I had better type fast or I might reconsider posting this. Here goes my moment of candor (for better or for worse):
Reason #260 of why you shouldn’t be getting homeschool advice from my blog…
My mind has been a jumbled mess lately. I’m sure you can tell with posts titled “drowning” and such nonsense. January is not a kind month for ADD perfectionists who live in a self-induced checklist haze. All this to set the scene for my wandering mind at dinner time tonight. Here’s how events unfolded…
Tonight after 5pm my mom came home from teaching piano (she stays with me a couple days each week) to ask me “what’s for dinner”. I was buried under a pile of papers I had put off grading during the holidays (OK – even some from before the holidays). We were still doing school at the table. I didn’t want to cook. In fact, I think I would have rather eaten the stale holiday popcorn than cook… or the rotten Oreo balls.
I sheepishly called my husband (who worked hard all day and was in 6:00 traffic on his way home – for 30 miles). He wondered aloud why we needed to eat out (again) after last night’s nasty Mcburgers that we scarfed down after Wednesday night Bible Class (another crock-pot opportunity missed). This week hasn’t been about adding jewels to my domestic crown, that’s for certain – Mistake #1.
We agreed on Chick-Fil-A (partly due to the children screaming in my other ear after I mumbled ‘you want to go to Chick-Fil-A?’ to him aloud). Mistake #2. We loaded up the car and planned to meet him there so he wouldn’t have to drive all the way home first.
I met Kev at the restaurant (can you even call it a restaurant?). Upon entering my son began asking me deep questions (at this point I can’t even remember what the discussion was about – as he has a habit of coming up with mind-warping conversation at inconvenient moments). My thinkbox was half on the papers I still had to grade, half on how hungry I was, half on the field trip I forgot to set up for the co-op, half on the emails that I was sure were piling up since I spent all day at the kitchen table… etc. Add answering questions from a ten year old to that list and you have a recipe for disaster. Mistake #3.
Lost in conversation and thought, I sauntered up to the Chick-Fil-A counter with the rest of the family. No brain necessary to order something you have ordered 18,000 other times, right? No need for formalities. At the counter there is a tray full of food ready and waiting. I reach out to grab a fry (as if I was at my grandma’s house and she were talking to me while she cooked… only my grandma died in 1995 and the fries were SOMEONE ELSE’S FOOD).
We hadn’t ordered yet, people. Or paid. Or even said a word yet to the teenagers waiting behind the counter… who are ALL staring at me.
This was all happening in slow motion. My fingers snatched a fry off of someone else’s tray as if it weren’t even attached to my arm. Suddenly I realize that I have four teenagers paying very close attention to me – looks of horror are spreading across their shiny faces. Still, no one has said a word.
I hear my middle name being said in disgust from behind. It was like that Sprint commercial… the slow motion pin dropping. You could have heard one.
The thought FINALLY processed that I was grabbing a fry off of someone else’s tray. I let go of the fry and set it back down in shock.
[Later at the table my mom told me that putting it back was worse than eating it. Looking back, i would have to agree. Especially since they didn't remove it - they went ahead and served that fry to the customer! ACK!]
Back to the story…
I stammered… “OH! I’m sorry! I thought that was my food!”
The teen behind the counter smiled at me incredulously and said, “Well, I kind of thought – man, whatever works for you.”
There was uncomfortable laughter (mostly from my poor embarrassed husband). We commenced ordering our meal. Our smug cashier smiles and hands us our tray “Now THESE ARE your fries.” he says.
“Fry-Toucher!” my son snickers, looking up at me with a wicked smirk on his face.
We die laughing all the way to the table. There were more jokes told and reminders shared about the many other eating establishments in the area that I had left either my purse or cell phone at. My mom warned my children during this chatter to ‘always pay attention’ to me when we are out in public or I might leave them instead of my purse.
My son piped up to tattle on me to my mother. “She already has left me.”
Luckily, I already confessed this to her after it happened. Yeah, I left my kid at a bus stop in downtown Arkansas. I bet you can’t top that one. We didn’t get far down the road before I realized that he wasn’t there and went into mass panic. The trolley driver said he couldn’t stop, but when he took one look at my crazed expression and saw me walking down to the step anyway, he finally relented. The kid had been watching the ants and wasn’t paying attention to the bus take off (with his parents, sister, and the family of 6 that came to visit us on it). Mom – yours truly – was busy taking photos.
That has to be the worst parenting moment of my entire life.
But back to the fries…
You see… I tell this story for two reasons. One – because I want to remember it. No telling how long my memory will last since I am capable of such embarrassing blog fodder. It is pretty funny, after all. We all got a kick out of it after my case of hives went away. Two – because I need to explain to you that I AM NOT PERFECT and neither are my kids (well, at least the one like me, not “Mini-Martha-Stewart”). I can’t blame my son for living in a fog. He was born in the same swamp that his mama came from. Or was it a turnip truck we fell off of? This is the stuff that daydreamers and lollygaggers are made of. At least my kid has a parent that understands what it was like to have her mom threaten to staple things to her and have to go to the principal’s office after a SOLID THREE MONTHS of me forgetting to flip my attendance card on the way in to the school building. I was a high maintenance kid. I deserve to raise one!
As we were getting up to leave, my mom asked, “Do you want the rest of my fries?”
“No” I smiled, “I just want to touch them before you eat them.”
You have to be able to laugh at yourself… and with your kids. I guess you have to let your kids laugh at YOU as well. At least that is how things usually turn out at my house: the kids laughing at ME. This is especially true if either or all of you are prone to flaking out or have ever gone by the nickname “Space Ace”.
So there you have it… the “Fry Toucher” is as human as any other homeschool mom. So don’t go putting me on some kind of pedestal. Yes, sometimes I wonder why my kids are so smart. It must have A LOT more to do with God than me. I’m living proof that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to homeschool.
[It does help to teach your kids their address and phone number, though. Oh, and just try to keep me away from your fries if we ever get together for a field trip, OK?!]