Everyone except me, the one mother in the universe who had forgotten the event was open to parents. Not a big deal, you might say, but it came on the heels of a messier near miss.
Only days before I’d bought ten tulip bulbs, packed them in a brown paper bag along with a spade, and told my husband he needed to accompany our second grader when she planted the bulbs at school. A great tradition, but one aimed at first graders.
It was my seven year old who cleared up the bulb confusion, but as I joined the arcade while others were leaving, I asked myself, “Am I losing my grip on this stuff?”
From what I’ve read on Facebook, I am not alone. It is a mid-October slump. We parents have been so good about getting through the back-to-school schedule of open houses and meetings, and we know holiday madness is around the corner. It makes sense to find ourselves at a low point. At least unlike a professional athlete, we can’t be traded to another team.
“How the F did I forget that today is a ½ day?”
So posted Jenine Lansing a few days ago and boy did it make me feel better. Not the thought of her daughter standing at the bus stop wondering where her mom was, but that someone else could miss the boat on communal information as thoroughly as I could.
My friend in Arizona, Libby Seiter Nelson, faced confusion not with days but with houses, when she engaged in the covert good-deed pranking of “Boo”.
She posted this on Facebook last week: “We just tried to "boo" some friends and I wrote down the right house number but not the right street. Had a sinking feeling we left our treats at the wrong house and by the time we verified it and drove back to try to make a switch, the "wrong" recipients had picked up their treasures. Ooops.”
My frustration with my recent round of “oops” is not that it reveals imperfection, I’ve given up on that, but that it could mean the system I’ve used to try to stay on top of things is not keeping up with the “things”. Does a mistake necessitate some self-compassion or a review of my method for keeping it all together? It can be hard say.
I teetered on the brink of an organization overhaul even before the tulip bulbs when a notice from the public library arrived saying we had six overdue books.
“This is impossible!” I said, looking over the list. “We just checked out three spooky stories about Halloween, we could not still have You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Samurai! I have a system.”
That system, I might mention, was developed after an unfortunate rental of the DVD “Barbie Princess Charm School” one November. It took me more than two weeks to hand deliver that disc to the checkout desk, the drop box not permitted, and that lesson in charm cost about $20 in fines. That was followed by $25 for returning books after a long vacation.
So I’d gotten strict about checkouts. No more DVD’s. No books before holidays. And, never, ever, no matter what, do we check out books if other library books are still in the house, even if they were not yet due.
That last rule was what I put my faith in.
“You, see,” I explained to a library volunteer over the phone, “I couldn’t possibly have You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Ninja Warrior, because I recently checked out The Witches Supermarket.” She said she’d check the shelves, but I never heard back. This was a job I needed to do in person.
“I have a system,” I said, a little less confidently, this time to the librarian on duty. She took pity and pulled up my account. Then she went to the shelves.
And sure enough she found book one. Then the next. And so forth. The Charm School Rules were not only in place but they were working. I had new hope that I’d bounce out of my mid-October slump and rally for the demands of November.
I will sync my calendars. I will read the emails from the class parent. I will remember that I am the class parent. And we’ll take those bulbs and plant them in our own yard. As long as we remember where they are.