A Comedy of Errors
The evening itself was resounding success.
But the lead in? Not so hot.
Honestly, I felt like I was stuck in an episode of "I Love Lucy".
At the beginning of the day I was feeling quite relaxed. I thought I had done well in terms of organization, and I had completed all the running around that needed to be done.
All I had to do was set up. And though I knew it would a big job, the kids had half days all week due to conferences, so we could get in the cafeteria early. With the three of us working, there would be plenty of time.
Except that it turned out to be just the one of us.
"I don't want you to feel like the Lone Ranger." said my illustrious leader; she of the nitpicking. But when the time came, she absconded to the nail parlor, citing a trip to Florida this weekend to underscore the urgency of the matter.
My other partner in crime had parenting issues that couldn't be avoided. Kids do have an amazing propensity for getting injured or ill at the most inopportune moments; a fact that would come to bear for me later in the day.
So there I was, at 2:30 on the afternoon of my event, with a gargantuan task ahead of me, and only two protesting adolescent boys to assist. They were more interested in horsing around than doing anything useful, and complained loudly when I interrupted their fun with a request. By 4:30, I had had quite enough of them.
I called husband to come get them.
"Baby, I would, but I'm cleaning the kitchen right now. Your chili boiled over and it's all over the damn place. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get this crock pot clean again. Do you need me to come right this minute?"
I sighed and told him no, I could put up with them a while longer. I was planning to be home by five anyway so I could change clothes, grab the chili and be back at the school to tie up loose ends before the event started at 7:00.
My timeline was still intact, and I thought I could pull it off if I hurried. So as I frantically glued die cut letters onto the banner that would adorn the wall above the judging table, I felt hurried, but still, essentially, relaxed and confident.
Do you all know that melon smacking sound that a human head makes when it has met an unmovable object with great force? It's a sickening sound; one that every mother's ear is trained to recognize as a harbinger of doom.
As soon as it registered in my whirling brain, I knew my timeline had just been shot to hell.
My sons, you see, in order to amuse themselves while not helping, had been propelling themselves across the glassy surface of the cafeteria floor on their backs, using their feet to drive them backward with amazing speed. And because they are boys and everything is a competition, they were "racing".
Pubescent One, not being a parent, has yet to sprout eyes in the back of his head. Thus, he failed to see the table behind him, and ran into it at full speed; unaware and unchecked.
Now, there are times that we, as parents, are not at our best. We don't say the right things, make the right decisions, or otherwise do that which allows us to perceive ourselves as good parents.
I will tell you right now; that moment was one of those moments.
While my son held his head and squinched up his eys and tried desperately not to cry, all I could think was...
Son of a Bitch. I do not have time to take that dumbass to the Emergency Room.
I know, you think less of me now. But I think it's only fair, considering how many posts have been made that show me in a very positive light as a parent. I owe it to all of you who have expressed admiration for my parenting skills, to admit that, sometimes? I am the epitome of parenting suckitude.
So I, ever the concerned and empathetic parent, said...
"Goddamnit. Are you bleeding?"
My tone was not sympathetic.
He was. Profusely. Those of you who've experienced the joy of a head wound know, that they bleed like crazy. In just a few moments, my gaily festooned cafeteria looked like a scene from CSI; Middle School.
When he saw all the blood, he freaked out. I saw him swaying and rushed to his side, although at 5'9" and 140 pounds, I'm not sure I could have done anything about it if he had lost consciousness and gone crashing to the floor. Break his fall with my ass, maybe.
He stayed on his feet though, and after I had assured him that he wasn't dying, I led him to the sink to get him cleaned up a bit and assess the seriousness of his wound.
The neatly incised scalp showed a glimmer of bone and I resigned myself to the fact that my evening was now hopelessly FUBAR. I called husband.
"Hey, umm, Pubescent One hurt himself. He needs stitches."
"WHAT? What happened?"
I explained. There was a pause.
"Dumbass" (loveyouhoney) he said. "I'll be right there."
I led Pubescent One outside to get some fresh air and also to avoid having to clean up vomit, as he was now dry heaving with panic. We waited.
"You're mad at me." he accused.
"Yes." I admitted.
"I didn't mean to get hurt!" he protested.
"I know. But you were not using good judgement, and now, because of that, I am even more stressed out than I was before. I don't have time for this tonight Pubescent One."
"I'm sorry, Mom."
SIGH. "It's okay. I'm sorry too."
Husband arrived and whisked him off to urgent care.
I hastily cleaned up the carnage and then dashed home to change, my timeline now hopelessly and irreperably askew.
I threw on my clothes, powdered my shiny nose, tried to tame my hair a bit, loaded my overflowing 5 quart crockpot into the van and secured it the best I could.
Not ten yards from my house, a squirrel darted out in front of me.
Instinctively, I swerved.
The crockpot slid across the carpeted floor, teetered on one edge, deposited chili into the passenger door pocket with a meaty splash, and then righted itself, dripping chili and beans.
I might have gone a teensy bit insane right at that moment, because instead of swearing a blue streak or pounding the steering wheel with my fist...I laughed maniacally. My reaction was not one of outraged shock, but rather resigned fatalism.
Because, really, at that point...why would I NOT spill chili in the van?
Luckily, from there, the evening proceeded pretty much as planned.
We combined cultural displays by some our ethnic families with a student art exhibition and a soup and chili cook-off. The price of admission was a jar of peanut butter or jelly for the local food pantry.
We also provided paper bags and art supplies so people could decorate lunch bags for the food pantry. There was a lot going on, needless to say.
I was very gratified by the response to the ethnic displays. We now have children from 65 countries enrolled at the school and we need to raise awareness and appreciation for their culture.
One of the participants, a diminutive woman with creamy cocoa skin and enormous brown eyes said to me..."This is so wonderful. You know, because when people think of Ethiopia, they think of starving children and desolation. But there is beauty there too. And so much history. I am so glad to have an opportunity to share that."
So as I said, the evening itself was a success. I even took third place in the chili portion of the cook off.
But that, people, is why I will not be orgranizing any more projects, fundraisers, fetes or fairs.
I will sit in the atrium and watch as people sign a clipboard. I will graciously greet visitors and hand them a pass. I will pour coffee for teachers during conference week. I will be a baking fool, if called upon.
But above that? My volunteering days are at an end. And please, dear husband of mine, if I somehow forget my oath of non-volunteerism and stick my arm up anyway...for God's sake break it off.
I have seen the error of my ways.
A comedy, of errors, in point of fact.
And I try to learn from my mistakes.