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Daughter on the run

It was one of those mornings where I felt years of my life shooting out of my fingertips like a Roman candle. Seriously, my fingertips hurt as I type this. Ooh, there’s my 78th year lying on the desk. Maybe I can cram it back in?

Beatrix, our kindergartner, has gym today. They rotate: Music, art, gym, drama, music, art, gym, drama. If yesterday was art, today must be gym and that meant she had to wear her gym shoes or else. The consequence is spending gym class sitting along the wall so playtime is safe and the gym floor is preserved. We are usually great about making sure gym shoes and gym class are best buddies.

But this morning, she couldn’t find one of her shoes. We looked all over the house as I chided her for not putting them in the proper gym-shoe spot. Eventually, I told her she had to wear a different pair of shoes. She put some black Mary Janes over her ankle gym socks. I told her that wasn’t the best look, please take the socks off. She was wearing a pull-over dress with shorts underneath, so it wasn’t like pant legs would hide the short-sock-Mary-Jane combo. In retrospect, I should have just let her wear the socks.

Things were already tough. The thought of removing the gym socks made her lose it. She started wailing about sitting on the wall, needing socks, how her feet looked pretty. Meanwhile, I had the other kids to send to the van. Miraculously, all six boys were dressed and ready to go. I sent them outside to buckle-up with warnings about being tardy, except Teddy, who needed a diaper change. Of course.

Beatrix said, “Why is it bad to be tardy but okay to be absent?” Good question.

I told her that usually when kids are absent, they are sick and shouldn’t go to school. She replied, “Do you think you could call the school and say I can’t come today because I don’t have a shoe?”

Well, no. Not even a little at all in the remotest sense of possibilities of the universe can we entertain that thought, my dear.

“WHY DO I HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL!?” she wailed. I told her it was the law and that the police say it’s the law, darn it. The police get mad if you don’t go to school.

I picked up Teddy and headed out the front door with the warning that she would have her shoes on by the time I came back inside. I buckled Teddy into his seat and marveled at my boys, who are usually the source of things-tardy.

Back inside, I expected to see Beatrix putting on her shoes. She wasn’t there. The house was completely quiet. I shouted down into the dark basement and up the stairs. I looked in the powder room and opened the door to the garage. My 7th-grader came inside and asked what was going on. I told him I couldn’t find Beatrix. He went upstairs to look for her. “I found her!’

He bounded down the stairs looking amused.

‘She’s hiding from the cops.”

A few seconds later, she appeared around the corner at the top of the stairs, looking ashamed. She walked down, sat on the tile, and put on the Mary Janes. She got her backpack and we walked to the van together. She climbed into her booster and buckled. I got in the driver’s seat, noted that we were leaving about 8.45398 minutes later than I like to leave. I reached down to my purse to get a piece of gum for the road when I saw:

Her other shoe.


I’m participating in Heather’s Just Write today. There are tons of participants and I’ve found it to be a good exercise in writing off-the-cuff. I wrote 90% of this in my head as I drove home.

6 comments to Daughter on the run

  • Of course!

    We have had those mornings too. I suppose everyone does, whether one kid or ten.

  • Oh poor baby girl!!! What a day and that was just the start of it. My 3/4 yr old is running on empty lately and keeps vanishing on a daily basis… blind panic till I discovered she was sneaking off for a nap and we just didn’t notice the little lump under the covers… You know older siblings standing on the bed screaming her name and searching for her… and the little lump not even stirring!!! I only hope your day improved dramatically after that and al power to you for getting them out the door in the morning – any morning!!!

  • Oh my, what a story! And there’s so much in here too, from the question about tardiness vs. absence, and hiding from the cops, to unexpectedly finding the other shoe. It’s very poignant and I love that you just let it speak for itself too, without over-editorializing. Very beautifully written! (Though I am sorry you had to have one of those days!)

  • Wow Gretchen. This is fabulous. And man, do I know those mornings. Sounds like Bea and Teyla would get along a little too well.

  • Love this story. Would totally happen here.

  • oh lady. YUP.

    I just love your story-telling. I imagine your kids reading these some day and it just makes me happy.

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