By Sarah Mansheim
Managing Editor • Mountain Messenger
Last Tuesday evening I had to go to the Frankford Elementary School open house. That’s fine, I didn’t mind. There were free hot dogs, so I didn’t have to cook dinner.
But, here’s the deal. I could not, for the life of me, figure out a way to pick up my kids from two different schools and also get to the school at five o’clock without having to kill time somewhere. When we kill time in my family, that usually means going out to eat somewhere, which we weren’t going to do, because, like I said before, free hot dogs.
So, this is the terrible plan I made for my children: I met them at the bus stop at a quarter till five and then we went back to the open house. In other words, my daughters rode the bus home in order for me to drive them back to school. Also, I drove home in order to go back out again.
This was the most awkward plan we’ve ever made.
I’m usually good at this. This is what I do! I’m the general. The Decider. I map out our days according to work, school, dance, meetings, social and gymnastic schedules and I give everyone their marching orders which are efficient, cooperative and save money on gas. Tuesday? Psssh, whatever. It all fell apart.
I drove home for forty minutes, my older daughter rode home from the middle school for an hour and a half, and my younger daughter hung out in bus hall for forty minutes, and rode the bus home for forty-five minutes, all in order for me to pick them up and drive back out to Frankford. It was awesome.
Actually, it really was. Like I said, there were hot dogs, along with chili and slaw, baked beans, pasta salad, lemonade and cookies! Luckily for the girls, their dad wasn’t there, because every single time he shows up at a school function, he happens to be wearing a Budweiser T-shirt.
The girls beg him to turn it inside out or go buy a new shirt or something, but he just gives his best Vinnie Barbarino, shrugging his shoulders with a juvenile “What?”
He can’t help it. A couple weekends ago, when we went to the East football game, he asked the poor band dad working the concession stand if they had any beer on draft. We all just acted like we didn’t know him, like we just found this man in the parking lot and thought he’d be the perfect guy to buy our snacks.
“What?” he said; he was just demonstrating his belief that the key to a proper upbringing is a little light humiliation from Dear Old Dad. Me? I like to just think of myself as The Hot Wife, you know, like in the movies when the beautiful lady has inexplicably married Clark Griswold. I just gazed at the poor band dad beatifically and ordered a Coke like a normal member of society.
That’s the costume we girls wore at the Frankford Open House, too: perfectly normal members of society, positive that this year is going to be the best ever, and of course we’re looking forward to the more strenuous third-grade work load. Would I like to volunteer for the Autumn Festival or to read aloud to the class once a week? Oh rats, would you look at the time? Gotta run!
When we got into the car, my conscience demanded to know why I don’t ever volunteer for the school, don’t I care about school spirit and community partnerships?
Sure, I thought, why do you think I brought the kids here tonight? Free hot dogs?
But I need to do more! Working and driving and scheduling is simply not enough!
And then, I found I had the perfect response to my inner critic, learned from the master himself: a casual shrug with an arrogant smirk, “What?”
And then, with a flick of the wrist, I turned the car out of the school parking lot and headed back home again.