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Even when your heart stops, the clock keeps ticking

“How much longer?!” My 7 year-old whines, even though we’ve only just arrived.

I check the car clock. 5:17pm. “Any minute now,” I say, watching a smattering of kids emerge from the Middle School gym doors.

We are right on time, actually ahead of schedule since I usually receive my 12 year-old’s ‘pick me up’ call at around 5:20pm. Tonight is one of those nights where the clock is ticking harder and faster than Marisa Tomei’s from My Cousin Vinny, although unless you’re over 40 you probably won’t know anything about that.

Basically, I need to pick up my 9 year-old from Hebrew School by 6pm, drop the 12 year-old off, and then shoot over to the 9 year-old’s basketball game from 6:30-7:30pm. Then the 12 year-old gets picked up at 8:10pm and goes straight to his basketball game from 8:30-930pm, but by then my husband has taken over and I’m home with the younger ones running in different circles.

“This is taking forever!” My little one grumbles. I don’t begrudge him. As the youngest, he’s a semi-hostile member of Team Mommy, we who schlep and spectate.

5:24pm.

Where is he? Usually he’s out by now. I had hoped to let them eat at Smashburger, but now it’ll probably be a car picnic in the Temple parking lot. Annoying. I send him a quick text. “Outside waiting.”

5:26pm.

The girls basketball and boys wrestling teams also let out and there is a steady stream of sweaty young teens. I squint to see if there’s anyone I know, but it is dusk and all I can make out is that they are all dressed inappropriately for winter.

5:27pm.

An uncomfortable thought creeps into my head. Typically, between finishing classes at 3:10pm and heading to the gym, he sends me a quick text “Going to volleyball”, but today he didn’t check in.

5:28pm.

“I’m soooo hungry!” My 7 year-old complains over and over but it folds into my rising anxiety.

5:29pm.

A few familiar looking boys come out. I open my window to ask if they’ve seen my son, but they are engaged with each other and I am embarrassed to interrupt and embarrass my son by being the crazy mom which I am totally being.

5:30pm.

He’s barely even late, I scold myself. What is wrong with my brain?!

5:31pm.

It is growing dark. The parking lot slows to an unsettling quiet. Kids still fill the gym anteroom waiting for their rides but the heavy doors swing open on slower intervals, like when you put the window washers on low.

5:32pm.

Why didn’t he text earlier? Why hasn’t he texted now? I call but it goes to his voicemail, which isn’t even set up. I call again. And again.

5:33pm.

My neck strains to see inside the school. My hand grips the door handle ready to jump out. Where? Where?

5:34pm.

There. Right there. Smile sweet as melted sugar and posture relaxed as a lazy bear, he saunters over. Of course. I breathe. Of course.

“Finally!” My youngest huffs, “I’m soo hungry!”

“Sorry, mama,” he says, throwing himself and his over-sized backpack into the car. “Practice ran a little late and then I forgot my book.”

5:35pm.

I tousle his hair and warmly chastise him about not checking in as I simultaneously throw the car in gear and set off to Smashburger, the pickups, drop offs and all the rest, more keenly aware than ever that every minute counts.

 

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Follow the Bouncing Balls

Follow the Bouncing Balls

“Mommy! Get that ball!” My five-year old calls out as I’m walking out the door, holding a coffee in one hand, a water bottle under my arm, my 40 pound pocketbook over my shoulder, two camp knapsacks over the other arm, and a bag of dirty clothes for the dry cleaner.

A wrapped granola bar for my oldest dangles from my mouth. “Oh yeah,” I mutter, through gritted teeth. “Let me get that for you.”

“What?” He jumps in front of me. “What?”

“Get the ball, mommy!” My 11 year-old calls out, leaning on his wiffle bat.

I’m struggling with the keys, trying to press the button that automatically opens my mini-van door and not drop my coffee, or I’d freak on them.

“Mommy? Can you get the ball?” He asks again. Seriously, does he not have eyes? Or legs?

Only my 8 year-old has the ability to see outside of himself.

“Can I help you? He asks. “I can take my bag.”

I try to smile with my eyes, the only unencumbered part of my body, but I keep moving. Any disruption would cause everything to drop faster than a pair of old boobs on new twins.

I make it to the car and dump everything onto the seat, except my coffee, which I gently place in its holder.

Whew. 8am and I’m already done, but of course, it’s just beginning. I need to drive the oldest to baseball camp, the middle to day camp and the youngest…  Damn, the youngest has no camp.

“Mommy! You didn’t get the ball!” My 5 year-old accuses, which I ignore.

“Get in the car, please.”

They pile in and once settled, I run to retrieve the wiffle ball and toss it on the lawn. We’re ready.

First stop! Camp for Boy 1 in next town.

Second stop! Camp for Boy 2 in town next to next town.

Then me and Boy 3 drop the dry cleaning, stop at the supermarket and head home to play legos,haveacatch,drawpictures,watchshowwhileidoelliptical&eatlunch.

Pick-up time!

First stop! Boy 1.

Second stop! Boy 2.

Third stop. Train station in totally different town to pick up daddy.

We get there in about 20 minutes, but have almost an hour before the train. My middle has a game tonight so he changes into his uniform in the back while they eat the snacks I packed and watch episodes of the Brady Bunch on the minivan TV. All hail the minivan TV.

This is our down time. Hope you’re enjoying it. Want a cheese stick?

Once husband/coach is in the car, we head straight for the field.

Throw. Catch. Pitch. Strike. Run. We win. Yay! Or, we lose. Boo!

Either way, we head home.

Once inside, I collect their dirty clothes and send their dirty bodies to the shower.

“Look, Mama,” My 5 year-old says over and over, and every time I do, he’s in a different naked position displaying himself.

Balls. Balls. Balls.

I hear my husband click on the TV, and the room fills with baseball.

No way he’s going to score tonight.

Catching zzzz's

Catching Z’s