I feel a little ashamed to write this next sentence, but I won’t let that stop me. Sometimes the highlight of my day is leaving my kids behind and driving to work. I’m not saying that work is the highlight of my day. I’m not even saying that driving is the highlight of my day. I’m talking about leaving the kids behind—that part is the highlight of my day, sometimes.
Like this morning. Stump woke me up at 6:20. It was early and I didn’t have to leave until 9, so I tried to be an optimist. Maybe I would get some laundry done. Maybe I could pay some bills. Maybe I would find Stump’s missing shoe. Smoke still slept in my bed. He had crept in during the wee hours, taking advantage of the fact that Kellie’s out of town. I decided to do something kind and make him bacon, because he had requested it the night before. By 7:00 the house smelled like bacon and I had a load of laundry going in the washer. Stump, busy eating blueberries, hadn’t destroyed anything yet. I was rocking this solo parenting gig.
I was forgetting that it typically takes ten minutes or less for our house to descend into chaos. Smoke woke up, and as I prepared the toast to go with his bacon, Stump climbed on top of the kitchen table and systematically tossed all of the papers onto the floor. I gave Stump his own toast to keep him busy. He sucked the jam off of it and tossed the bread onto the floor. Smoke’s crusts wound up on the floor as well, and when I asked him to pick them up, desperation already creeping into my voice, he acted as if he couldn’t hear me. I looked around and did an assessment: in addition to toast on the floor, there was a crusty, greasy bacon pan to clean, dishes to wash, and laundry to move to the dryer; none of us was dressed and I still hadn’t found that missing shoe. My blood pressure rose.
“Smoke! Please stop tuning me out! Please pick your crust up off the floor, now!”
Smoke just looked at me. “I know you’re going to apologize later for yelling.”
Somehow, we made it out the door fully clothed. I may have even managed to remove the toast from the floor before we left, though I know I left the greasy bacon pan behind. I dropped Smoke off at preschool, got back inside my car, and breathed. I was alone. Smoke’s preschool is two blocks away from my favorite coffee shop and so I drove there. There was a parking spot for me. Inside, there were no children, only grownups. The barista asked me what I wanted, and then when I told her she gave me that, exactly. I said thank you, and she said “Have a good day.” I was amazed by all this civility. No one threw toast on the floor. And then I continued on my quiet drive to work, sipping my cup of coffee.