This morning, as I drove the Big-Eyed Boy to school while praying that my coffee didn’t kick in until I’d made it home, I heard the noise that no mom wants to hear at that hour of the day: the beep announcing that my gas tank was empty. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a big deal but, like I said, it was a school morning, and I am not a morning person. Why does that matter? Because I was still wearing my leopard print pajama bottoms, a t-shirt that said “If you can read this, get me a drink” and fuzzy bunny slippers. Yes, really.
Remember the good old days of full-service gas stations? I’d have gladly paid the extra 20-cents per gallon surcharge to avoid having to get out of my van to pump gas dressed like that. (And, no, this morning’s embarrassment probably won’t teach me to dress properly before taking the BEB to school. See previous comment about how I am NOT a morning person.)
Anyway, the whole experience reminded me that I’ll never be one of those moms who gets to stand at the front door waving as her kid climbs onto the school bus, or meets up with friends to walk or bike to school. Since our local school district is abysmal (but not so bad that they lost their accreditation, like the Kansas City, Missouri schools), our son goes to the next district over thanks to the Kansas Open Enrollment laws. Since we live outside of the district, the bus won’t pick him up, and no matter how much he begs to ride his bike the 2.2 miles to school, it’s all on very busy, very narrow streets that don’t have sidewalks.
Besides, I couldn’t handle the worry. Oh, I’d be fine with him riding the bus. I’d even be willing to shell out big bucks since it would give me an additional 30 minutes of sleep five days a week. But riding his bike? In a town with seven correctional facilities, at least one of which has an inmate escape every month? Please. I’d wind up being one of those moms who put on a brave face as her kid head out in the morning, then sat glued to one of those bearcat scanners until half-way through homeroom, by which time I figure the school would call to let me know if he was missing.
Plus, I’d miss out on some of my happy times with the Big-Eyed Boy. Now that he’s approaching puberty, those happy times are few and far between. Most days, I’m glad if I can get a grunted acknowledgement of my presence or even an exasperated “whatever” when I ask if he wants to go get a snack after I pick him up. But some days he forgets he’s in middle school and, therefore, is supposed to treat me with disdain. Some days, he’s still the funny, sweet little boy that used to tell me I’m the most beautiful woman in the world and how he’d never get married because no woman would ever, ever be as wonderful as his mom.
Then there are days like last week when, as he climbed into the van, he threw his backpack to the floor and slammed the door. “How old do I have to be before I’m allowed to swear?” he asked. “Because I had a really f$#king BAD day today!” (Yes, I duly chastised him for his language.)
On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d miss mornings like this one, when I’d just finished pumping gas and tried opening the van door. Nothing doing. He’d locked them all, then slunk down to the floor. For a full minute I stood there knocking on the window, rattling the handle, instructing him — in a rather loud and definitely miffed voice — to open up and let me in at once. When he finally reached over to unlock the driver’s side door, I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing, locking me out like that when I was in my pajamas.
“But Mooooom,” he said, his voice muffled by the shirt he’d pulled over his head, “that was Darcey Delaney* in the car ahead of us. She’s the most beautiful girl in sixth grade. I just COULDN’T let her see me with someone looking as fugly as YOU!”
Nice, right? Fortunately, I’ve been through this whole “I’m in Middle School and too cool for my parents” bit with my daughter, and know how to handle these kind of insults. I said nothing for the rest of the ride to school, merely sipped my coffee and waved at a few of the other moms in the drop-off line. Just as we pulled up to the school’s entrance and my son threw open the door and climbed, I called out loudly, “BYE BYE NOW, HONEY, I LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE YOU” right as he’d started to wave to Darcey Delaney.*
Call me fugly, will he?!
*Name changed to protect the Barbie lookalike who’s stolen my son’s devotion.