Mornings around here are hectic. I commute about forty minutes to work, so to get there on time I have to be backing out of my driveway no later than 6:45am. Not only that, I have to be backing out with both children dressed, fed and emotionally stable enough to handle the drive and the next six hours without me.
At some point Friday morning, after we had found everyone’s shoes and eaten something that resembled a breakfast, I loaded up the last bag into the car and I shouted at Scout to “please just hurry up and get in your seat!”
“Mom,” she said in a false-calm-grown- up tone, “I need to get Weston his toy.”
“Ok, great, grab his dog and let’s go.”
“Cat,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Fine, then get the cat and let’s go.”
She stared at me at the door with her hands on her hips, but didn’t budge. It was 6:43.
“Girl, let’s go,” I warned.
“Not until I get Weston’s toy!”
“Then get the cat and get in the car!”
“It’s not a cat, it’s a dog!” She held the poor creature by the scruff of its neck as its body dangled helplessly, reminding me of my own feeling of powerlessness in this current situation.
“I don’t care what it is. Get. In. The. Car.” I said, clapping with each word for added emphasis, which Weston understood as an invitation to a party and began clapping and yelling “yah yah” from his seat.
“Mom,” she closed her eyes and shook her head condescendingly, “this is a dog. It’s NAME is Cat.”
I stared at her in mild horror at what I had created, but then remembered she comes from a long lineage of puns and word play on her father’s side, so this is probably his fault.
“I just–ok,” I stammered and handed the animal to Weston, which he promptly threw on the floor of the car.
We were about twenty minutes into our commute when she stated, “Um, mom? I have to go potty.”
“What? You were supposed to do that before we left!”
“Well, I didn’t and so I have to go now.”
“Listen, I can’t stop anywhere. You’re gonna have to hold it.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“You have to.”
“I’ll just pee here.”
“NO! Just hold it until I can pull into Walgreens.
“Oh, ok,” she chimmed with no sense of urgency.
I pulled in, parked, and hustled to get both kids unbuckled and inside the store. I rushed to the end of the cosmetic aisle, baby on hip, and was almost to the public restroom when her voice rang out farther away than I had anticipated. I whirled around to see her standing in front of a make up display close to the door, studying intently.
“Mom? Why does her lips look wet?”
“What?” I said as I doubled back toward her.”
“The girl on the poster… Her lips are all wet.”
I glanced at the make up model, her lips dripping with gloss.
“I don’t know. I thought you had to pee.”
“Oh yeah,” she said nonchalantly and sauntered toward the restroom doors.
I followed her in, but she immediately shouted me out of the stahl because, “I need some privacy!”
We made it to school a modest ten minutes late and we poured out of the car and grabbed bags and lunches. I heard her mutter to her imaginary sister, “Oh, sorry. My lips are all wet because I was swimming and I didn’t have a towel for them,” so, naturally, I was stifling a laugh as I hoisted a forty pound bag onto one shoulder and balanced a twenty five pound toddler on the opposite hip.
My coworker smiled at me in the parking lot, “you guys having a good morning?”
“Yup! It’s been pretty smooth so far,” I replied without the slightest hint of sarcasm. Because, really, this was butter compared to Monday.