One Hour

5:00pm.  Actually, the time clock read 17:00:36.  That’s 5:00 and 36 seconds for non-military, normal people.

I have one hour, sixty minutes, to leave work, pick up the boys, take them home, go get something to eat and get back to work.  I’ve done it before.  This time will be like all the other times, I think to myself.

Tick tock, tick tock.

I clock out and then on my way out the door, I am stopped by a customer at the front door asking if they can return something they bought four (4!) years ago, a little blender.  They claim… at this point, I stop listening and point at the front desk and say, in as nice a tone as possible, ova their.   I smile courteously and shake my head like I am really sympathetic to their predicament when in reality I cannot imagine what could possibly go through someone’s head to return something after four years!!! Even if it wasn’t open, which they alluded to it hadn’t, but still, why return it?  Why not give it away to your darling little niece or nephew in their Christmas stocking?  That would be an awesome gift for any eight-year-old.   But, I digress.

Time is of the essence.  Tick tock, tick tock.

I start the car and start toward the camp, which as the crow flys, is about two miles away AT MOST!  But, I’m not flying and I live in Rockland County, NY, where not only is there a traffic light every 50 feet, whether one is needed or not, the roads were designed by an old farmer with a blind cow.  Straight is definitely overrated here.  Plus, let’s not forget, it is now 5:08pm, which means everybody else in Rockland County except me, actually GOT OFF WORK at 5pm.  Needless to say, the lights, the roads, the just-got-off-work drivers, the Tuesday let’s-just-get-in-the-car-and-drive drivers are all slowing me down, for lack of a better word.

Oh, and then there’s the “person” behind me who decides to speed past me at the light just so they can get two cars in front of me in the line waiting for the next traffic light to turn green.

But, that’s ok.  I’m a mature, down-to-earth, easy going man who doesn’t let these really trivial things take emotional or stressful roots in my psyche.  I’m on a mission to get my boys.

Tick tock, tick tock.  5:18.

I arrive at the school where the summer camp is.  I can sense something is not right here.  Parents are definitely pulling up front and parking and even walking inside, but no one is walking out.  Where are the boys?

I park, not in one of my favorite places, but a little further than I would like because an older woman has decided to park her car at a place on the curb where no car can park in front of or behind her.   That’s ok, I can handle it.  I walk past her car as she gets out and smile and nod and she smiles and nods and I can see that the lights are on, but no one is really home there.   Hey, I’m the absolute last one to prejudge somebody on their age, but when she gets out of the car and then reaches in to get her walker, I have to think that maybe…. well, she should have a good talk with her lazy daughter and no-account son-in-law, just saying.

But, I digress.  I’m on a mission.

I walk into the auditorium and it is empty.  Uh oh.  I look around and look in the gym, boys not there.  I turn and see the boys walking down the hall toward me.  That’s ok.   They see me and say, Daddy can we have some money?  Now, I know that that is not a good sign for six-year-olds.  When they get to be 12 or 16, I can expect to hear that, not at six.  They say they want a snack, even though Mortimer is holding a half-drunk (or half-empty, I assume he drank it) bottle of lemonade.  I say, as politely as if I’m talking to the Queen, you can have something at home.  Let’s get your stuff and go, daddy has to go back to work.

We walk into the auditorium to retrieve their bags.  Morty is juggling his lemonade and Archibald walks to his table and begins walking around it as if looking for something.  I naively ask, what are you looking for, Archie?  He replies, my drawings.  There were clearly no drawings on the table.  Somehow we spend the next five minutes (tick tock, tick tock) walking around the table again and again looking for the missing drawings. When I am able to convince Archie that he can pick them up tomorrow, he reluctantly follows Morty and me out to the car.


We drive toward home, arrive, get out and head inside.  Now, tonight is Grandma’s night to feed them.  She was told, by my lovely and talented wife and mother to the two incredibles, that she would be needed.  Nevertheless, when we get home, she is nowhere to be found.  I run upstairs calling for her.  She appears out of the kitchen and quietly says, what?  I say the boys are home and…. She looks somewhat stunned, but responds, I’ll be right down.

I return downstairs to find Archie and Morty sitting on the couch watching TV.  It is at this time that I feel I’ve reached somewhat of a dilemma:  should I leave since the boys seem to be settled for a moment or should I wait until that moment when Gma actually descends the stairs and I know that the boys will be supervised?  I begin mulling this over and Gma appears and says, Ok, you can go. I jump into my car.

5:36pm.  Tick tock, tick tock.

The good news is that the traffic is headed in the other direction now.  Smooth sailing, or so I think until I reach the major intersection.  Traffic is backed up in one lane as drivers contemplate their next move which can either be going forward or turning.  I suppose some people find that to be too much of a strenuous mental test.  The driver immediately in front of me (somehow) decides to let somebody out of the shopping center.  What is really incredible is that she(?) made this monumental decision while the light was GREEN in front of her.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier without the driver in front of you?   The bad news is that the people behind me probably feel the same about me.  Bummer.

So much for being a grounded, mature, thoughtful man.  I beep my horn, fly around her, gun the engine and race through the light.  After all, I’m on a mission.  She follows me and pulls behind me into the grocery store parking lot.

She casually smiles and me and gives me a look that she is looking at someone whose lights are on, but I’m not home.  Funny how things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Tick tock, tick tock.

Finally, I’m at the food bar picking out my dinner.  I have twenty minutes left to eat and get back to work.  Work is only three lights away, or twenty minutes, whichever comes first.

I shovel my food into my mouth.  I don’t really remember what I picked out but some of it was green, some meat of some type and something else, rice, I think.

I drive back to work and clock in at 18:00:48.  I made it!


My Turn

It is one of those days after one of those nights.

It’s early still, only 7:00am on a Friday, no less.  Last night, daddy couldn’t say or do anything right.

And this morning, it is my turn to get the boys, Archibald and Mortimer (not their real names), ready for summer camp.

I’ve done this before, but today nothing goes right.  The boys cooperate less than any other day ever.  Mortimer goes through the motions, but his heart is really not in it.  For example, I have to physically carry him to the bathroom to brush his teeth.  And then, he brushes his teeth while simultaneously singing Shake it Off by Taylor Swift.  And dancing to it, of course.  Meanwhile, toothpaste goes flying all around the bathroom.

Archibald continues playing in his room while Morty brushes his teeth.  Archie is constructing a dinosaur-big machine-spaceship (very elaborate, I might add, it looks exactly what one would look like if one actually existed).  When Morty finishes and I encourage Archie that it is his turn, he runs away.  He runs upstairs to grandma’s second bedroom and hides.  I immediately ground him for life in as loud a voice as I can muster at 7:30 without waking the neighbors in the next county.  Grandma can’t hear anyway so I know she won’t hear it.

I quickly realize the error of my announced punishment and that it would literally hurt me more than him.  I do try to be as patient as possible with Archie since he was diagnosed with a learning disability and borderline autism.   Nevertheless, I have to carry him, too, to the bathroom.  He actually brushes in pretty good form.

Now, onto the spraying of suntan lotion and dressing.   Morty has since been re-constructing Archie’s ‘spaceship’ into his own superhero-racecar-submarine.   I tell him of the next activity and he stands up.  But, he stays there.  He doesn’t move.  I have to help him start taking his clothes off after repeated threats (not of grounding, I learned my lesson), but of taking toys away.  He decides to sit on my lap and give me a big hug.  Ok, even the hardest guy-football player-construction worker would be brought to tears for such a tender moment.  I collapse with an explosion of emotion so profound and complete, I immediately promise to give him everything in the world.  Somehow, he dresses.

Archie, in the meantime, reconstructs Morty’s sub.  But, in a rather uncharacteristic move, when I mention it is his turn, he stands up and does the whole thing himself, except for the spraying of suntan lotion, which would have happened easily if the can was still full.  Oh no.  Fortunately, in a nano-moment of clarity, daddy realizes that he had bought an extra can for precisely this kind of moment.

Now, getting on shoes and out to the car happens, again somehow, it all seems like a big blur anymore.  But, when Archie gets into the car, he always has to go through the front seat to the back, he touches the control for the windows.  I don’t realize that until I get into the driver’s seat and cannot lower the windows.

Somehow, in the quantum physics of life, the universe has conspired that today be one of those days.  The planets have magically, mysteriously, momentarily moved out of alignment.  I thought, well, all I have to do now is drive the little buggers to camp, without lowering the windows, of course.

It was an easy proposition, but Rockland County, NY is known for having traffic lights every 50 feet whether they are needed or not.  Plus, somehow, the universe alerted every slow driver on the east coast to drive in Rockland this morning.   The boys recited the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address three times each, in Chinese and English, before we make it to summer camp.

Do you think that was too much, teaching them Chinese, before they can read?

We get to camp and daddy realizes that the trip was so long, he will have to shave again when he gets home.  But, the boys start to run in and then turn around and each grab a hand and pull me inside.  Again, I collapse from emotion which was for them, their way of showing affection.

Ok, this wasn’t so bad.  I could do this again, in about a year or so.


Daddy is tired

Maybe it’s just me, maybe not… But, it seems like I’m always tired…. Am I not eating right, not getting enough sleep, not watching enough commercial television to give me energy?