I wrote in a frenzy from 10 a.m. to 1:00p.m., then lay down for a nap before zooming to fetch my 3rd grader from school, but my iPhone was on mute, so I didn’t hear the alarm, but I did hear, fortunately, a buzzing when my son phoned on his Gizmo to politely ask my whereabouts. I swallowed my panic and leapt out of bed telling my son to please stay in the schoolyard and I yanked on a summer dress–because it’s still summer here, in October, in this perpetually heat-swathed, dust-worsening valley of mine–and made my son an apple juice ‘sippy’ and bolted for the minivan. On driving to the school, I suddenly remembered I had signed my son up for after school services run by Coach Sammy, who leads the kids in activities, so I called my son’s gizmo (I press a button on the steering wheel, issue a command and voila–you know all about hands-free phonage in minivans, I know, but I never cease to be thrilled by it and so I point it out ad nauseum because I can’t get over the so very ‘I Robot’, futuristic-but-here-now aspect of it) and told him to take advantage of the after school services. Mom, he asked. Where ARE you? And I swallowed my panic and sing-songed about finding Coach Sammy and pressed the disconnect button on the steering wheel as I sped for the freeway and seconds later my son called me back and said Coach Sammy wouldn’t let him play because he wasn’t signed up for the after school services. So I told my son to go to the office and tell them to tell Coach Sammy that he was indeed signed up and allowed to play and he did this and called me back and now it was all just too much and he was teary. Mom, he choked out. They gave me a contract for you to sign. Fortunately I was pulling up to the school at that point, so I grabbed the apple juice and flew into the yard and quickly wrapped my arms around my son. I just wanted to play, he said, devastated, handing me the same contract I had already filled out and submitted, so I marched us into the office and asked the fearsome duo oh-so-nicely–having already let them know from previous encounters that I am one of the good moms, the reasonable moms, a mom who would, one day, bring them homemade granola to compensate for the fact that they are wounded daily by callous parents, hence their stern caution–I’m saying they will never eat out of anyone’s hand, don’t even try it, not even with homemade granola, just give them the homemade granola and run–I asked the fearsome duo why my son couldn’t play and they had no clue and they (sternly–they’ve been wounded!) suggested I speak with Coach Sammy, to which I replied–calmly, as though I’d downed a Zen pill–GREAT IDEA and off my son and I went, back into the schoolyard and we found Coach Sammy who is sweet and super tall and very athletic and, it turns out, great with kids, and after he shook hands with not just me, but my son, and after Coach Sammy assured my son that in the future he can come and play anytime, we left the school for a math tutoring session and by now my son had perked up, no tears glistened in his blue eyes, and as we walked along Ventura Blvd. to Mathnasium he was all chatty about his day and then a car zoomed by us and some kids in it shouted out their wide open windows (who has wide open windows in 90 degree October heat???): WOO SEXY MAMA and honked their horn and when I turned to look, aghast, at the car, the driver flipped me the bird. Mom? my son asked. What was that? Were those guys being stupid jerks? And I snapped back into the world and suggested to my son that calling anyone ‘stupid jerks’ is probably not the best we can do, that calling them silly boys is probably better, because maybe they actually donate some of their time to feeding the homeless, maybe their parents recently released the silly boys from a period of intense grounding and the boys forgot their manners because they were so happy to be free on the open road, er, or free on Ventura Blvd., or something like that. I think I said something like that, I don’t even know anymore, I was so shocked that any boys would behave so inappropriately to a mom holding her son’s hand, that any boys would attempt to degrade a mom in front of her kid and of course secretly I thought the silly boys were on drugs. Because WTF. I even HOPED they were on drugs and not actually boneheads in real life–although of course being on drugs and zooming along Ventura Blvd., I would never wish anyone would do such a stupid jerk thing. I tried to remain hopeful. Because I felt rage. Hope is the thing with feathers, as we know, thanks to Emily Dickinson. I ushered my son into the tutoring place and went and sat in the minivan, recovering, unaware I’d slammed a good portion of my blue sundress in the door. What have I learned from this day?
I will never mute my cell phone again.