Forget me not
A few days ago our friends and neighbors Dennis and Christine experienced a little breach in communications around the matter of which of them was meant to pick up four children after school.
The four children in question are their son and daughter and our son Marty as well as his classmate, Aaron, who was to be dropped off for soccer practice at Great Salt Bay School in Damariscotta – the school our son Colin attends.
At the moment the four seemingly abandoned children were wondering whether they should call someone, I was standing in the entrance hall of Great Salt Bay looking around for Colin. He had a doctor’s appointment and we had agreed I would pick him up at school. By the time I returned from a long lunchy-smelling walk down the corridor in search of him, the school buses had all departed. It was quiet in the entrance hall. I leaned into the office window and asked the secretary if she could page the bus driver to see if Colin was aboard. He was. I sighed and turned to talk to my friend Rachel who teaches there. A moment later, the secretary asked, “Would you like Peter Pepper to drop him off downtown at the library?”
“Sure. I’m on my way!” I am fortunate that Rachel is the kind of close friend who allows me to rocket away from her in mid-sentence.
I parked behind Main Street and whipped around to the front of the library. Colin has a Bob Marleysque way about him when it comes to having his boat rocked. But standing there on the library steps, instead of being upset, he was laughing.
“I’m so embarrassed. Sal and Zachariah laughed so hard. I forgot I was supposed to wait for you.”
“It’s okay. We all forget stuff,” I said, swinging him into a hug as we walked around to the car. “Let’s get some chocolate from the chocolate shop.”
Dennis, whose nursery/garden store is just a mile or so from the other children’s school, decided to rescue the stranded children even though he knew Christine was on her way.
As the children waited, three of the teachers sat on the steps waiting to see how the situation would unfold. As the children piled into Dennis’ truck, he offered a prediction: “Soon a very angry woman in a white car will arrive.” Then he drove away to take the lucky children for ice cream.
The teachers decided to stick around a little longer to observe the arrival of the angry woman, who somehow always manages to look beautiful.
At the doctor’s office I was calling home to tell Marty that I’d taken Colin to the doctor’s. I was getting a little concerned because he was already a half-hour late in returning home. Where was he? Finally as Dr. Feder was scoping out Colin’s ear drum, Marty called to say he was at Dennis’ and Christine’s and having a great time and I could pick him up on my way home at my inconvenience.
That was Monday.
On Tuesday morning Aaron’s parents, George and Susan, were driving to Massachusetts to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with their daughter who had just started away at school. We had agreed, so that they wouldn’t have to rush back to Maine, that I would pick up Aaron that evening from an away soccer game at 8:30 p.m. at Great Salt Bay.
At about 7:15 p.m. we were just finishing dinner when the phone rang. It was Brenda. Brenda is the Co-Chair of the Diocese of Maine Resolution Committee. I had promised to bring a stack of diocesan convention booklets from my office in Portland to St. Andrew’s Church where a pre-convention hearing was to be held for delegates from the four mid-coast counties.
“Oh God, I forgot!” I screamed into the phone. “I’m so sorry, Brenda.” Two miles away 25 people were sitting in the undercroft of the church waiting for materials that I’d forgotten…an appalling mental image. Brenda had a copy of materials from the web site so she quickly hung up to make copies. Listening to me grovel wasn’t the best use of her time. I sat back at the dining room table. Scott, usually a joker, looked truly empathetic. He knows what this kind of guilt feels like.
“Shit,” I said. “This is bad.” So I stood up, pots and dishes akimbo, and went to church to apologize in person.
At 8:45, I looked at my watch in the undercroft. At 9 p.m. Colin and I had planned to watch the second episode of “Commander in Chief,” the new show with Geena Davis as the first woman president. We’d stumbled into the first episode the previous week and decided to follow it. I should have TiVo’d, I thought. Sitting back in my chair, I turned my attention back to the diocesan budget process, offering clarification when I could.
That was Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, at 2:15, I was folding laundry in my bedroom. With all the work deadlines, school assignments and general busyness right now, we are awash in clean clothes but none of them are folded or put where anyone can find a pair of socks.
Suddenly, as I folded a napkin, one word popped into my mind. And that word was Aaron. AARON!!! I’d forgotten to pick him up the previous night after his soccer game! Oh God!
Immediately I turned to my night table and picked up the phone to call his dad.
“George!” I said in a panic. “I forgot to pick up Aaron last night!”
It turns out that Aaron’s parents had called 15 minutes after I’d left for the meeting at church to say they were going to make it home in time to pick up Aaron themselves. Scott was supposed to relay the message to me that I need not bother.
“Didn’t he remember to call you?” George asked.
Later that afternoon, after picking up kids at school and dropping Aaron off at Great Salt Bay for soccer practice and Marty off at the YMCA for soccer practice. I sat in my car watching the start of Marty’s practice for a few minutes until it was time to return to Great Salt Bay to pick up Colin after Homework Club. From there we would drive to Topsham for his horseback riding lesson. At Great Salt Bay I walked around the empty school. No Colin. Again.
I got in my car and felt like crying. We live in Maine. Life isn’t supposed to be this complicated.
Then the phone rang on the seat beside me.
“Mom, where are you?” It was Colin. He had taken the bus home.
“Colin, didn’t you have Homework Club today? I’m here at GSB looking for you.”
“Oh God! I forgot!” he howled miserably.
Better get used to it, kid.
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