Thursday mornings are hectic around my house. That’s because Ella has a school singing club that meets early on Thursdays, which means I have to get her out the door and to the school around 7:00AM.
For comparison’s sake, her bus usually pulls up around 7:20AM. If you have kids, you understand what a luxury 20 extra minutes can be.
What normally happens is I get up, get the coffee brewing, get the kids up, and begin working on lunches for the day. If I’m lucky, the school will have something that Jonathan wants for lunch, so that means one less lunch to prepare. As I’m assembling lunches, I’m also taking breakfast orders, answering questions about clothes, encouraging kids to get medicines done, and just managing the chaos.
I love it.
When I began working from home a couple of years ago, this was EXACTLY the kind of thing I pictured. My presence may be a mundane thing to my kids at this moment, but one day they will look back and remember their dad being there for them, almost every morning, and it will mean something to them. At least, that’s my hope.
Regardless, Thursday mornings have just a bit more pressure to them. If Ella’s not at the school on time, then she can’t get into the building for her club. That means we have to be really good with our time management. If we do it right, I’m able to get her off to school and make it home in time to take Jonathan to the bus stop.
If we do it wrong – if we’re off by even five minutes – then I get caught in traffic purgatory and Rachel has to take Jon to the bus. It’s no big deal, obviously, but I like walking my son to the bus. And he likes it too.
So this morning, we were off. And not just off, but OFF. Ella needed to take a specific medicine, which we couldn’t find because it was naturally hiding in plain sight on the kitchen table. While my children are exceptionally smart, they will never become trackers or bounty hunters. A bald eagle could build a nest on our couch and if I told them to go look for it, they would miss it. That was the case with Ella’s medicine.
When I finally found it, my stress level was at an 8. We were already five minutes behind, and we weren’t even in the car yet. I basically shoved my fifth grade daughter out the door as she attempted to take her medicine. I did 95 down my street, only to get caught at the corner of Hope Hollow and Cooper Roads, which is one intersection in Grayson that still feels lawless. There are about 5,000 cars that travel that road at any given moment, so gap is taken far more than it’s given. I barked my tires turning onto Cooper, which earned a giggle from Ella.
After coming into her school’s entrance on two wheels and practically having her dive and roll out of the car, I looked at the clock. 7:12AM. Jon and Rachel would already be on their way to the bus stop. There was no need for me to rush. Things were taken care of.
The funny thing is, it took me less than five minutes to get back to my house, which is on the level of minor miracles. It’s not like Elijah and the widow, or Naaman, but it’s up there with the talking donkey, if only because people like me drive like jackasses all the time around Grayson. When traffic actually flows smoothly, it’s notable.
As I pull into my neighborhood, I realize I didn’t see Jon’s bus on my way in. That means the bus is running late, which means I could still get to see my son before he leaves for school.
On my way to my house, I pass Rachel and Jon, who smiles and hops and waves at me. I look at the clock again and think, I can make it.
I pull into the garage, hop out of the car, and run inside. I drop my keys on the counter, refill my coffee cup, and proceed to speed walk like a goober out the door. I can see the bus stop, and Rachel and Jon are still there, so I tighten my grip on my coffee and add speed. In the distance, I hear the release of the airbrakes on the bus, and I start calculating if I can make it to my son before the bus.
It’s gonna be tight.
Coffee is sloshing over the edge of my cup, but I don’t care. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with my mission to hug my son before he leaves for school. I’m three-quarters of the way up the hill when I see the headlights of the bus. I lean into my speedwalk. Jon sees me and waves.
The bus turns onto our street. I’m almost there.
The lights on the bus start flashing as it slows to open the door. Rachel smiles and says, “Hey! You made it just in time!”
Jonathan runs into my arms. I lean down, kiss his head, and say what I always say to him (and Ella too) before they get on the bus: “Make today a great day. I love you.”
And as usual, I get Jon’s “Love you too.” He gets on the bus. Rachel and I watch him stride confidently to his seat. He’s such a funny kid – independent in so many ways, tender in so many others.
The door to the bus closes and, just like that, my son is swallowed up into another school day.
But not without knowing his dad loves him.