Yesterday, I got a postcard in the mail. It was from my veterinarian reminding me that my cat needs to have her teeth cleaned. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Maybe after I put all the baby pictures into albums and take down the Christmas lights. I mean I can’t get myself to the dentist twice a year – let alone my cat!
I love the cat, but tending to her dental hygiene is not at the top of my “to-do” list. Right now, my list is topped with driving my kids to soccer practice and Little League games and piano recitals and swimming lessons and fifth-grade play rehearsal. In between, we squeeze in checkups for summer camp, orthodontist appointments, shoe shopping, returning overdue videos, looking for missing library books, parent/teacher conferences, birthday parties, running to the drugstore at 11 p.m. for emergency poster board and ... oh, yeah, school and work. Even Daylight Savings Time doesn’t save enough time to get everything done. So the cat’s teeth go unscraped.
From September to mid-May, we’re busy. But in June, when everything comes to a thrilling end-of-the-school-year crescendo, the schedule gets kicked up a notch and we go from being merely active to being actively out-of-control.
Having three kids has seriously compromised my mental faculties, so I need to write everything down. That means that in this age of handheld electronic devices, I am a slave to the big paper calendar that hangs on the kitchen wall. Every appointment, rehearsal and practice is represented by cryptic notes detailing who, what, where and when. “5P/Sphs” means that my daughter Perry has soccer practice at the high school at 5 p.m. “L/CWDRtights!” reminds me that Lewis has a dress rehearsal for the play Charlotte’s Web and that he needs to wear tights. “PS/$5” means that the permission slip is due for the field trip to the fish hatchery (“My mom can drive!”).
But it’s the stuff that’s not on the calendar that really puts me over the edge.
“Mom, I need a black skirt for the concert tonight!” my daughter wails at 4 p.m.
“Mom, we’re supposed to bring cupcakes for the cast party. Pink ones,” my son says as we are headed to the final performance.
“Mom! Our team won the division so now we go to the regionals! I told my coach you could drive.”
While the kids are happily flitting from one enriching experience to the next, my role is mainly to drive and wait. I drive to the school and wait outside for chorus practice to end. I drive to the soccer field in the rain and wait for them to call the game. I drive my daughter to piano lessons, drop off my son at play rehearsal and promise that somehow I will pick them both up at 4:30.
The kids change their clothes in the car as we rush from one activity to the next. Family dinners have been replaced with a bagel in the backseat and conversation is reduced to a barrage of questions as we race out the door:
“Do you have your cleats?”
“Are we picking up Jason?”
“Where’s my script?”
“Do I have to wear tights?”
Yesterday, as I penciled in another reminder on the June calendar – “5thGRD” (fifth-grade graduation) – I peeked ahead to July and breathed a sigh of relief. There, just a page away, are gloriously blank summer days. No soccer, no play rehearsals, no Little League, no chorus. Everything just ends. The page is empty except for a freshly penciled note near the end of the month that cryptically reads “8am/CatDent.”
Carol Band’s cat and kids brush after every meal. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.