Keeping it Real Monday

Today I put my name in the ballot box of bad motherhood by being a HALF HOUR LATE to pick up Julia from kindergarten.

At 12:38 pm, my young lark of a three year old and I picked up hamburgers at McDonalds and headed to the Honda dealer to get the oil changed and finally, finally have the mofos fix our TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light that wasn't supposed to be on, but was.

When I'd called earlier that morning to schedule an oil change and to tell them we needed to fix the TPMS they'd told me no appointment was necessary, that they'd be able to have me in and out of there no problem. Apparently to turn the light off, all they had to do was "reprogram it." Didn't sound like a lengthy procedure. That and an oil change, we would lend them a small chunk of our afternoon before it was time to pick up sister at school.

Anyhoo, in line at Micky D's I chatted briefly with my husband and he said, "Are you sure you're going to get out of there with enough time to be able to pick up Jooge?"

I was all, "Of course!" thinking that surely, by the time it was time to pick Jooge up at kindergarten at 2:20 we would be out of there.

Avery and I get comfortable in the waiting room. It's one o'clock. We eat hamburgers, we read a stack of books from the library. The nice lady next to us thinks Avery is adorable and "SO GOOD." We use the bathroom and at 2:00I go out and inform the guy that I need to pick up my kid in twenty minutes. (AND WHY THE HECK IS MY CAR STILL UP ON THE THING?) There is a guy who goes to check, comes back and tells me, "We'll get you out of here really soon, he's just initializing the TPMS."

I try to get the number to the school, which I haven't programmed into my cell phone yet. The guy at the front desk tries to help me look it up online and types it in but spells Elementary Elementry. I suggest the correct spelling but that still doesn't work. I suggest going to the school district web page and he puts it in WWW.HILLSBROSCHOOLDISTRICT.COM (spelling Hillsboro HillsBRO) and he just can't pull his head out of his *bleep* so then I try to call my husband. He's unreachable. I use the forbidden and expensive 411 to get the school's number. I remember it in my head, dial it, tell the secretary to give dear sweet Mrs. S. a message that I am waiting for my oil change to get over but that I will be there soon.

The man who finally helps me check out says that to fix the TPMS they must deflate ALL FOUR TIRES COMPLETELY and then refill them with air and then test the pressure before they intialize the TPMS.

Apparently when the service dude said, "We'll get you right out of here soon," he meant, in another half hour. It is 2:38 when I hit the first of ten red lights between there and school. It's really a delight when I get behind a pick-up going 20 in a 40 zone. I narrowly miss having to pull over for an emergency vehicle as I take a swift left onto the last street before her school's.

I distinctly try to be easy on myself. I try not to freak. I tell myself that there is nothing more I can do, that indeed I had been wrong to think I could get the appointment done in the time I had, but even now, being wrong about that was over. My husband told me so. Later he might tell me so again but I can do nothing but breathe and drive. And suddenly, we're there.

Avery has removed her shoes in the back seat. Of course! She always does this in the car. I grab her shoeless body and rush into the school. It is 2:50.

I am near tears in the hallway, and upon entering the room deliver a shaky apology. Julia is helping clean up and looking pleased. Her teacher is beyond kind and understanding. I'm excused because of who I am, the one who's never late, the one who helps her kid get her homework done, the mom who remembers library day. I am who I am but I'm also human and we are two humans here, the center of our cookie the smile of a precious five-year-old. Mrs. S. says, "Julia's so quiet in class, but I am learning she has a whole other side to her, she's just been telling me all sorts of things!" Now with the silver lining. Jooge has gotten to bond one on one with her teacher.

And you know, it's karma. I did the same thing for more than a handful of students (and parents!) back in the day when I was teaching. I remember not caring, how quickly the time right after school passed, how nice it was to have someone to interact with as I picked up crayons and adjusted desks, how nice it was to connect with that parent who arrived breathless and apologetic, who was usually on time but in and out. Good came of our lateness in that we connected too with Mrs. S. in a way we wouldn't have ordinarily.

I won't go stuffing the ballot box with this faux pas, but will never schedule any car maintenance during school again.


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