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Friday, January 26, 2007


This was a horrible day.

First, a little background.

I am really really really bad at getting to Michael's school functions. I missed a Mother's Day celebration once, early on. I was the only mom who didn't show. After that, Michael became semi-hysterical at any suggestion that I might not be able to come to a school event.

I am usually the last mom to arrive. This is partly because many of the others are stay-at-home moms, which is TOTALLY OKAY and I don't bear them any ill will. Still, it is tough. Events are usually held at lunch time, and I am usually late getting away from work. By the time I show up, all of the other moms are finishing their cucumber sandwiches and Michael is sitting over in the corner all by himself.

The last time there was a special lunch, I was about fifteen minutes late. It was an eat-lunch-with-your-kids event, and I did not have lunch because I had rushed out of the house that morning without packing one. I had packed Michael some leftover pancakes, because we were in a hurry and we were out of the usual lunch stuff. So picture the scene: Dozens of moms, sitting and eating with their kids in a Rockwellesque manner. And then I rush in and discover Michael sitting all alone and eating his pancakes. Worse, the teacher then passed out little sheets of paper and instructed us to write down what we had eaten and list which of the food groups each item was from, so we could easily tell if we had eaten a balanced meal. This was when I realized that all of the other parents had clearly known this was coming and taken great pains to pack extra-healthy items that followed the Canada Food Guide. Michael's lunch did not follow any country's food guide. Obviously, I missed one of the information sheets.

So I was determined not to screw up again.

Today was Family Literacy Day for Michael's entire school. Steve and I heard about it well in advance. We placed our pizza orders on Wednesday, as requested. We read the information sheets. Michael excitedly told us that we could have lunch anywhere in the entire school, and that he was going to pick a really special spot.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan. Steve was taking a course and would be able to leave for lunch. I was on my secret assignment, and I don't think I need to point out that of course everyone else was taking lunch and I would never be missed, plus it's not like I was doing anything over there anyway.

Steve and I made arrangements for him to pick me up at the undisclosed location, assuming he could find me with all of the other important people around. I had the cell phone so we could confirm the plan if needed. ("Turn right at the important woman in the red blazer. Then turn left at the important man with the hat.")

Then Steve's course ran late.

It was 12:05 when he picked me up. We got to the school at 12:15, found a nearby parking spot and ran to the door.

I think we were the last parents in the entire school to arrive. A long line had already formed at the cake table. We rushed down the hall and found Michael dejectedly putting on his coat so he could go outside for recess.

"You're late," he said.

It was true. And there was no excuse. I blinked back the tears and apologised.

Our pizza slices were on a plate labelled "Michael", covered with Saran wrap and set aside. It was the only plate that had been set aside.

Michael barely let go of my hand the rest of the time. We ate our pizza in the gym with other families who were finishing their cake. I blinked a lot.

We were too late for cake. Not that I wanted cake, but Michael did. Not that he really wanted cake, either, in the literal sense.


Anonymous said...

Left-over pancakes Meg? I bet a carrot woulda looked pretty good to him then, but I geuss you can't give him a peanut butter sandwich!