This was written almost two years ago. I had just started writing, but I had no idea what I would write about or where I would go with it. It was before blogging and the book, if there is such a time. Yet, it expresses much of how I feel now, two years and one more child later.
The kids slept late. Zachary only had a level four temper tantrum upon waking, and he did not wet his pants during breakfast. Benjamin’s poopy diaper came before breakfast, so it was all changed and clean before we even sat down. We were in a bit of a rush after breakfast because Zachary also needed to poop, which requires literature, and then his teeth needed to be brushed, but because it was raining, we at least did not have sunblock to slow us down. Pinning down Benjamin was a bit more challenging than usual, but both kids were dressed and ready to go three minutes before 9:00.
Then it happened. Zachary was already in the stroller, and I had even smeared him with some sunblock (the sun made a last-minute appearance). I went to put on Benjamin’s jacket and smelled it. He had performed twice in one morning. It was an encore.
I tossed the baby over my shoulder, told Zachary I would only be a minute, leapt up the stairs, and dealt with the ramifications of yesterday’s blueberries. We made it out the door by 9:03, still plenty of time to make it to school.
And so, as I walked along at a brisk pace, I was pretty darned proud of myself. When we stopped to wait for a crossing, I made sure to mention to Zach how proud I was of his cooperation this morning. He smiled, I smiled, even the now-clean baby smiled. We crossed. Life was good.
Through this all – the poop and the breakfast and the tussle over blue jeans – I was 75% with my kids. 25% of me was writing in my head. But that was fine, because I remembered to close the gate at the top of the stairs, and we were still going to be on time for school. I had even remembered a little box for whatever Zach made in cookery.
When I went to hand the box to the teaching assistant, she told me they were having a picnic instead today. Panic set in. Last term, a class party had meant I needed to bring in apples. Was there some culinary contribution I had neglected? I wracked my brain, trying to remember if I had signed up to bring in paper plates or juice boxes. Needless to say, I am not reckless enough to sign up for something like sandwiches.
It turns out that what I had forgotten was a teddy bear. Crud. That’s right. Today was the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. It turns out that the 25% of me that was writing in my head was the 25% in charge of remembering teddy bears.
As I looked around, I finally noticed that all the other children were proudly marching in, stuffed animals in hand. On a little table at the front, a display of teddy bears had already been started. Zachary had not noticed yet, because he was thrilled to see no one was playing with the pizza in the plastic kitchen. For once, it was all his. Maybe there was still time.
On the way out, I asked the teacher what time they would need the missing furry friend. 10:45. OK, I thought. So, if Ben took his nap in the stroller, I could get home, grab an animal, race back, and still get him to swimming. Or, he could nap at home, and we could skip swimming to deliver the stupid teddy bear.
I pause for a moment here to mention that, just as Miss Georgina and I were having this conversation, Sebastian walked in with a teddy bear that was only slightly larger than he was. Sebastian has a very good mother. You should have seen the hat she made for the Easter bonnet parade.
It turns out Miss Georgina had a spare bear for just such emergencies. Translation: she brought in an extra bear in case the stupid American mother forgot that today was the teddy bear’s picnic throughout the UK to raise money for charity. She’s a good teacher.
Still, I thought, maybe I need to bring in one of his bears. He is not particularly attached to any specific animal, but what kind of a slacker mother forgets the Teddy Bears’ Picnic? Actually, it turns out the other American mother forgot, too. Perhaps it is some kind of national deficiency.
The whole walk home I thought about it. If I race around getting everything ready during Ben’s morning nap, I can throw him in the stroller upon waking, get the bear to Zach, and make the end of swimming. I CAN DO IT!
Suddenly, there it was. The end of naptime. And 95% of me spent the 45 minutes writing.
The other 5% was running madly down the street, teddy bear in hand.