Grant and two of his buddies, Dane and Raleigh, started water polo last week. Practices are Monday's and Wednesday's from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. which just might be the worst start time imaginable. School doesn't even get out until 3:10 p.m. each day. That gives all the parents who have a kid playing water polo exactly 20 minutes to sit in the car pool line at school, gather their kid, force a snack down their throat on the drive to the pool, and leave them with enough time to get changed and in the water by 3:30.
One day in the school pick-up line was enough for me to take the plunge into the car pooling world. Devising a car pool plan that splits four shifts between three moms was really complicated. You should have seen the three of us, huddled in a little group trying to develop the easiest and most memorable way to get our boys to and from water polo. The plan we settled on was Rose and I splitting the four shifts, flip-flopping between pick up and take home with Amy filling in the gaps that occur when one of the nine other children we have between the three of us had to be somewhere else at the same time. I entered each of my shifts into my iTouch, color-coded it orange for Grant, and even set it up to repeat each week. Pretty impressive, right?
Monday was the first day of carpooling. I had a lot scheduled and woke up feeling efficient, so I double-checked with Rose that she was picking the boys up from school and confirmed that I was bringing them home. I launched into a really full day of stuff that engaged my brain. I dusted off the Working Woman cobwebs and had a phone meeting. The meeting created To-Do lists and even two deadlines. I can't remember the last time I had a deadline!
I was so busy using up brain cells for my new project with a deadline, that somewhere between 3:30 and 4 p.m. things switched in my brain. At 3:30 p.m. I told the girls, "Hurry and do your homework cause we have to go pick up all the boys from water polo." At 4:00 p.m., I told them, "Sure you can play outside. We'll all go out and enjoy the nice day until Grant gets home from water polo." And with that verbal faux pas I went from being Super Organized Responsible Mom to Irresponsible Airhead Mom.
The girls rode bikes while I twiddled my thumbs. We played and waited. Waited and played. I got impatient, checked my watch, and wondered what was taking Rose so long. Got bored and decided to pick up dog poop and mow the grass. Just about the time I was starting to get worried, the lightbulb went off in my head. DOH! Rose wasn't late. I was late. And not just a little bit either. Panic seized me and I didn't recognize my own voice as I hollered to the girls, "It's me. It's me. I'm the ride. I'm the ride. How could I mess that up? Run to the car!"
I dashed inside to get my keys and look up the number to the pool. My hands were shaking so bad, I could hardly turn the pages. The nice lady at the desk assured me that all three boys were still waiting and wondering where their ride was. She agreed to pass on the message that I was on my way on to them. I hung up and tore down the stairs to the van. Fortunately the girls were loaded in the van and as I squealed out of the driveway, I called Rose. By the time she answered, I was a wreck. Sobbing and shaking and apologizing all over myself. It takes a lot to rattle me and let me tell you, I was the definition of rattled.
Thankfully Dane and Raleigh are not first-born children and this is not the first time their parents have unknowingly accepted an airhead in the carpool driving schedule. Rose was so calm, forgiving, and gracious. While I sobbed and drove like a crazy woman, she calmly said, "It's no big deal. They're in a safe place and they're in a group. They'll be fine. I'll call Amy for you and let her know when to expect Raleigh."
By the time I got to the pool, water polo had been over for 45 minutes. I ran into the lobby, but it did NOT contain three, adorable 4th grade boys. The sweetest sound that day was Grant's voice hollering, "Mom! Mom! Over here." The boys had gotten bored waiting for me and went across the parking lot to play at the playground. They came running up to the van, completely hyper, excited that they got extra time to play at the park, and amused that I was so late. When I asked them why they didn't call me, Grant said, "Well I tried. We asked the lady at the desk to use the phone. I typed in our number and the call didn't go through so I hung up and we went back outside to play some more." He added, "We thought you were never coming so we were practicing our last goodbyes to everyone that was important" and then went on to list mostly the names of all the cute girls in their classes. My name was not on the list of "important" people.
Now that the horror of the evening is past, I can see the humor in it. Me, working myself into a tizzy, while the boys are playing at the park in the pouring rain, relishing unplanned hang out time. My friend Melanie pointed out that we'd all be better off if we lived more like a kid, shrugging off the unexpected and looking for a chance to play instead of panic.
Today is another water polo day and all four of my kids reminded me that it was my turn to pick them up from school. "Don't forget Mom" was the last thing Grant said as he got out of the car. Later today, I went to school to watch an intramural floor hockey playoff game and saw all three boys. Dane and Raleigh both asked, with tiny smirks on their faces, "Uh Mrs. Stilp? You'll remember to pick us up today right?" And Curt, in the whopping 36 hours it's been since The Incident, has remarked on more than one occasion, "Hurry up kids. C'mon before Mommy forgets you."