I hate being late. I really really hate it. Being late is extremely disrespectful to whoever you are meeting. It is like saying “I have no problem wasting your time because your time is so much less valuable than mine”. Being chronically late is one of the more rude things you can do, in my opinion.
When I was young, I was never late. I respected people and treated their time as a precious commodity. I was so respectful of your time, that if you invited me to your party, I might just show up a little early, like before you’ve even finished getting ready. That way I could get you all to myself for an hour and then, when the people started arriving, I could go home and read a book because I was all partied out.
Yes, I was a party animal.
Then I started having children and I noticed something strange. I noticed that with every child we had, it became harder and harder to be early. Or even on time. This was a huge problem for me. A big part of the problem was that it wasn’t even the children who were causing us to be late. I was the one in charge of the show; the children were just following orders, for the most part. The real problem is that every time you give birth, you donate part of your brain to the baby. This means that after five babies, I’m lucky I can still tie my own shoes. There is no way I have enough brains left to coordinate seven people getting anywhere on time.
This was proven especially true yesterday.
Yesterday I was in charge of picking up Spitting Image from camp. Spitting Image absolutely adores camp. She is highly social and has managed to squeeze in four summer camps this year. Four summer camps would have had me rocking in a corner muttering to myself, but Spitting Image is very unlike me in the socialization department.
The first time I went to pick up Spitting Image from camp, I arrived just on time. Strangely enough, the parking lot was filled with cars but there was not a person to be seen. Wow! I thought. All of these parents are so respectful of everyone’s time! They are all exceptionally early! Then I walked into camp, smack in the middle of the closing ceremonies. I was late. I was exceptionally late. I had written down the wrong time and was over a half an hour late.
It was embarrassing and I promised Spitting Image that it would not happen again.
Yesterday, when I went to pick up Spitting Image, I triple checked the time. Then, I left at least fifteen minutes early. I knew I was going to be a little early, but just for good measure I drove eighty miles per hour the entire way there. Unless you are a police officer. If you are a police officer, I drove exactly five miles under the speed limit the entire way there.
Finally, after about an hour of
speeding driving, I approached the city limits. That is when the terrible thing happened. Just as I approached the city limits, I came upon at least a dozen semi trucks. Those things are big. Even bigger than my SUV. Those things are so big that I start to panic a little when I have to drive near them. When I have to drive near semi trucks, I am absolutely convinced that whatever vehicle I am driving is going to get sucked under the wheels of those massive things where I will then be crushed to death like a spider caught in the gears of Big Ben.
Wisely, I moved across two lanes of traffic and spent the next half hour focused on those trucks and not getting crushed in their wheels. After those thirty minutes had passed, it suddenly occurred to me that I should probably think about getting off the freeway. Like maybe I should have thought of it twenty minutes ago. It was at this point that I became aware of the sign telling me that I was just passing the last exit for the next twelve miles.
I wanted to be on time. I wanted to be respectful. It was not going to happen.
I drove the next twelve miles using all of the strength I had resisting the temptation to use those turn around things on the freeway. Those turn around things are only for police officers and snow plows. It’s an actual law. Nobody was going to believe that I was a snowplow on a 90 degree day and I looked every bit the hysterical mother that I was. Nothing like an undercover police officer.
I had twelve whole miles to panic about being late. Then, just as I was turning around, I received a text.
“Are you even going to pick me up?”
Ugh! I was late and now she knew it.
I’m not exactly sure how fast I drove from that point on, but I do know that the steering wheel was shaking.
When I finally arrived back to the town, I came upon my next challenge. I knew exactly what the exit I needed looked like from the other direction, but I had never arrived from this direction. In my panic, I had also completely forgotten the name of the road I needed. I had two choices. I could either drive all the way to the other side of the town and approach the exit from the way I was used to, or I could guess.
I guessed very wrong.
I drove around a very confusing town for about ten minutes before giving up and asking the lady on my phone for directions.
I said “Hey, Lady in my phone, please take me to the college hall.”
“Sure,” she said. “Your trip will take about eight minutes.”
I texted my exasperated 13 year old daughter. “I’m almost there!” I texted.
Eight minutes later I heard “You have arrived.”
I looked around. I had not arrived. I was not at the college hall. I was at the local mall. My phone had a hearing problem and I was done. I was ready to cry. Then I remembered that crying doesn’t make things go any faster.
I thought. I thought for a long time. Then I remembered something. The college hall that I was looking for was right next to the town hospital. I asked the lady in my phone, ever so politely, to take me to the hospital.
“Oh, that place!” she said “Yeah, that place is fifteen minutes from here.”
Defeated, I followed her directions. I followed them exactly as she said them, and lo and behold, I looked up and saw the college hall. The parking lot, in case you were wondering, was not filled with the cars of the respectful parents. The respectful parents were all at home with their campers eating dinner by now. There was only one camper left. My camper.
I was dying a little as I made the walk of shame up to the college hall to get her. I greeted her with a big hug and these words.
“I love you, and I promise you with all my heart that next time, your dad will pick you up.”