Rushing. Â All six of us, out of the house at 6:55. My hair is sopping wet, Â I haven’t even had time to put on lipstick. No breakfast, no time.
Get the kids out the door.
I don’t care if you can’t find your binder! I don’t care if you didn’t finish your waffle! We are going to be late. We can’t be late. It’s the Kindergarten Celebration.
Fine. You can play Nintendo in the car. Fine. As long as you are quiet.
On a client call while driving. A disembodied voice in New York is the soundtrack to muted Mario. It takes 45 minutes to get to school. Sometimes we talk and bond. Sometimes we play Nintendo and ignore New York.
Halfway there, the call ends. Early morning sunlight slashes at my eyes. I forgot my Chanel sunglasses. Crap.
The sunglasses are key. I need them. They unlock the walls of tightly grouped shoulders. They grant unquestioning entry into posh mom society. Their presence, perched atop my head transforms Â my ordinary wet and bedraggled locks into “post workout hair.” Â They also cover my lack of mascara. I’m so annoyed by squinting.Â I’m more annoyed with myself.
Then I realize what else I left on the kitchen counter.
Big lumps clog my throat.No photos of the Kindergarten Celebration, no videos of the song’s they’ve been rehearsing for months.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid parks the car.
“I don’t want to do the stupid show,” my kindergartener mumbles from the back seat.
My older son tells him to imagine everyone in their underwear. Â He gallantly offers to walk his little brother to class.
There’s just enough time to grab a cup of coffee, my husband assures me. But halfway through my first sip I just know he is wrong, because this is already *that* morning and I’m already curled up so tight.
We have five minutes to get back to the school.Â Mad dash, coffee splashed all over my dress. Back row. Last parents there.
Miraculously, we manage to sit before the show starts.
The kids file onto stage singing something from “A Chorus Line.” They areÂ adorable. Every last one of them, except for mine, because he’s not there.Â My son is outside, Â alone, trying to hide.
Confusion, worry, frustration, sadness, and anger spark and fizzle like failed fireworks.
“I really don’t like the stupid shows,” he says, his small body slightly shuddering from sobs. I hug him, try to comfort both of us.
It feels like we’ve both suffered a tragic loss. Like we’re both grieving for something. Â I’m not sure what.
If I’d listened to him better this morning, and not taken work calls? If I’d checked the time again before leaving? Â If I’d walked him into his classroom, reassuring him the whole way, rather than dropping him off and making a coffee dash? If I had my damned glasses and camera and better self on?
Would we have finished Kindergarten with him smiling and singing with all his friends, instead of us both crying?
It’s impossible to know where my son’s stage fright begins and my failures end. I justÂ know the frustration of vulnerable mornings, like this one. Â I know them all too well.