How did I get here? OK, I know how I got here, as in the first of the Webster definitions of the word, “place or location.” I crawled out the window and am on the roof. But, if you go to the third of the meanings designated for here, “in the present life or state,” that’s where the ambiguities lie.
There is a police officer asking me about the car in my driveway that was reported stolen; my sweet, elderly neighbor, whom my kids refer to as grandma Joan because she is forever the faithful stand-in on grandparents day, is hovering in the bushes, and I am on the roof holding a child’s shoe adorned in Batman images. The clock is ticking and I am moving one step closer to becoming the mom whose kids have the most tardies; rumor has it there is a cape with a the Scarlett Letter T reserved for such mothers.
I was blessed to have a college education. I travel and work a nice job. But none of it is making me any smarter right now. It’s times like this when I so desperately want to grab on to a certainty. There was a time when two things in life were certain, death and taxes, but thanks to folks like Ted Williams (head being cryogenically preserved) and G.E. (paid no taxes) we no longer have these pillars of predictability. Then there is the great equalizer “He puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.” Well, I’ve got three kids, all of whom have proven that theory null and void. We will never know where socks go, but at least there should be a rule as to how long you hold on to a lone sock before you give up hope. So in search for stability the only certainty I have come up with is “We are all born naked.” The rest—religion, personality, one lump or two, where do I go from here—is all just part of the big bang of life.
Which brings me back to the roof. My youngest threw his shoe out the window to see if Batman’s superpowers also translate to shoes bearing his Batty likeness. While retrieving the shoe I see my kindly neighbor waving from the bushes; she communicates to me in a very loud stage whisper; she’s had a car accident and didn’t want her husband to know, so last night she parked the car in my driveway. But when her husband saw the car missing from the garage, he reported it stolen. Barely is the story complete when a police car pulls up and she dissolves into the landscape. Processing too much information, I no longer have the good sense to go back in the house. From the roof I ask, “May I help you officer?”
I’m guessing from what I’ve read that this is a teachable moment, as in, “A time at which a person, especially a child is disposed to learn something.” But what exactly is it that is begging to be taught? That shoes don’t fly? That Batman is a fake? That commercialism is bad but I’ve given into it? That judging tardy mothers is hurtful? That you three in the kitchen are gaining your independence while the lady in the shrubs is slowly losing hers? That the husband in the house is fretting about more than the car and the wife is beginning to admit the throbbing pain in her skull is more than a headache? That the man in the uniform is looking for law and order? Law and order … as if that really exists.
To the shock of my children, I tell them to go watch TV. “Yes, I know it’s a school day.” I then assure the police officer I will drive the car and its owner back to their rightful spots. I talk to the fretting husband and his sad wife who doesn’t want to leave the car. I get my kids out the door, including the one who still doesn’t have a shoe, because I’m holding it. Normally we would walk to school but time dictates driving. As we pass my neighbors' house I see them both in the front seat of the car and feel the sting of tears that want to burst. But there are three kids behind me declaring “That was fun. I hope the police come again tomorrow and we can watch TV!” Fun? Was that supposed to be fun? Did I once again miss that teachable moment? What can I say? All that I know is we were all born naked.