Christina M. Currie: Playing it by ear
Let me tell you about last week. At least the pieces I remember, because most of it was a blur.
On Tuesday morning, I went to make sure my 7-year-old daughter was awake and getting dressed, because, despite the fact that we go through the same routine every day, if you don’t check at least twice, kids (at least mine) forget what they are supposed to be doing.
She was struggling into a shirt that was too small, and I suggested a change was in order.
“But mom, I have to wear white or yellow or orange,” she said, a crisis brewing.
Huh? Nikki rarely is concerned about her appearance.
“My play is today.”
Oh God. Shouldn’t the school be communicating something like this?
“I left the note on the bus,” Nikki said.
I can handle this. I pulled out the white shirt that I bought at the beginning of the school year for just such an occasion.
It still had the tags. I wasn’t going to chance that it would be in the laundry or under someone’s bed when they needed a white shirt for a field trip or an art project or that performance that you weren’t fully aware of.
The biggest problem? I had a day. You know, the ones where you don’t even consider lunch an option.
“Do you know what time your play is?” I asked, gritting my teeth and already working out the possibilities – or lack thereof.
“6 a.m.,” she told me.
I assumed she still was working on the differences between ante and post meridiem, but that was something we could discuss later.
My problem was that I had 5:30 and 7 p.m. appointments, and there was no way I could get out of them.
So, I dressed her in performance-wear and didn’t just drop her off at school, I walked her in.
I found her teacher and asked, “What time is their performance today?”
Nothing makes you feel like a worse parent than asking your child’s teacher – on the day of the play – whether there’s really a play.
Nikki was mostly right. It was 6. But the 6 was 12 hours later and a hundred times less doable than the a.m. version.
I asked, “What time are they doing the performance for the other students?”
Of course 9:30. Why wouldn’t it be 9:30? I had an hour-and-a-half meeting scheduled at 9. In reality, I could fit in a play between 11 and noon or between three and four.
But, I didn’t get to make that call, and if there’s one thing any parent knows, you don’t miss a school play.
So, I promised Nikki that I’d be there and lined up a friend to take her to the evening play and marvel at her performance. Then, I flew into, and spent exactly 22 minutes at, my 9 a.m. meeting.
I used four minutes to explain why I was so incredibly sorry, but I had to move my report to the beginning of the agenda, and would be leaving shortly, despite the fact that the day before I’d confirmed that was a good time for me.
Then, I watched Nikki as she filed on to the risers.
Her eyes darted across the audience in search of her fans. Her relief was intense when she found me waving frantically from the back of the room.
And at that moment, not one single meeting mattered.
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