Jen's World: The not-so-glamorous drive to school
I grew up out in the country, in a split-level house next to acres of woods. We only lived about 3 miles from town, yet we were perfectly positioned so that my sisters and I were among the first kids on the bus in the morning and the last ones off in the afternoon.
Because we were stuck with an hour-long ride in either direction, I did everything I could to avoid getting on that big, yellow bus, knowing that my stay-at-home mom would grudgingly succumb to driving me if I "missed" it.
I woke up late. Drug my feet. Ambled over my Malt-O-Meal. Took too long finding my mittens or snow boots. Essentially, I did the exact same things that drive me crazy when my kids do them today.
My mom was on to my game, of course. She was a human alarm, set on "You're going to miss the bus!"
"Wake up! You're going to miss the bus!"
"Eat your breakfast! You're going to miss the bus!"
"Put your snow pants on on the way! You're going to miss the bus!"
I realize now that her insistence, her zealousness, in getting us on that bus had nothing to do with getting her daughters to school on time, but everything to do with her not having to get in that car and take us herself.
And not because she disliked driving. Or because it was a long ride. Or even because she was anxious to get rid of us (though that had to be true some days.) I believe it was mostly because she might see someone she knew. I know this because I have become my mother.
I write this column on a Monday morning at 8 a.m. I am wearing knit, brown socks that have lost their elastic. A pair of dark blue pajama bottoms with white polka dots and large, taupe splashes and streaks on them from when I painted the living room. The black T-shirt I wore to bed last night. And a long, red robe with a Scotty Dog embroidered on it, a gift from my mother-in-law circa 1999. Also, my hair is still crimped from last night's 80s party. I mean really crimped. Big.
And I just drove my son to school.
My husband, who is usually up and showered and ready for his day before my feet even hit the floor is our regular driver. But a freak roller skating accident (you can't make this stuff up) has put him out of commission for a couple of days. He's too busy sitting on an ice pack to get behind the wheel. Plus, he can hardly walk down the stairs and he can't bend over to save his life, so we're not sure driving is such a smart bet.
Today's drive fell to me.
And, like my mother before me, I looked down at my morning attire, sighed, stepped into a pair of slippers and slipped on a coat to cover my robe. (The coat, in this case, a hand-me-down that my dad won in a raffle featuring a moose and the words, "Saurdiff & Sons Trucking // Grygla, MN" sewn on it).
This is how I stepped out into the world today.
There, in my pajama bottoms and my robe and the jacket that hid none of it, I scraped the windshield, pausing only to wave to my neighbor. And then I drove that kid to school.
It's not far. The drop-off is a fairly well-oiled machine. And with the jacket on, I could fake some level of dress. The only thing giving me away would be the wild shock of crimped hair standing a good six inches off my head in every direction.
But I figured that at 7:20 a.m., all those perfectly dressed, perfectly coifed parents on their way to work probably haven't had enough coffee to pay attention to who's in the car next to them.
I made it home, certain I'd gone undetected. Then, just as I cozied up to my computer to write this column, my friend Brook sent this message: "I just drove right by you on Broadway and you never once looked over at me. We were neck and neck from Northern Heights Drive until Bowlocity."
She didn't mention the hair.
But you know she was thinking it.