*Note: Having finished writing this behemoth of a post, I would like to come back to the beginning to point out to my Mother that she asked for this…*
So, yesterday afternoon, just before I left work, I started writing a funny little blog post about how the Peanut suddenly replaced her favorite orange corduroy stuffed animal (affectionately called “my Buddy,”) with an old bear of Ms. B’s. I was going to say something funny about how fickle the heart of a two-year-old is. (It was a jarringly fast switch in allegiance; a transfer of power that occurred in the final minute before leaving the house one morning. I kept asking the Peanut, “but, WHAT about BUDDY?!”) As I shut down my computer for the night I was considering rewriting the post to be a ‘Dear John” letter from the Peanut to Buddy. That might be cute.
I was coming off of a particularly trying day at work, but normally Tuesdays are a pretty good day for me. On Tuesdays I leave work a half hour early because I have a kickboxing class at the gym I like to attend. Double bonus: Thirty minutes less work, and a chance to punch out any stress I have from the day. But as I pulled in to the Peanut’s daycare, my cellphone started to ring. It was Ms. B. And from that moment on, the evening was nothing but straight up chaos.
I should back up a half step. Generally, Ms. B.’s grades are fine, but in one course we’ve decided she needs to stay after school once or twice a week for some extra assistance. This works out okay because the school has this wonderful thing known as “the late bus” that Ms. B. can take home after tutoring. Except, EXCEPT, the bus driver keeps not letting Ms. B. on the bus because she’s a transfer. Half the people we talk to say, no, the driver is wrong, Ms. B. can take the bus. And half the people we talk to can only tell us that it is “district policy,” but nothing more. Obscenely frustrating.
So, back to my cell phone ringing. I look at the clock and it’s 4:45 and I just know it’s Ms. B. calling to tell me the driver wouldn’t let her on the bus again, even though both the school and the bus company told us just the day before that she absolutely could ride the bus.
I answer and am on the phone as I walk in to the Peanut’s classroom. I try to stand inconspicuously in the corner while I talk to a tearful Ms. B. (“Put the driver on the phone.” “She won’t talk to you.” “Well, you tell HER that her BOSS told us YESTERDAY that you can get on that bus…” “I feel like a freak…”) But the kids at the daycare seem to have a Mom radar. (“Alert, Alert, a mommy has entered the building.”) As I’m huddled in a corner on the phone, a cluster of two-year olds start to try and climb my legs while the Peanut yells “My Mommy!” and tries to body block any kid who dares to touch me.
I’ve got Ms. B. crying in my ear and the Peanut crying at my feet, a whole slew of unknown two-year olds crying because I’m not their mommy and could I please take them home anyway, and a teacher trying to pry little bodies off of my legs while telling me something that I probably should be paying attention to about the Peanut’s day, and it was all too much. “I’m picking up your sister right now, and then I’m coming to get you. I’ve gotta go,” I snap at Ms. B. before hanging up. I almost immediately get a call from D saying he will take care of Ms. B. and doesn’t the bus driver make me furious? Yes. Yes, she does.
I gather the Peanut, and her jacket, and some papers and clothes and that cursed bear that replaced poor Buddy, slipping my phone under my arm so I could juggle everything, and try to herd the Peanut out the door. As soon as I open the car door I have to drop everything because the Peanut starts running out into the middle of the parking lot. She’s running into the parking lot because she feels oddly compelled to pick up every piece of trash within the entire Kansas City metropolitan area. We have a brief discussion about parking lot safety and how that trash was yucky anyway before I buckle her in her car seat. The Peanut cries over her lost opportunity to throw that crushed Sonic cup in the trash. Like it was the last Sonic cup on the planet. Like we would never be able to experience the joy of throwing something away EVER AGAIN.
On the drive home the Peanut sniffles while I have fierce imagined conversations with some vague person of authority at the school, at the bus company, with Channel 4’s “Problem Solvers,” about how they were going to let my child onto that ‘effing late bus or they would learn just how loud and how far I can scream. I’m so busy winning hypothetical arguments in my head that it’s not until I pull in the driveway that I realize: I don’t know where my phone is.
I sort through my work belongings and the Peanut’s stuff in the back seat, sure I would find the phone wrapped up in the Peanut’s sweatshirt or between a stack of finger paintings. But it’s not there. I’m a little worried, but not panicked yet.
As the Peanut and I start walking up to the front door she starts chanting, “No, no, no!” “What’s wrong?!” I ask. The Peanut’s “No”s just become more frantic as I try to open the screen door. As she continues to wail “No,” and I say inane things like “Use some words to tell Mommy what’s wrong,” she throws her weight against the screen door, slamming it shut against my arm. And for the second time in less than an hour I drop everything I am carrying.
I try not to swear in front of the Peanut as I shake the pain from my arm and gather up everything, scoop the Peanut up and stumble through the door. All worries forgotten (just like that!) the Peanut runs off to play in her room while I sort through everything, making one last effort to find my phone. It’s not there. I’m starting to worry. I mean, there were only so many places it could be between the door of the daycare and the door of my house. I remember it being under my arm when I walked out of the daycare. If it’s not in the car, not with my stuff, where could it be?
I log on to Apple’s website and pull up the service to locate my phone. With my first login, Apple tells me that I don’t have a device registered with that ID. This is when I really start to panic. WHY would Apple not recognize that I even HAVE a phone? I go change my clothes for kickboxing and am sitting down to login again when D walks in. D’s talking about his most recent phone call with the bus company and griping about their “district policy.” The Peanut is yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” (because, you know, D coming in the door is like the second coming of Christ around here). Ms. B’s huffing and stomping around the kitchen like the injured seventh grader that she is. Everyone’s talking at once.
(Brief side story: The other night at dinner Ms. B. was asking us about God and about how we don’t physically hear him speaking. “Maybe he is speaking, it’s just so quiet we don’t hear,” D countered. I interrupted: “Like, maybe he’s listening to our dinners every night and saying, (whispered), “I really need ya’ll to please stop interrupting each other…”)
It takes D a moment to realize that I might be dealing with a new, separate crisis. “What are you doing?” he asks, peering over my shoulder. By this point Apple is now telling me they know I have an iPhone, but that they can’t locate it. “WHY can’t Apple find my phone?!” I ask. At this point I’m really panicking because I’m secretly thinking, “Maybe Apple can’t find my phone because I dropped it in the parking lot at the daycare and there IS no phone anymore because it’s in a million little pieces under someone’s tire…”
D is insultingly calm about all of this. Probably because he doesn’t know yet that I think the phone is in pieces. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s turned off?” he suggests. “It is NOT turned off,” I quickly snap back. He throws his hands up in mock surrender. “Look, it’s around some where. I’ll call it. Go to the gym. You’ll feel better.”
He’s so damn rational, it’s infuriating. I snatch my keys off the counter. But I don’t go to the gym. I go to my car and tear it apart looking for my phone. It’s not there. D meets me at the front door. “You’re not at they gym,” he blandly observes.
“I can’t. I just can’t. I know I’ve lost my phone. Can I borrow yours for a second?” I call the daycare and ask the front desk if they can just look in their parking lot and tell me if there is an iPhone smooshed into the pavement. They look. It’s not there.
Two new alternatives cross my mind: (1) It WAS in the daycare parking lot and was picked up by someone with less than honorable intentions, in which case I have marching orders from my employer to immediately have the phone wiped, or (2) I set it on the roof of my car when I dropped everything to run after the Peanut, and there it rode until it fell off and was crushed on Shawnee Mission Parkway.
I explain my theories to D and he agrees to ride with me along my route to the daycare to see if we can find a phone carcass along the side of the road. We order the girls a pizza and leave Ms. B in charge. We drive in silence for a moment while I mentally berate myself for being so stupid and losing the phone and worry about the cost of having to replace it.
“So, last week you thought you lost your wallet,” D says. (I did. It was between the couch cushions…Stop it. I know.) “And this week it’s your phone. So, you tell me. What in your life is out of balance?” He’s teasing me. When, almost a decade ago, we were going through a rough patch in our relationship and D had a series of seemingly random physical injuries, I told him it was the Universe trying to tell him his life was out of balance and he needed to get his priorities straight. What I meant was, “I’m right and the entire Universe knows it. So quit being an ass.” We still tease each other about it.
I don’t answer him right away. But when he looks over at me, tears are running down my cheeks. The day has started catching up with me. “Hey… hey… what’s this?” D asks, putting his hand over mine.
“I’m SO sorry!” I sniffle. “You’re right. I am out of balance. I’m trying to do 8,000 things all at the same time and I’m doing a shit job at all of them. And it’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to the girls and it’s not fair to my clients and it’s not fair to my coworkers…”
“Stop it.” He says. “None of that’s true. How long have you felt this way?”
“Just today… Every day… I don’t know.”
“Shh. I know none of that is true.” D soothes.
There’s no phone carcass on Shawnee Mission Parkway. We pull back in to the driveway and D decides to try calling the phone one last time. I get out to talk to the girls who are on the front steps. The Peanut’s hair is wild, her face is smeared with dirt and pizza sauce, and she’s wearing nothing but a t-shirt and a pair of underpants. I’m trying to decide how much I care that she looks like she belongs in a trailer park (sorry, I know. Terribly un-PC of me) when D gets out of the car.
“I found it. And you can go get it all by yourself,” he announces as he hands me a piece of paper with an address two blocks up the street on it. He goes inside to eat his dinner while I go to collect my phone from a good Samaritan who found it on the side of Shawnee Mission Parkway. Near as I can tell, the phone was on the roof of my car and stuck along for the ride until I was almost at the house. It’s a little dirty and scuffed up, but still functional, thank the sweet baby Jesus.
When I get home, I slide in to a chair at the table and start eating a piece of pizza with D who is formulating a plan of attack for how we are going to get Ms. B on what will forevermore be known as “that ‘effing late bus.” From my seat I can see Ms. B in her room, doing her homework, and can also see straight up the stairs where the Peanut is walking around, now wearing nothing but her t-shirt, no underpants.
“Um, do you know our child is walking around with no underpants?” I ask D.
“She says she’s using the potty, and she wants to do it upstairs and she wants ‘privacy,’ whatever that means to a two-year-old.” D explains as he bites into his pizza.
“Mommy! I’m going potty!” the Peanut yells down the stairs as she turns to walk in to the bathroom.
“That’s great!” I start to say. But before I can even finish, before the Peanut can even get all the way into the bathroom, I see her squat down and, in horror, watch a little brown turd fall onto the floor. What the crap? (literally?!) She was less than two feet from a toilet and she poops on the floor?!
“Poop!” I splutter. “She’s pooping!” D and I are up the stairs in a flash, the Peanut’s bottom is planted firmly on the toilet, and her ‘misplaced’ poop is cleaned up. D and I sit on the hallway floor, side by side, as the Peanut finishes up, giving us a play-by-play of everything she is doing. As the Peanut chirps, “I’m pooping,” I put my head down on my knees and just start laughing. My child just pooped on the floor. It seems a fitting ending to the evening.
“It’s a good thing two-year-olds are so cute…” I start.
“Otherwise we’d have to kill ’em?” D finishes.
I take D’s hand and give him a kiss in that spot just below his ear that I know he likes. “You make everything better,” I say. “I’m afraid I’ve unwittingly become co-dependent. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“All part of my master plan, my dear.” He says with a squeeze of his hand. “All part of my master plan.”