Everyone in the house knows the drill: at 8:06 a.m. Monday through Friday, we exit the house, I lock the door, we pile in the Malibu, and I back out of the driveway. By 8:13, we arrive at the junior high, where John hops out. By 8:24 a.m., we arrive at the elementary school, where I park and the rest of us get out. School starts at 8:30 a.m. We are all where we are supposed to be on time every single day.
We've got the timing down to a science. Everyone is reminded at precisely 8:00 a.m. to brush their teeth, put their shoes and coats on, and meet me at the front door in six minutes. It has been this way ever since John started junior high the September before last. Becky has been abiding by this since she started kindergarten. My goodness, even slow-as-molasses, daydreaming Allison understands. Even the dog gets it, positioning herself out the bottom of the stairs in anticipation of the upcoming treat when she hears the 8 a.m. reminder.
So tell me what could possibly explain our being so late on Thursday? The kids know any emergencies -- of the stalling, false nature or of the true variety -- are to be dealt with before 8 a.m. I am adamant about that with them. They don't like to face my wrath if they pull something after 8 a.m.
At 8:01, there's John frantically trying to find his take home test. He swears he had put it in his backpack. He has no explanation as to how it could have gotten out, although he casts a wide net of suspicion toward Becky and Allison. We eat up three minutes finding it, under a pile of second grade papers I was grading.
At 8:04, Allison's shoelaces snap. Note the plural. Both snap. I snap at her to put another pair of shoes on, but she has P.E. Thursdays and can't wear anything but sneakers or else she's benched. Even I know how heart-breaking it would be to her to be benched. So 2.5 minutes are spent getting new shoelaces and enlisting John to carry her to the car and put the shoelaces in her shoes once they are both seated there.
At 8:07, Becky trips over the damn dog, crashing into the hallway coat rack, and running cheek first into one of the hooks. I run back upstairs for tissues and a bandage, shouting words of encouragement while murmuring resentful words under my breath. Great. Just great.
At 8:09, Becky is cleaned up and out the door, and I grab my case. Locking the door I hear the sound of retching. The dog is sick. Again. Do I leave it, coming home to tracked-through dog vomit that's permeated for seven hours? It's tempting. But I don't give into the temptation to try to make up the time.
At 8:15, we finally exit the driveway, knowing John is already late for school and that the girls and I will be late as well. I am frustrated beyond belief, and I'm annoyed at the whole lot of them.
At 8:17 a.m., we come upon the accident. It looks horrific. The ambulances and fire department and police have just arrived. It looks like a massive Black Oak tree had tumbled down less than 10 minutes before, taking out three cars, filled with mothers shuttling their junior high students to school. We know those mothers. We know those kids.
[This is fiction. Now, go see the other Sunday Scribblings posts on "late."]