at a church activity five minutes early. The church was mostly dark. We sat in the parking lot and waited for someone else to arrive. I was bugged that my dad had been on my case to hurry so that we could be 10 minutes early. (Obviously, I compromised.) He adhered to the school of thought, "If you aren't 10 minutes early, you're late." Much to his chagrin, I had bought into the philosophy, "If you get there five minutes late, other people will be there and you won't have to stand around waiting--or looking like a dork."

My philosophy has mellowed in the past several years. My current philosophy is "Do your best to get there before the bell rings OR the opening prayer OR the lights are dimmed, but if all else fails--Just get there!" Occasionally I am early, but it isn't on purpose.

I am the mother of six children. As such, I track several different schedules on any given day. Those include (but are not entirely limited to) four different school schedules, piano lessons, gymnastics, naps and Scouts as well as two different carpools. Compound that with a baby and a toddler in need of diaper changes and naps, and you might appreciate that my "On Time" card has more tallies than my "Late" card.

I am the newest member of one of the carpools. At the beginning of January I moved my daughter from the local elementary school to a nearby charter school. Shortly thereafter I was invited to join a carpool with a few of my neighbors (who I know) and a family in another neighborhood (who I do not know). The carpool would include eight children from five families. I would drive on Monday.

The arrangement seemed straightforward enough. My 9-year old would still be home with my little diaper changees while I drove the carpool TO school, and my 11-year old would be home with them by the time I left to pick them up AFTER school. I quickly signed the deal.

TODAY as I think back to that original conversation regarding said carpool, I have a hazy recollection of an over-the-shoulder warning that may have involved the words uptight, punctual, time, and Nazi--but like I said, it's hazy.

Fast forward a few weeks.

Today is Monday. That means it is MY day to drive carpool. I have delivered my newspapers, exercised for an hour, and showered--when the two diaper changees wake up at 7:40. School starts at 8:15. Diapers are changed by 7:44. I could leave right then, but I still have 31 minutes before school starts. The school is a mile and a half away, and it takes all of 12 minutes to gather the carpool and get there. My baby hasn't eaten for several hours and will be S-A-D if I leave without feeding her. No problem. I've still got time. I decide to feed her. Then I go pick up carpool, and deliver them to the school with at least a full minute to spare. All's well that ends well, right? Too bad it didn't end there...

Perhaps an hour later, my phone rang. I answered it. One of the sweetest women you will ever meet was on the other end. She began something like this: "This is going to be kind of an awkward conversation..."

Hmmm. That can't be good. [Note to self: When a conversation begins with the words "going to be an awkward conversation," cut the cord, pull the plug, scream and hang up, whatever--just know that you aren't about to receive a warm fuzzy.]

The gist of the "awkward conversation" was that I was somewhat tardy this morning, and SOMEBODY (who shall remain nameless because I can't remember how to pronounce her name, let alone spell it) experienced a little anxiety because of it. The funny thing is that I already knew of her anxiety because it was written all over her daughters' faces when they entered my van this morning. They had very obviously received the tongue lashing that was probably intended for me. [On the bright side, they were probably that much more eager to get to school, right?] After I picked up her girls, she got on the horn to our sweet mutual friend and inquired, "Who is going to call and talk to HER?!" Meaning ME. Poor messenger.

Well, things happen. I could call "FOUL" on the grounds that having four other children at home at desired point of departure makes a clean getaway nearly impossible... while SOME PEOPLE (still nameless) have none. I COULD... but I won't.

I won't apologize either. All eight children made it to class "on time" (read: BEFORE the bell). As illustrated by my experience with my dad, that definition is subjective. I told the messenger that I will TRY to do better, and I will. Meanwhile maybe I could prescribe a little Zumba for SOMEONE who might need a little loosening up. Maybe.

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