Friday was a joke at eleven o’clock in the morning and I didn’t reach the punchline until four-thirty.

Let me tell you a horrible story. It will make you laugh and feel better about your week, I promise.

It began when I decided to become a mother. Then, this morning, I had three kids and we were all doing the breakfast thing and getting Boy ready for school.

I bargained for the car because I was hoping to get over to the big supermarket to restock a seriously dwindled pantry. I needed more groceries than I can carry home on a stroller.

So, after we got the Boy and Dad off to their workdays the littles and I headed to the Safeway on Ocean Beach.

The waves were cresting and the long slivers of beachy tan and ocean blue were beautiful under the slate grey sky.

The shopping trip was going great. I mean, I realized I should’ve saved myself the trouble and done an online order, but we were having fun. And then I ran into another Mom from my son’s kindergarten class.

“Will I see you at the soccer practice tonight?” she asked.

“Tonight?” I said, “I thought soccer practice started next week?”

“No, first practice is at three-thirty today. We’re meeting the coach and have a chance to ask him questions and stuff. I noticed you weren’t on the e-mail thread. Do you want me to forward it to you?”

“That would be great!” I said, “You know, we took another kid’s spot on the team so all my e-mails have been forwarded. I’m not on the list yet. I noticed, though, that your father-in-law is coaching?”

“What?” she asked.

“Yeah, some kid’s grandpa, he had your same last name so I assumed it was your father-in-law,” I said.

“Huh. That’s strange. Same last name? Do you have cleats and everything?” she said

“No, I was gonna send James to take him for cleats and everything tomorrow,” I said.

“Well, I’m heading over to Big Five now, you want me to pick some up?” she said.

“Really? Where is it around here?”

“Way down on Sloat. I’m going anyway, let me text you a picture when I get there and you can let me know.”

“Oh, that would be great! Thank you so much. I’m so glad I ran into you,” I said.

So, she left to finish her shopping and I mine.

For some reason I have not been on any e-mail lists for the boy’s school. I ran into a nice lady at the park who informed me that there even was a list. My son missed a get-to-know-you playdate for the whole kindergarten class at the beginning of summer and I missed the initial soccer sign ups. So, I’ve been getting a lot of forwarded emails from a lot of kind people since.

Then, I get home with groceries and make the subsequent four trips up two flights of stairs. My four-year old daughter is not hearing anything I say today. I lose it and the pointer finger comes out right in her face. It’s become a bad habit of late when I’m angry, the pointer finger in the face. Ugh.

In the most natural of consequences my yelling wakes Baby after only twenty minutes of nap. There will be no quiet time today.

So, it’s eleven o’clock on the Friday of a long week and for the first time that day I calculate the hours to bedtime. It’s not looking great when you start doing that before noon.

I double-check soccer e-mails and ok a pair of shin guards over text. The last e-mail I got says that there is a coaches’ meeting today. Does that mean we meet the coaches or they meet together?

Then, comes nap time, made precarious of late due to boy’s school pickup time. I try to get my daughter to lie down earlier, but, no, she falls asleep five minutes before it’s time to start walking up the hill. But, thank goodness, today I have the car, so I let her sleep another fifteen minutes.

I rouse her as best I can, put her pants back on, her socks, her shoes, grab my purse, and pick up the sleeping baby.

“Don’t worry,” I tell my daughter, “I’ve got the car, we’re taking the car today. We don’t have to walk.”

I go out into the hall, my keys aren’t on the ledge. So, with the door open wide, I hold the baby and search my purse for the keys. My daughter sleepily follows me out.

“Don’t shut the door,” I said, “I’m looking for my keys.”

But my daughter isn’t listening to me today, remember? And at the very moment I realize that my keys are not in my purse she shuts the door.

I take a moment.

When I came in I was holding the keys, a Baby, and two heavy bags of groceries. The keys would have been set down on the table with the groceries. Ugh. We were decidedly locked out.

I reach out the third story hallway window and can barely reach the apartment window. I try to slide it open. It’s not opening, but I don’t exactly want to let Baby wander around the landing while I try to straddle two third story windows.

So, no keys mean no car. It’s ten minutes before pick-up time and we’re twenty-five minutes away by foot. I turn to my daughter and tell her, still half asleep, that we’ll have to walk. There’s a slight meltdown. I walk downstairs and she trails behind languishing and dragging her blanket down every dirty step.

I put the baby in the stroller and open the front door, pick up the Boy first and figure it all out from there. I wait for my daughter, but she collapses in the entryway and glares at me.

So, I walk out and let the door close behind me. Mistake.

I am now locked out of the building and she is locked in. She cries and tries pitifully to open the door, but it’s too heavy for her.
I take this opportunity to call the school office and tell them that I’ll be late.

I’m pretty sure my daughter can open the door if she tried, but my pep talks aren’t working. She’s curled up on the floor, leaning against the door, sucking her thumb, and cuddling with blankie. There’s only one thing to do. I move out of view. I tuck the stroller out of sight by the garage. Immediately I hear her try to open the door. I run around and push it open. I praise her lavishly and we start up the hill.

Meanwhile, it’s about pick up time and the Mom I met at the supermarket has a pair of shin guards I’m supposed to get from her. She begins texting me and I text her back my situation. I have nine dollars for her in my pocket, but I’m going to be about twenty minutes late. She walks Boy to the school office and she’s also kind enough to forward me the e-mail from the guy in charge of soccer registration that tells about the practice today, when and where.

It’s at three-fifteen. We may not make it.

I charm my Girl up the hill, and we arrive at school and pick up the Boy from the office.

“Another kid’s Mom was late, too, but she got here before you did,” he tells me.

Yes, I am the latest of all the late Moms.

So, then I call my husband and let him know what’s going on with no keys and a surprise soccer practice. Luckily, I met a Mom who forwarded me the e-mail. Luckily, I have shin guards. And, luckily, the landlady’s office is not two blocks from our house. I call, but no one picks up. So, I ask my husband to take the forty minute bus ride home and let us in hoping against hope that we can make the first practice.

We get to the landlady’s office, a lovely ancient Chinese woman with a smile that absorbs her whole face. The door was locked, but I saw her in the back. We waved enthusiastically until she came to the door. I explained the situation and she pulled out a giant ring of keys.

“Go home, and I see which key for number four,” she says.

So we go home and wait for our landlady to come. I call James and tell him that his bus ride is for naught.

The landlady lets us in and we change into shin guards, grab the keys, and are out the door. We may just make the practice, yet!

James’ bus ride is turning out to be the ride from you-know-where and is taking much longer than it should. I tell him to get off and we’ll pick him up on the way.

We pick up Dad and find our way to the field where the practice is. We’re a few minutes late and we’re all frazzled, but we made it. The Boy is beside himself with excitement about soccer practice. Baby and the Girl are soon making friends with other siblings and chasing spare soccer balls around.

I find the Mom I ran into at the supermarket and thank her profusely. I hand her the nine dollars and we have a fun chat. My husband is already talking with another Dad. And I think to myself, “Alright, we did it. Crazy day, but we made it. Next dinner, then bed time.”

Then I go over and sit on the grass with another Mom. We’ve run into each other a few times and have developed a rapport. I tell her about my awful day as we watch the kids running around in the grassy sunshine. She was impressed. We laughed together.

“All boys,” I said, “I thought there were girls on the team.”

“Oh,” she said, “That’s the other team. And you’re glad you’re not on that team. Their practices are at five-thirty.”

I took a moment.

I put a hand on her arm.

“I think I’m on that team,” I said.

I put a hand over my mouth and our eyes got wide together. There is more than one kindergarten soccer team and they all have the same name, Dolphins, under six. And my son was on the other team, another team whose first practice was next week at five-thirty with someone’s grandfather coaching.

“Are you serious?” she asked.

I recounted everything as I knew it to her. I glanced up at my husband. I would never tell him. I would have to, later, much later. Our Boy was on the other team. There was room for doubt, but I was almost positive.

I went up to the Mom from the supermarket.

“I wasn’t quite prepared to be so vulnerable so early in our relationship,” I said, “But I have something to tell you. I think I’m actually on the other team.”

“No!” she said.

“Yes,” I said, “This is so embarrassing. I think that’s why the last e-mail that was forwarded to me said five-thirty. And our first practice is next week, and someone’s grandfather who has your same last name is coaching.”

“Well, did you recognize the name of the guy who sent out the e-mail that I forwarded you?”

“Yes, he’s the guy collecting the registration for all the teams. I’m going to go home and double-check all the e-mails, but I’m pretty sure. I’m not going to tell my husband until later, though.”

“Oh, no, much later.”

“So,” I said, “I’ll text you when I figure it out for sure.”

“Yes,” she said, “Please.”

You’d think the day could only get better after this gigantic punchline, but it kept disintegrating slowly. The Boy talked with great animation all the way home about how he loved his team and how glad he was that so-and-so was there. I grimaced inwardly. Then, a wooden toy was thrown across the car and prevented from hitting a window only by the Boy’s head. There was screaming and the car had to be pulled over. My knight in shining armor ordered us a pizza. He dropped us off and had to go back to work for several more hours. Bath time was cut short when Mommy overheard the phrase, “Oh, look! I got some on the ceiling!”

I wanted to snuggle. I wanted to read books and share a warm lap blanket with three beautiful babies. But they went to such lengths to earn every minute of early bedtime that I obliged.

I waded through e-mails. The Boy took another kid’s place so his name isn’t on every roster. Maybe I can switch him to the other team so it’s not such a huge mistake?

And now I’m writing it down. I’m writing it down because it helps. It’s a little more like a funny story that happened to someone else.

You know what else helps? Brown butter dark chocolate chip cookies with sea salt. So, guess what I’m baking right now?

4 responses »

  1. Your truth is stranger than anyone else’s fiction. You need your own network. Instead of the “Puppy Network”, make it the Barbara Network. ….I’d watch… 🙂 Way to immerse yourself in life. And a little brown butter cookie dough.


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