Saturday, 22 October 2011

Snacks Between Meals: Did You Pack a Towel?

It’s Saturday morning, and Duncan and I are alone this weekend.  Alison has taken Will to a badminton tournament in Edmonton, and I am taking Duncan to a swim meet here in Calgary.  Divide and conquer! 

When Alison is away for the weekend, as she sometimes is for events like skating competitions with her students, she usually leaves me a short checklist of reminders about the boys’ weekend activities (and the occasional errand that needs to be done). 

It’s helpful.

Earlier this week, when I went to pick up the boys from their sports practices after work, I got the usual Monday schedule a bit mixed up and kinda sorta forgot to take the older son home.  I was literally two minutes from the house when I received a call on my cell from Will, asking, “Did you leave without me?”

I turned the car around, and one hour later, I was again two minutes from our house.

If Will had called only me, this little error could have slipped under the radar and been soon forgotten.  Unfortunately, he also called his mother at work to find out how he was supposed to get home.

As I said, Alison usually leaves me a short checklist when she leaves town.  It typically looks something like this:

            10:00am          feed kids breakfast
                                   pack snacks for swim meet
                                   pack Duncan’s swim bag
            1:15pm            be at the pool for warm-ups
            6:30pm            put lasagna in the oven
            7:00pm            I’ll be home for dinner.  Love you!

But now I have proven my incompetence by abandoning a child.  (Child?  He’s fourteen!  If we were Navajo, I would have abandoned him in the middle of the desert for three days with nothing but a bag of peyote and a road-runner bladder filled with stale water…on purpose!)  The list now looks more like this:

            9:00am            wake up
            9:01am            wake up Duncan
            9:10am            get Duncan showered and dressed
            9:30am            get yourself showered and dressed
            10:00am          feed Duncan healthy breakfast
            10:30am          feed yourself healthy breakfast
            10:45am          take a pill (literally, it’s not just an expression)
            10:50am          use the bathroom
            10:57am          wipe your ass
            10:59am          wipe it again to be sure
            11:00am          pack Duncan’s swimsuit
            11:02am          pack a towel for Duncan
            11:04am          pack Duncan’s swim cap
            11:06am          did you remember the towel?
            11:08am          pack Duncan’s goggles
            11:10am          you did pack a towel, right?
            11:15am          pack a healthy snack for Duncan with fruit
            11:16am          but no bananas; he doesn’t like bananas
            12:45pm          leave for pool
            1:00pm            get out of car and lock it
            1:02pm            I didn’t hear the beep.  Are you sure you locked it?
            1:15pm            warmups start
            5:30pm            DON’T FORGET TO BRING DUNCAN HOME WITH YOU
6:30pm            locate lasagna in the garage freezer, set oven to…you know what, never mind, I’ll prepare something when I get home.

This would be humiliating enough by itself, but Alison also told her mother that I forgot to pick up Will.  So, when I saw Duncan’s grandparent’s last night, my mother-in-law reminded me no fewer than four times to pack a towel for her grandson.  Then she called me again this morning to remind me one last time.  Just to be safe.

Uh oh, it’s 10:52!  Hold on, I’ll be back in 7-10 minutes.  Talk amongst yourselves.


OK, I’m back.  In hindsight, I probably should have moved that item before my shower, but it may take a few weeks before I earn back the privilege to improvise.

Really, you would think instead of leaving Will at the Sports Club, I had tossed him into a dumpster filled with used meth needles, barely slowing down the car as I passed the dark alley where it was located.  It wasn’t even some roadside truck-stop, which is exactly where we misplaced my sister when she was about 7 years old.

It was one of those long, hot Gregson road-trips that were always accompanied by the smell of vomit and apple juice.  (Gregsons are notoriously prone to motion-sickness.)  We had made one of our many pit-stops for gas and Hostess fruit pies (possibly a catalyst for the motion-sickness), and when we were ready to pull our van away and hit the highway, my parents performed the ritual roll call.  They asked for six names and got six replies, but they didn’t know that someone had answered on Daina’s behalf.  Daina, who was still in the truck-stop washroom.

As you know, I don’t have a friendly relationship with pickup truck drivers.  My dad had similar issues with semi-truck drivers.  It was a rare road-trip when the Gregsons weren’t almost run off the road by a careless – or homicidal – driver at the wheel of a Mac truck.  So, when we heard the roaring acceleration of a quickly approaching 18-wheeler, we got a bit nervous.  When it pulled up beside us to match our pace and started blasting its horn, well, we all assumed well-practiced crash positions.  I think it was Shaunie who first found the courage to lift her gaze and exclaim, “Look, Dad, there’s a little girl in that truck who looks just like Daina!”

I suppose what bothers me most is that I only forgot our son the one time (and not on the side of the road in the middle of Idaho), and my credibility is completely shot.  Sure, there was the other time when I forgot to pick up both kids, but that was a completely different situation.  If they had truly been orphaned and abandoned, there is always a better chance they’ll be adopted together if they are found together.

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