It starts at 5 AM. I used to have this supper efficient way of making sure I got out of the house by 6 AM. It included dinging alarms, a stern newscasters voice that begins speaking midsentence when the timer magically zaps the television on, and Japanese green tea brewing into the cup I set out the night before. 5 AM Shower and dress. 5:20 Waffles in the toaster oven. 5:25 Low calorie basil and oreganoed salads into perfect portion controlled Tupperware. 5:40 Grab the baby’s tube of fruit mush and cut his waffle. 5:45 snatch a yelping baby from his crib as he curses the ceiling light by yelling, “Hot! Hot!” repeatedly. After a one handed change of his diaper we are out the door.
The commute is usually over an hour because some city planning geniuses in the 1980s had the bright idea to build a town of cul-de-sacs. Everyone in my town has an address on a court. Apparently, no one thought about the traffic nightmares that would erupt on the only road that leads to and from thousands of homes. Our tightly knitted knot of dead end streets is about an hour outside of Washington DC, where most of us work. So every morning we pile unto our worn down road and mentally throw elbows in the faces of fellow commuters with middle fingers, irate expressions, and reckless lane changes.
From 6 to 7:15 we stop, go, and speed only to hurry up and wait within two inches of another car’s bumper. I use Buzzfeed to pass the hour at long lights. Finally, we are at school, and Cricket, my precocious toddler, immediately starts ripping through my classroom. He leaves a trail of pencils, index cards, and beads that I will have to clean up before students arrive. I am thankful when it’s time to turn him over to his teacher down the hall.
I spend the day … I’m trying to think of the best word…the only thing that comes to mind is avoidance. I spend the day avoiding (if that makes any sense). No, I don’t want to hear the cool story about how your sunglasses matches your Minecraft game. I’m just going to say, “Uh huh” until you stop talking. Nope, I don’t have a sec to meet with the associate head of school. I will pretend I didn’t get that email. I will not help you tie the shoelaces that drags in urine every day since none of you boys know how to aim in the urinal. Ask a friend to help you because I have a sprain in my hand. No, cheery teacher that seems to have an invisible IV seeping liquid cocaine directly into your veins, I did not read your email about the new teaching fad of the week. You send a new email about a new teaching fad every day. Oh, and by the way, could you stop bellowing, “Good Morning” to every person you pass in the hallway. It’s 7:30 in the goddamn morning.
At 3:45 I throw whatever games within arm’s reach into a duffle bag. For an hour I have to stare into the vacant eyes of one of three tutees. We play whatever game tumbles first out of my duffle bag. Their mothers are kidding themselves if they think I can close grand canyon sized learning gaps in one or two hours a week. I feel guilty about my exorbitant tutoring fees but I need to make up for the teacher checks I get bi-monthly that say $223.17. I’m exaggerating of course, but geez, you would think being an educator, phycologist, parent, social worker, and special education teacher all rolled into one would bank me more than 50K a year…I digress. More on that later.
On awesome days (is my sarcasm thick enough to rub you the wrong way?) I get to run an errand after tutoring. As I write this I feel pity and sadness for the cashier that can’t find the barcodes on my groceries, or the postal worker who has to leave the counter to get more stamps. It’s a post office. Why would you have to go to some specialized room for more stamps? Isn’t the post office the specialized room? Ugh. My wrath rings out to anyone in my line of fire as I slam my purse on the counter or sigh obnoxiously. GIVE ME MY BOOK OF STAMPS SO I CAN GO!
7PM on the road again with Cricket tapping the back of my seat with the tips of his toes. We get home just in time for his late dinner and spa session. After his bubble bath he peeks between the folds of his towel and suggests, “Lotion?” It occurs to me that a toddler who can list the steps of our nightly routine is ready for potty training.
At 9 PM I sit down for the first time since 5 AM. My husband, Aaron, works nights, so I sit in bed alone eating a microwave dinner. I sip red wine straight from the bottle even though I quit three months ago. As superfluous reality television drones in the background I wonder how the fuck I got here. How did I end up this wheeling hamster headed nowhere. I’ve got to get out of this. I will get out of this. I fall asleep with the lights on and the television blaring undisturbed by the sleep timer I meant to set. The next morning at 5 AM I wake up and do it all over again.