Winter break 2014 grows steadily smaller in my rearview mirror with each new day. It’s already the end of February, which shouldn’t be a surprise since it is the shortest month. Still, how did we get to the 23rd already? Even with Snowpacalypse 2015 and the never ending snow days, we’ve been sprinting towards week-ends and the beginning of the new month with Olympic type speed.
After the break, reminders were sent home with the 4th graders that they would be in charge of a chapel service at school at the end of February. I dutifully noted that on my calendar and kept an eye out for any emails or papers to that effect. A few weeks ago, M comes home from school and I check her homework journal. Under the heading for Religion, it said, “Chapel Practice”. I asked M about it, to which she replies the 4th grade is working on their presentation, selecting things like music and scripture with the help of their religion teacher. As I tuck her in that night, her eyeslids ricochet up as she realizes she’s forgotten to get something to bring in for the chapel practice.
“Mom! Mom! Mr. J- wants me to bring in a big ball tomorrow, like a beach ball, for religion class!” she panics, sitting up in bed and casting her eyes about her room for something — anything — resembling a beach ball.
I look at my watch. 8:20pm. I’m already running on fumes, still have to tuck in C and V, and am itching to get off my feet and into my chair so I can cuddle up with the DVR. “Look,” I say to her, gently pushing her back towards the pillows, “there’s no ball in here. I don’t know where one is, okay? I’m sure we can figure something out tomorrow and you can bring it in the next day or somehting.” I’m already thinking about those big gumball colored rubber balls held captive in a giant cage at Wal-Mart.
“I know where one is! I know where one is!” says M, sitting back up. “In the shed, there are those balls you got us this summer. I’ll just get it in the morning.”
I vaguely remember some rubber balls flying through the air outside, getting stuck under the back deck, and being kicked onto the roof of the shed. If she’s sure it’s there, she’s welcome to it. I remind her, though, that it’s her responsibility to remember to get it before we leave in the morning.
While I shouldn’t be surprised, I am when M goes out to the shed — without asking for any accompaniment from C or V — and grabs the ball, well in advance of leaving for school. We get to school. They get dropped off amidst well wishes for a great day and before I know it, I’m back in the carpool line to pick them up. Once buckled in backseat, M says, “Mom! Mom! Mr. J- says I need to bring in another ball if I have one for religion class. It’s for part of the dance routine. There’s another ball in the shed. Can I bring it in tomorrow?”
Hmmm. We just brought in a ball today. Now we need another one? Is this going to be a recurring theme until the actual chapel service? I say to M, as we head back to our house, “Do you have a sheet or something that has a list of the supplies you need so that we aren’t waiting until the last minute for stuff?” She gives me a little speech that begins with, “See, the way my religion class is set up. . .” that has me wondering if she’s been listening to Kevin Hart on Pandora when I’m not paying attention. In any event, there’s no sheet. Further inspection of her religion folder at home produces a piece of notebook paper with a list in her handwriting that includes balls and not much else. I tell M that she can have the other ball if she can find it, which she did. I make a mental note to follow-up with her homeroom teacher and/or the religion teacher, but get sidetracked by life and forget.
A few days later, as we are in the midst of the bedtime routine, M tells me that her teacher wants her to bring in tutus for the dancers in the chapel program. When I think back about what happened next, I realize, she caught me at a bad time. She and C had both just finished plays in their respective grade, which required multiple trips to Target for long sleeved shirts, leggings, and hats, as well as a few panicked calls to Grandma to outfit them in their respective costumes. I’d also picked up supplies for Valentine’s Day for all three of their classes, and set up little reminders for myself for the other volunteering responsibilities that I’d signed up for back in September. I was maxed out at that point. Sure, I’m not the only parent to take on tasks, volunteer to bring things in and so forth. I know lots of parents who revel in that kind of thing. At that point in time, though, with the addition of a handful of tutus that, no doubt, had to be brought in the following day, I was ready to pass the buck.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table, shoveling my dinner in my face in attempts to eat it while 1) it was hot and 2) M, C, and V were otherwise occupied, therefore not in need of any immediate assistance. But, I’m like Doc Brown and they’re the Libyans. Even if I took my plate into the laundry room, shut the door and perched upon the agitator, they’d find me. And M did, a request for tutus tumbling out of her mouth.
I put down my fork and sighed, probably ran a hand over my face in dramatic fashion. “Look,” I said, “I haven’t seen any notices or emails from the teacher about what you need to bring in. I think we’ve contributed enough to this project, okay? You tell Mr. J- that we don’t have any tutus. It’s not my job to outfit the entire 4th grade for this thing.”
Well, you can guess what happened next.
I’ll give you a hint. Your girl M went to school the following day and when she was asked about the tutus said,
“My mom said that we don’t have any tutus and it’s not her job to outfit the entire 4th grade for this thing.”
Which is what she told me she said when she got in the car that afternoon, to which I replied:
I suppose I should be lucky she didn’t embellish it at all. It’s not like I was muttering and mumbling filth-a-flarn-flarn-filth or something. I didn’t tell her to share the message like that Kevin Hart bit. I just didn’t specify what she was to share and what she was not. I didn’t realize I needed to.
I used to say, “Mother of Pearl!” and “Crap on toast! ” in place of the four and five letter words best left to the Sopranos for fear of having them sprinkled like confetti during a toddler playdate by one of my own precious gems. Turns out, it’s not the expletives or inappropriate jokes that you have to be wary of being repeated. It just the run of the mill directions, lacking in clarity, that will get you in trouble. Turns out, I just need to sandwich everything with a hearty helping of, “Don’t repeat that!” because if I don’t, they will.