Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Pictures? Really?

Posted on | August 24, 2015 | 3 Comments

I was going to make a post about how I am still alive.  Because people have been asking.  But the kids were out of school, which meant I spent my time alternating between dragging kids off their laptops, iPads, and Kindles and forcing them outside and driving them to their jobs, activities, and friends’ houses.  Whenever I put my foot down and demanded a day of “rest” (meaning a day spent working in the barn or garden), the punks would call up their friends, shamelessly invite themselves over, and trick some other poor parent into picking them up.  I’m not exactly sure if that skill translates into politics or pharmaceutical sales in their future, but it was alarming.

Occasionally a child would be carried off to my parents’ house to “help out” (meaning short bursts of chore-like activity interspersed with lunch and shopping) which meant we were at least down a player or two.  And Little often disappeared on sleepovers that lasted 2 or 3 days.  I’m sure the parents wondered why I never called to see when he was coming home.  But, honestly, I often forgot when a kid was somewhere else and when he or she was just hiding somewhere out of sight to play on electronics.  Plus, sometimes the noise level around here made me think they were all at home anyway.

My usual escapes were usurped—all kids insisted on coming to run errands in town so that they could burn their hard earned money on gadgets, nonessentials, and candy or soda;  long country drives were commandeered by Big, who has his learner’s permit, while everyone griped about my music choices on the radio; the kids were forced to go on dog walks with me because it seemed like the right thing to do even though it meant I had to endure a million complaints about speed, distance, and “how much longer?”  Even a trip to the gym inspired tag-a-longs hoping to meet their friends at the ice skating rink.

Which only left work.  Work was my only refuge. 7 days a month when all I had to deal with was death, pain, and bodily fluids instead of the demanding chaos of full time parenting.  So last night at work I spun out my fantasies of the kids’ first day back at school with my work partner.  As soon as the buses came and went, I would climb into bed and sleep peacefully until afternoon.  No little heads poking into my darkened room to ask if they could open a 2 liter of soda, no one bringing me the phone saying, “I don’t know who it is but they asked for you,”, no one putting the dogs outside and then putting in their ear buds so they couldn’t hear the dogs’ endless barks to come back in, no laying in bed trying to determine if the sounds of warfare drifting in over the whir of the bedroom fan warranted interruption or were just another Nerf battle surging through the house.  And after my well-deserved nap I would rise and clean the house, the entire house, without having to beg or nag for help, without having to move lazing children from room to room,  without fear that as soon as I picked up, a child would come through leaving socks, shoes, cups of water, plates full of crumbs, or personal possessions scattered all over.  It may not sell a million copies, but this what a real mother’s fantasies are made of—-lots of sleep and a clean house that stays clean.  Really, people.

My fantasy was short-lived.  At 6am The Other Half called me as I was leaving work to tell me Little was sick.  He wasn’t sure how sick or what should be done about it, but he left Little on the couch dressed for school—-whiny, sniffly, and sleepy.  When I got home, I took his temperature and sent him to bed with an Advil Cold & Sinus.  Little had already been been back at school for 6 weeks so he could take a sick day without it affecting anything except my plans for a peaceful day.  That’s because Little goes to a year round elementary school while the other kids go to traditional middle school and high school.  That’s right.  I have 4 kids in 3 different schools on 2 different schedules.  Which is why when Sheryl Sandberg told me to “lean in” I spit coffee all over my computer screen before I burst out laughing.

With Little back in bed, I set about making the kids’ lunches according to the meal plan I established last week.  To avoid sandwiches every school day, I made menus that included 1 day of pasta salad, 1 day of wraps, 1 day of a salad with greens, and 1 day of lunch kebobs each week.  That only left 1 day of good ol’ PBJ and I intended to save that for days when I was slammed.  With only 1 kid sick, I wasn’t desperate enough to use PB&J yet.  With my savory ham, swiss, & napa cabbage wraps with homemade dressing completed, I added carefully chosen fruit sides (no apples for kids with braces and no grapes for Big), carrots sticks, chips, and a cookie.  They were beautiful lunches.  I smiled at them, trying to ingrain the picture of perfect lunches on my memory.  Because the lunch plan will probably not make it past September.

But then Big came down and an argument ensued about why teenage boys have to shower before bed and before school.  After all the ridiculous puberty videos in the auditorium and the fights over sex education in school and I’m still having to tell my son that teenage boys stink and they should shower anytime they have an opportunity.  Really, there’s no public service announcement covering this?  Really?  What do my taxes pay for???  With him off to his bathroom, I went to check on Pretty.  Because getting her out of her bathroom on time is usually my next morning battle.  But I found her up, dressed, and smelling sweet as a flower in her room.  Except she also had a bit of a stuffy nose.  And a headache.  For which she had already taken ibuprofen and decided she was fine to go on to school.  Because she’s female.  She smells nice and she knows better than to wait for someone to take care of her or make decisions for her about how she feels.  I gave her an Advil Cold & Sinus for her pocket to take later that day if she needed it and told her not to wave it around or we’d need doctors notes and prescriptions and hermetically sealed bottles for the nurse’s office.  I knew it broke the school rules on OTC meds but I figured we should just get the school rule-breaking done and over with right away.

When I got back downstairs, Middle was packing up his lunch, complaining that he wanted leftover roast beef instead of the meal plan. Big was out of the shower and had also left half of his lunch on the table because it apparently did not meet his standards either.  That’s what gratitude sounds like at 7am on the first day of school.  We confirmed Middle’s school bus number and pick up time that we were given by the school’s department of transportation.  Then we went down 15 minutes early and planned on waiting 15 minutes later than the assigned pick-up time because that’s how school buses work on the first day.  I figured the bus wouldn’t come and I’d have to drive him in anyway (because that’s how school buses work on the first day) but that still put me in bed, after the milking, by 8:30am.  Not too shabby.  When Pretty and Big rolled down the driveway on their way to the bus stop I knew it was time to fold.  I was about to pull out to drive Middle to school, wishing the high schoolers luck on their bus arrival, when 2 Great Pyrs dashed out of the woods, frollicked across the road, and joined Big and Pretty at the bus stop, where the huge dogs seated themselves for pats inbetween running out in the front of passing cars.

That’s when I knew it was done.  All my fantasies vanquished.  I figured the Great Pyrs were from the neighboring farm a mile down the road and I knew I couldn’t leave them loose since my own Great Pyr has been rescued from the road on several occasions during his walkabouts.  I put Middle at the end of the driveway, told him if the bus came he was to get the hell on it, otherwise I would be back to drive him to school as soon as I returned the Pyrs.  I loaded up the Pyrs in the van and rove them down the street.  The neighboring farmer was also waiting at the end of his driveway with his son, hoping for the middle school bus.  As we unloaded the dogs, we discussed bus numbers.

“We’re still waiting on 212,”  I told him.

“Huh,”  he said  “We’re waiting on 149.  Can that be right?”

“I don’t know,”  I said.  “We only live a mile apart.  Shouldn’t our kids be on the same bus?”

“Maybe.  But this seems too late.  Do you think it’s coming?”

We both kind of shrugged.  Because if you have kids in public school then you know anything and everything is possible.  The first day of school always feels like it requires something stronger than pre-planning or good luck.  It requires something like the Force.

Image result for may the force be with you.

Just as I was getting back in my car to head home, bus 212 came rumbling down the road from the direction of my house.

“That bus is going to the middle school!  Don’t let it get away!”  I called.

Image result for do or not do there is no try

But my neighbor was already stepping into the street.  The driver stopped, confirmed he was headed to the middle school, but wasn’t sure if he had just picked up my kid or if he was supposed to pick up my neighbor’s kid.   With school start time only 20 minutes away, my neighbor made the only reasonable choice, and put his son on the bus.  As it roared off, he came back to my car window.

“Do you think your son was on there?”

“I’ll find out when I get home,”  I said.  My neighbor looked a little worried.

“The bus driver looked kind of confused, huh?”  We both shrugged again.

When I got home, Middle was gone and Big and Pretty told me that bus 212 stopped for him and he got on without any problems.  I told them to give their bus 15-20 more minutes while I did the milking.  If it didn’t come by the time I finished the barn chores, I’d drive them in.  Which now put me getting to bed at 9:30am.  Probably.  Maybe.  Eh.  This is why fantasies are just fantasies.

The kids were walking up the driveway as I came out of the barn with the milk bucket.  I sighed.

“Get in the car.  I’ll get my keys,”  I called to them.  We loaded up and headed for the high school.  When we were about 50 yards down the road, we saw a school bus approaching.

“Oh, there it is,” they said and then yelled as I whipped into a driveway and started getting out in my ripped barn shorts, stained t-shirt, and flip flops, “No!  Mom, no!”

“You’re getting on that bus!”  I said.

And the bus driver stopped.  Because a stressed and tired mother who just finished a 24 hour shift, has already rescued the neighbor’s dogs, whose school lunch meal plan has already been rejected on the first day of school, who has one sick kid at home and one kid hanging on through the magical powers of ibuprofen and just wants the rest of them to make make it to frickin’ school already is almost as powerful as the Force.  And my kids got on the bus.  I told the driver our proper address and she told me that the buses were all running late and she’d be at our stop the next morning about 5 -10 minutes earlier.  I told her that was fine and finally, finally headed back home. I took a shower, fed the dogs, sent them to their couches for a nice long nap and then climbed into bed.

Just as I closed my door, I heard the creak of Little’s door opening and his footsteps in the hall.

“Mom?”

I opened my door.

“Yeah?”

“I still don’t feel good….”

Which is how I finally had time to write a blog post.  Watching Little sip ice water and waiting for his fever meds to kick in before, hopefully, please, sweet Jesus, sending him back to bed.  I checked Facebook and saw all the adorable first day of school pictures.  Pictures?  Pictures with homemade signs?  Really?

Image result for that's impossible, star wars

I take it back.  I am dead.

Comments

3 Responses to “Pictures? Really?”

  1. Andrew
    August 24th, 2015 @ 11:53 am

    And people ask me why we stopped at only one kid.

  2. Nils
    August 24th, 2015 @ 1:26 pm

    I was worried that we hadn’t heard from you for awhile. Glad to hear that you’re fine and were just having a lazy summer lying around.

  3. Lisa Dumain
    August 25th, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    Please please please tell me what the magic of a transportation schedule is????? I think all Orange County moms need to meet at Hot Tin for a full out rant about the first day of school!

    Thanks for making me chuckle about it 🙂

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