Thursday, October 25, 2007

By Myself

This morning was a little hectic.

Actually, mornings here are always a little wild. Between 7:00 AM, when the boys wake up, and 8:00 AM, when they leave for school, no two days are the same. On four days of the week, my wife drives morning carpool. On another four days of the week, she has somewhere else to be immediately after carpool. Those days are not a one-to-one match. On some days Sam (4) goes with my wife. On some days he goes to his friend Anna's (3) house.

The only common factor is that on all five days of the week the Big Three boys go to school. But even in this there are subtle and challenging variations. Timothy (9) goes to school all day, and so gets a full lunch. Stephen (8) and Jonah (6) go half-days and only get a snack. Because of this schedule, they also take different carpools home. But that only makes the afternoons crazy.

This morning was worse than normal, though. Timothy had strep throat and was staying home. Sam had woken up in the night and stayed up for a few hours. Because of this he spent the morning either a) asleep in bed, b) crying about wanting to be back in bed, or c) crying about not wanting to go back to bed.

In the midst of Sam's crying and explaining to Stephen and Jonah why Timothy was still in his pajamas, my wife dropped a bomb: "Did you check the boy's homework?"

"No. Didn't you?"

"I took Timothy to the doctor yesterday afternoon, and then took Stephen to karate. I thought you checked it."

"Let me look."

Both of them had worksheets. So while Jonah sipped hot chocolate, he circled words like "the," "and," "to," and "green." While Stephen pouted about not having a chocolate Pop Tart, he raced through a math worksheet. Timothy just sat there and smiled.

While I presided over the homework, my wife took a shower. As she neared the end of hers, she yelled at me to come take mine. We high-fived each other as we passed, and the water never even got turned off.

When I got done, I dressed and came downstairs. My wife was looking through the boys' backpacks. She collected Jonah's worksheet and homework folder from the table and dining room floor, respectively, and then assembled his snack. Putting them all into the backpack, she placed it into the staging area. But Stephen's backpack was already there, zipped up and ready to go.

Suspicious, my wife picked it up and investigated the contents. Inside was his homework folder, with the worksheets in the proper place. She pulled out his signature sheet, which listed the assignments for each day of that week, and which usually required a parent's initials to ensure that each day's work is done. On Monday and Tuesday was a small, neat, set of initials in black pen. Under Wednesday was a slightly larger, but perfectly copied, set of my wife's initials in green magic marker.

She held it up for me to see. "Nice work," I said. "I suppose that's technically illegal. Why don't you go ahead and initial it yourself, and I'll go talk with our little forger."

Before I could make it out of the kitchen, she called out, "He packed his own snack."

I turned around to see her holding two cookies. No bag, not gummies, not a granola bar. Two cookies, shoved into his backpack.

"He's a pretty independent guy," she said.

I agreed, and nodded. "You'd think he'd use those powers for good, and remember to do his own homework."

She laughed. "Maybe someday."


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