The tardy bell. I swear someone keeps changing the school clocks. On the days the tardy bell wins, I’m left marching my crew into the main office to explain our irresponsibility.
Do I not believe that those cumulative minutes are lost in the entirety of my child’s education? No, I get it. I really do.
But you have to understand. I really do try.
Which gives inspiration to my first bit of writing on those days. Filling out “the form.” The form for all who lost to the tardy bell that day.
First, the student’s name.
Next, the dreaded “Time In,” which pays no respect to the near miss that our morning was. 8:51 might as well be 10:28. Tardy, after all, is tardy.
No, the first and second fields of that form are not where I plead my case.
It’s field #3 where the writer in me is unleashed. I like to think it entertains the person who performs the data entry.
“The mousetrap ate my daughter.” That was one of the worst. Mornings, that is. As an excuse, it must’ve held water. We were rushing out the door but still making good time, and little #3 turned back for reasons still unknown. Stuck her finger straight in the mousetrap that she’d ignored all weekend but couldn’t resist at 8:32 on a Monday morning. Tears. Hugs. Bandaids. More hugs. Tardy bell.
“Wardrobe malfunction” He’s of the age where dressing independently is a thing. A thing I bark at him to do in the final moments before our tardy-bell fate is sealed. A thing he is capable of doing. But he’s the one who, nine times out of ten, has it on backward or inside out or, well, not at all. This particular day, he had on boy-leggings/tights/base-layer (whatever we’re calling those things) on top of his shorts. Shirt on backward. And no underwear–because that’s apparently optional. Discovering this in the morning scramble to get out the door led to peeling off layers, redoing it myself, and–you guessed it–tardy bell.
“Loss of appetite” I get it. I don’t always feel in the mood for every food I sometimes like. But when Mom’s got 90 minutes to pull herself together, make breakfast, pack lunches, dress–and re-dress–one to three children, make her own lunch, pack bags, find umbrellas (which go missing on the rainiest of days), find missing shoes, and resolve whatever arguments or crises that can’t resolve themselves, there’s no time for insisting on the only flavor of yogurt that we’re out of or refusing to eat altogether. Car Gogurts, car milk, car bagels, car teeth-brushing, but to no avail. Tardy bell.
“It all began last night…” Because let’s be honest, the real problem isn’t always the morning. Kiddos late to bed, kiddos late to rise. Momma late to bed, Momma late to rise. Late to rise = groggy kids = grumpy kids. (Of course early to rise also equals grumpy kids and grumpy Momma but for entirely different reasons.) I’ve been tempted to catalog the series of unfortunate events that led to our morning demise, but there simply isn’t room. Event A. Event B. Event C. Event D. Event E. Event F. Event G. Tardy bell.
“The morning ate my homework.” We stay fairly on top of homework most nights. And frankly, I don’t know how we do it. But we do. And you do too. It’s this pact we all make every September and somehow it happens, through blood, sweat, and tears. But some mornings we discover something fell between the cracks. Some worksheet or test-studying or reading-time got edged out by whatever last night brought. And this momma tries to make it fit into our already-crowded mornings. Why? Because if we’re going to be late, we might as well have the homework done. “Way to go! We’re going to make it on time still. Wait, why isn’t your name on your paper?” Tardy bell.
“Three-year-old” Who can blame her? She’s three. And she’s the third. She’s expected to dress herself, feed herself, bus her own dishes, brush her teeth, put on outerwear, and pack her bag, just like the other two. But she has three-year-old emotions, three-year-old coordination, three-year-old stubbornness, three-year-old perspective, and three-year-old comprehension. All the aforementioned activities come with inherent risks. Mothering a three-year-old out the door. Tardy bell.
“Three kids” This was my most-recent winner. Because honestly, if I had only two of them–any two–on any given morning, we’d be at least 5 minutes early. One, and it doesn’t matter which, is always the wild card for the morning. There’s no possible way for all three to be on their game at any given point in time. So, bottom line, most mornings we’re late because, well, “three kids.” “Kid one?” Check! “Kid two?” Check! “Kid three? Kid three? Kid three, where is your backpack?” Tardy bell.
This signing in for tardies may get a little old for some, but it’s a writer’s challenge for me. Topping last time’s excuse with the best one yet.
But let’s be honest. They should be asking me to account not for the days we’re late but rather for the days we are on time.
Because those, my friends, are the most unbelievable tales yet.