Confessions of a mom with a kid in each school.
By Gabrielle Zilkha
Any given morning can be mayhem or the opposite in my house; I never know what I am going to get when I climb out of bed! I would like to believe that our morning routine, with three kids, each heading to a different school with a different start time, runs like a well oiled machine 85% of the time. The other 15% of mornings makes for some interesting conversation!
My alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. My two girls are already awake, primping and preparing for the day ahead. The dogs are antsy to get out, and I am trying my hardest to keep the noise level low so my 4th grader does not wake up. Omelets are made, and sandwiches are thrown together for lunch. The dogs are fed and let out, let back in again, let out and let back in once again, all of which has to be before I corral the girls into the car no later than 7:07 a.m. If the dogs are left out, they chase my car down the driveway–another potential wrench to be thrown in the morning routine. Some days, a book or a piece of ski equipment for an afternoon race is forgotten, which means a midday trip to one school or another for an emergency delivery.
We meet our wonderful neighbor at her house at 7:10 a.m., so I can drop off my middle-schooler with her two kids to wait for their bus, which arrives at 7:17 a.m. In the meantime, I take her HG student with mine, and we make our way to Greeley, amazed at how polite and respectful most of the morning drivers are. Every now and then someone not acquainted with the rules of the road wreaks havoc for everyone, like the inadequately caffeinated soul who decides to make a left turn without moving into the intersection first, causing a 10-minute delay in crossing the parkway.
Once the girls have been disgorged at their respective schools, I make the trek home, through the knot of traffic, hopefully in time to get my youngest dressed, tear him away from the computer, pour his cereal and toss him a Gogurt stick. Day 3 means it’s Trombone Day, so occasionally there is a last minute frantic search for said brass. My husband is getting ready to head into work around this time, but fortunately he requires no assistance in getting dressed or finding his ski helmet or band instrument! Dogs want to go out again as I eye the clock, aiming to reach the bus stop by 8:28. Throw in the fact that I live on what may be the most pothole-ridden road in the district, which means the bus may be slightly delayed as our fabulous bus driver tries to keep the axles intact, and you have what I like to call a variable pickup time!
Lest you think I retire to eat bonbons until dismissal, once this fire drill is done, my day is far from over. Predictably, a text from my middle school student will arrive midday asking me who is picking her up, and when, or asking me to deliver wrapping paper and candy to decorate a friend’s locker for a birthday.
Meanwhile, my HG student will inevitably text me to let me know that she will be getting out of school or finishing up practice at some odd time, and that I should be prepared to pick her up. My little guy has no phone, so once he is on the bus, it’s radio silence until the bus returns him safely home. I am enjoying that while I can. Occasional calls are fielded from the nurse yielding a detailed description of a tummy ache or cold, but luckily those are rare. Fortunately, there have not yet been any nurse call hat-tricks from all three schools on the same day, but the year isn’t over yet!
At some point in the early afternoon, I gear up for the entire process in reverse. While some might find this process exhausting, I would not trade my days of mayhem for anything. The constant motion is, for me, part of what having children is all about. It’s never dull, and while my kids still want to include me in their daily chatter, I relish each moment.
Sometimes, I just drive and listen, enjoying the crazy decibel level, and knowing that one day, much sooner than I think, it will be very quiet in my car and I will not like the silence at all.
Gabrielle Zilkha lives in Chappaqua with her husband, three children–ages 15, 13, 9–and two dogs.