Friday, June 4, 2010

Keystroke off Crazy

First grade plays were this afternoon. I prepped Parker and Gwen so they knew what to expect. I told them things like “You have to sit still and be quiet. No wiggling. No talking. Blah blah blah.” I even gave them gum to chew so they felt like they had something to do.

Perhaps I prepped too much. There was no sitting still. They were busy looking all around the classroom whispering and pointing at everything. At least they were whispering. For the most part. At one point Gwen took her gum out of her mouth and it dropped in the pouch on the back of the chair in front of us. It had already been on the floor too. She was not happy that I would wrap up her gum and put it in my purse calling it garbage.

Gavin’s play was second. Halfway through Gwen realized Gavin was in it and started pointing while exclaiming, “Gamin! Wook! It’s Gamin!” Everyone politely laughed and Gavin covered his mouth stifling an erupting giggle.

Of course I forgot the camera. And Parker was bummed that we forgot to clip his tie to his t-shirt for Tie Day in honor of the retiring principal.

The plays were cute. Gavin’s was a little painful because he didn’t seem to remember his lines very well. He was prompted a lot. So was another kid in his group. Later, his teacher told me that he knew his lines really well when they practiced in class but he had a hard time remembering when to say his lines. Gavin and I had a hard time practicing at home. He wouldn’t let me help by reading all the other parts. I just kind of let him do his own thing to avoid the fight. I was embarrassed by his performance but his teacher seemed complimentary of his efforts practicing.

The plays were scheduled for the last hour of class. They finished 20 minutes before school let out. I already wanted to leave. Agoraphobia was not on my side today and I wanted nothing more than to just get out of there. But I waited around while Gwen handled everything in sight. Five minutes passed, although it felt like five hours, and the teacher said that the parents were welcome to take their students home as long as they checked them out at the front office first. Ooh. Tempting but we were planning on attending the going away party for the principal. I wanted to thank him and wish him well in retirement. Gavin wore his school shirt because we understood that the principal would sign t-shirts.

I couldn’t stand being uncomfortable in the classroom anymore so I told Gavin I would wait for him in our usual meeting spot. I told him to help the student teacher put the chairs and desks back. Outside wasn’t any easier. I almost grabbed Gwen’s stroller just to curb her curiosity. There were parents setting up a table to sell school apparel. Random kids were playing on the blacktop. Other parents were setting things up on the picnic tables. Parents were scattered around as they arrived to wait for their students. My kids were playing in the planter box despite all my efforts to stop them.

Some kids started talking about the huge plume of smoke in the sky. Fire was the word of the moment. Adults said it was not a house on fire. One girl said it was right across the street from her house and that her house would burn down. There was definitely a smell in the air. Not normal campfire or fireplace smell. The black smoke billowed higher above the trees.

The principal walked straight toward the back gate where we usually come in at pick up time. He talked in his walkie talkie and went straight back to the front office. His voice came over the loudspeaker but with all the people milling around I couldn’t hear the whole message. Something about keeping the kids in class until further notice. Fantastic. How long would this take?

The bell rang and out came Gavin for the second time. I had already sent him back in when he wandered out not realizing he was supposed to be in class! I asked him if his teacher knew he left. He said yes and my eyes darted around looking for fellow classmates. He pointed out a couple girls so I figured it was ok. I really wanted to just go but again, we were planning on saying formal goodbyes to the principal.

A few minutes later the rest of the student body was released and I took my kids by the hand in hot pursuit of the principal. Clearly things were not happening as planned and I was not going to wait any longer. It’s Friday for heaven’s sake.

It was the most anticlimactic goodbye ever. We caught up to him in front of the office where he was talking with a small gathering of parents about the fire supposedly at a water treatment plant. I chimed in a comment to get his attention and then started my goodbye. “We wanted to thank you for everything you have done for our family and wish you the best in your retirement.” Just then a mom and her child, probably a kindergartener, walked up and handed him a picture. Oh fine. This kid has a hand drawn picture for the principal and all we have is hollow sounding words and an intense desire to flee the bizarre scene unfolding at school regarding the fire. I’m sure the principal was grateful for what I said but he was preoccupied. Anticlimactic for sure.

We get in the van and navigate our way out of the front parking lot with all the insanity of parents trying to pick up students. The kids start chatting with me and I cut them off to emphatically say, “Just let me drive right now, ok!” Car accidents were waiting to happen every few feet until we got out of the neighborhood. I start to relax the closer I get to home. I round the corner into our circle, push the button to open the garage and not a thing happens.

Push push push. Nothing. I pull partially into the driveway pushing the button. Nothing. I open my window and point the remote outside. Nothing. Frustrated because every so often the garage remote seems to have a mind of its own, I park the van and get out, telling the kids I’ll be back. I walk through the house to the garage and push the button. Nothing. Seriously? I flip a light switch. Nothing. Ok. The power is out. That’s great.

We all walk through the front door and I explain over and over that the power is out meaning nothing will work. Parker runs upstairs to make sure their toys still work! No son, anything that plugs in won’t work. Your toys are fine!

I get Gwen down for a nap after explaining that Happy Ho Ho won’t play because the power is out. She didn’t cry for too long. Then it sinks in. I can’t do anything. At all. My cell phone battery died right before we left for school. In fact, Gwen was playing with it during the plays. We do have one phone that plugs in so I called Heath because agoraphobia has been replaced by a dark feeling of being completely cut off from the world. Luckily I have enough battery power to write this story. It’s literally the only thing holding me together right now! My office with the invisible walls that I go in after school to decompress for a minute is full of mindless toys that require ELECTRICITY.

It’s only a million degrees outside. Probably why the power is out. Everyone suddenly turned on their AC and overwhelmed the grid. Well, it’s not really a million degrees outside. It’s in the low 80’s. For the first time this year. I normally like 80’s but humidity is at a million percent. For real. The principal said, “I feel like I’m back East. Is it just me or is it really humid today?” It’s not just him. Wally Weatherman has been reporting high humidity all week.

So I’m forced to observe an impromptu Earth Day with not a drop of Diet Coke in the house on a Friday afternoon when I’m so over this week and need a break from reality. Just Thomas Kemper root beer. Lots of sugar and naturally caffeine free! My laptop with the waning battery is my only friend.

I screamed a few times. The kids thought that was hilarious. Humor is good. It’s better they think I was kidding than realize Mom is rapidly losing all sanity before their very eyes.

We’re nearing three hours sans AC, electricity, and lucid thoughts. It’s estimated that we only have to wait another 90 minutes before power will be restored. It’s ok, I’m just a keystroke off crazy.

*Update* An email was sent from the school regarding the fire. "At approximately 2:55pm a plum of black smoke was noted near the park across from the treatment plant. Students were held inside of the their classrooms until we could determine the exact cause of the smoke and if it was safe to dismiss them. At 3:05pm, someone from the FD told us the smoke was due to a car fire and it was safe to dismiss students from class. Students were dismissed at 3:07pm. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the incident."

We got home from school between 3:15 and 3:20 so it's hard to say exactly when the power went out. We decided to escape our hellish prison for dinner at Togo's and got back home sometime after 7:30 pm. The power had been restored. What a day. What a day.

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