Time and I have never been very friendly. In fact, we’re barely on speaking terms.
I am perpetually late for most of my life, so my friends and family have pretty much given up hope that I might walk through a door on time. And if I were to ever be early, they would surely search the skies for the fire and brimstone bound to appear.
If timeliness is a virtue, I am a very unvirtuous woman.
Which is why I was anxiety-ridden about the first day of school. Sure, I was a bit nervous about my eldest, Josie, starting her very first day of kindergarten. But the root of my anxiety was the fact that kindergarten in our neighborhood Virginia Beach public school begins one full hour earlier—at 8:00 a.m.—than the 9:00 start time her preschool had been. It took almost two years for me to finally get that girl to preschool by the allotted time. How on earth was I going to move our morning routine up by one whole hour?
Intent on getting Josie to school not just on time, but early, for her very first day, I set the alarm for the crack of dawn. Hubby, Jimmy, in a show of extremely little faith in me, took the morning off of work. Things ran pretty smoothly. Dressing, toothbrushing, breakfasting, snack packing, and before I knew it, we were out the door. Josie and I walked while little sister, Nora, got to ride in a push car. We joined a stream of children and parents all making their way to the first day of elementary school. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Good,” I thought, “if these people are walking, then there’s no way I’m late!”
Two blocks later, we were passing the cafeteria entrance of the school. Parents in cars were dropping their kids off at this door, but we pressed on. Passing the main entrance, we worked our way to a door on the far corner of the building. This was the entrance closest to the kindergarten rooms and the one used by the children coming in from the school busses. During the Kindergarten Open House the week before, this seemed to be the preferred form of entrance for the walking students as well.
I snapped a few photos of my little girl taking her first steps into that great big school, then heard the bell ring a few minutes later. Success! She made it by 8 a.m. with time to spare! One day down, one hun-... no, two hund-... well, a whole bunch more to go!
But alas, I think my first day’s success left me a bit too cocky. I went into Day Two totally confident that we would cruise our way to school by 8:00. Hubby took off for work at his usual early hour. He should have known better than to trust me to make this work two days in a row.
The whole morning turned out to be a comedy of errors. Little Nora spent ten precious minutes in the bathroom trying to poop (she didn’t), and Josie spent ten minutes we couldn’t spare trying to find her shoes (she didn’t). And neither was going to cooperate with any part of our morning routine.
Finally, we were out the door. “Come on, Josie!” I yelled back, looking at the clock on my phone. “It’s 7:45. We should still be all right!”
But the street was deserted, eerily deserted, like in some sort of horror movie. Did I have the time wrong? Did school actually start at 7:45 and I just screwed up? Where is everyone???
We arrived at the school parking lot just as the busses were leaving. “OK, good,” I thought, “school hasn’t started yet.” We worked our way over to that same kindergarten door in the far corner. I grabbed the handle and pulled.
It was locked.
I looked at my trusty phone. 7:55 a.m. How could they be locked already? The realization hit me like a brick. Of course they’d lock it after the busses leave. They don’t want random people just walking in!
We high-tailed it to the main entrance.
There were two school employees standing at a desk just inside the doors, policing everyone that entered.
“Oh, you have to be on time!” one woman scolded me, “Otherwise I have to give her a tardy slip!”
“Well, I tried to take her to the bus doors first, but they were locked,” I hurriedly explained, still holding onto the dream of Josie making it to class on time.
“Yes, they lock those doors after the busses leave,” said the other woman.
“Well, yes, I figured that’s what happened,” I replied, doing my best not to get snotty with her.
“We have to check-in everyone that comes in,” she went on. “Tomorrow, get there by 8:00 and the doors will be open.”
“But....but.....” I wanted to slap the grandmotherly smile off her face while screaming at her that it was 7:55 a.m. according to the infallible clock provided by my cellular service, but I just did not have that sort of time to spare. “Do I need a badge or something?” I finally blurted out.
Badge firmly clipped to my lapel, we stormed the halls of the elementary school until Josie was safely inside her classroom....about a minute and a half after the bell rang.
Leaving the building, I tossed my badge back into the basket. The grandmotherly woman, in her helpful demeanor, gave me one last reminder on my way out, “Be sure to be at those doors before 8:00!”
“And I hope you have a nice day!” I lied.
About a block away I ran into a couple of other moms chatting and joined in their conversation. Knowing they were Kindergarten Mom Veterans (their girls are now in First Grade), I posed the question, “Am I supposed to walk Josie all the way over to those bus doors?”
“Oh, no!” they answered. “Take her to the cafeteria door and drop her off there. That’s much closer!”
Yes, Father Time, you may have won the Battle of Day Two, but you will not win the Kindergarten War!
Jennifer Tackett-Hilton is a Virginia Beach transplant (originally from Iowa) and Old Dominion University graduate who swore she'd never date a Navy man.... but never said she wouldn't marry one! Jennifer and her Prince Charming have two adorable (and precocious!) princesses, ages 2 and 5, and one furry pooch, Eddie.
In the (precious little) spare time she has, she enjoys crafting, shopping for new craft supplies, and writing on her blogs, EverAfterLand.com and JenEverAfter.com. You can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/everafterland and follow her on http://twitter.com/jeneverafter and http://pinterest.com/jeneverafter.