Last week, while Benjamin was traveling, things got a little overwhelming. I was running a training event at work which meant that instead of working from home, as I do most days, I was schlepping to and from the office in rush hour. Since Benjamin was gone, I was also responsible for daycare pickup, drop off, making breakfast, lunch and dinner, and keeping up on things like laundry and dishes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I don’t know how single parents do it. It’s A LOT.
Anyway, on the last day before Benjamin was coming home, my schedule was particularly tight. No matter how I sliced it, I was going to be late to work, even if I dropped Owen off at daycare the minute they opened, and I was going to be late to pick Owen up even if I left my last work event early. And late I was. On both counts. And if you know me, you know that being late is one of the things that drives me CRAZY. “Better late than never” isn’t necessarily true in my book. And never wasn’t an option.
So I left work, late, and knew I was going to hit nasty traffic on my way to get Owen. Unfortunately, I also got in the car to see this:
While sitting in traffic I debated long and hard about just how many miles are actually left in the gas tank when it says empty and could I just make it to daycare first and then find a gas station. Blah blah blah. All terrible ideas. Especially for someone who has run out of gas 2 times already in her relatively short life. I was pretty much already running on fumes and was going less than 5 miles an hour in traffic. I was going to be a whole lot later if I ran out of gas in the middle of the road, so I pulled off at a random exit and went on the search for gas and a non-highway route to Owen’s daycare.
It took me 1.5 hours. He was the last kid there. Thankfully, miraculously, I was still a few minutes shy of the actual closing time, so I didn’t have to pay any late fees. But we were so late for dinner and the dog hadn’t gone out to pee since 7am; I felt guilty enough without paying, believe me.
So we got home. I kicked off my heels and rushed around and let the dog out and threw dinner on the stove and tried to read Owen a book all at the same time. Not surprisingly, I got distracted while cooking and the pan started smoking and our fire alarms started BLARING.
Owen froze. He stared at me with wide eyes, glistening with tears. I jumped up, opened all of the doors and windows, grabbed a counter stool and stood on it, waving a dishtowel at the smoke detector. It would stop for a minute and then start beeping again, just as I had gotten down and started to tell Owen it was all over. I was ready to rip the darn thing out of the ceiling, but they are hard-wired into our new house and I was too short, even standing on a stool. So I hopped back up on the stool and kept waving that stupid towel. As I’m teetering on the stool, crying toddler at my feet, neighbors start coming out of their houses, one by one, to see what the noise is. Since all of the doors and windows were open, they just stood there. Watching me. One or two of them waved at me, and I waved back, embarrassed. One even gave me a thumbs up. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, MISTER? THIS IS NOT A THUMBS UP SITUATION. I think they didn’t know whether they should come in and help, or if that would make me even more embarrassed… because, there isn’t really much you can do at that point except clear the air, and I was doing all that I could to do that on my own.
But still, people. Standing in the road and watching me look like a fool DOES NOT HELP.
Finally our next door neighbors who are very close friends came over. After also trying to rip the alarms out of the ceiling (impossible, apparently), we realized that it was the smoke detectors in the UPSTAIRS hallway that were causing the alarm to keep going back on. I had opened all of the windows and doors on the first floor, but apparently the smoke (what LITTLE there was… this was not the major kitchen catastrophe that it sounds like!) had traveled upstairs, where all of the windows were shut.
FINALLY we opened the windows, stopped the beeping, and found something to feed Owen for dinner.
Except that now Owen is terrified of the smoke alarms and won’t stop talking about them. Every morning he wakes up, points to them in the ceiling and says, “Beepin! LOUD! ‘Hmoke! Owen ‘cared.”.
Waaaaaaaaah. I’ve scarred my kid for life.