Today was one of those days when almost nothing went as planned. At 10am, the kids were finally buckled into the car along with almost 20 library items, grocery list in hand, and a fully stocked diaper bag. We were ready to go… only 15 min late. I put the key in the ignition, turned it only to hear a rapid succession of “clicks” and watch the lights on the dashboard blink a few times… then nothing. I tried again. This time not even one “click.” Hhmm – I hadn’t been concerned when I went to open the car door upon putting the kids in their seats and realized the door hadn’t been latched for over 14 hrs. Our car automatically turns off the interior lights after 10 minutes so as not to drain the battery. Apparently, I should have been concerned. “Oh well – Not a huge deal,” I thought as I began to recalculate the day. I’d call Daniel, tell him the situation. He may or may not be able to come home and jump the car. If not, I’d call my neighbor, the only other SAHM on the street that I know, and ask if we could use their car to run Alice to kindergarten after lunch.
Luckily for me, Daniel was able to come home and check out the car. I stayed outside and raked leaves while Daniel put his mechanical expertise to work, mainly to ensure my son didn’t stick his hands where they shouldn’t be since he’s extremely fascinated by engines, wires, fans, etc, but also to try to show some moral support and appreciation for my husband’s sacrifice of work time. We let the car run for a while to charge the battery; Daniel made a phone call to gather more advice on the situation. He then turned the car off, checked the voltage with a meter, was able to turn the car back on! and deemed it fixed. Excellent! So I finished raking leaves and went inside to get lunch.
We were easily ready by the normal time I usually get the kids in the car to take Alice to school. Sitting in the car, turning the key… “click, click, click.” My heart started pumping, and I flew into action. I’ve got 20 minutes to figure out how to get Alice to school – she’s the leader today. (This day is always met with great enthusiasm and excitement. Alice was so excited about her sharing time she told me she couldn’t sleep this morning.) I run inside and IMed Daniel while dialing my neighbor’s cell phone. She didn’t answer. Here’s the conversation between Daniel and myself.
Natalie: help – car won’t start
Daniel: oh man
Natalie: Mrs. T isn’t answering
Daniel: I’m not sure if I can be home in time
Natalie: getting there late is better than not at all…
Natalie: ? What do you think?
Daniel: can you walk? It’s not raining [pause!]
Natalie: sure… why not
Natalie: gotta go fast
[I dash back to our room to put on a pair of running shorts]
Daniel: are you being sarcastic
Natalie: yes and no
Natalie: I’m serious I need to leave NOW
Natalie: is she [Alice] going to walk too? [I’m processing thoughts in written form]
Natalie: I don’t have a double [stroller]
Natalie: alright… I’m leaving
Daniel: ok take the cell, call me if you have trouble
Now understand that I have tried to figure out ways to take Alice to school without starting the car, and Daniel is aware of this – hence why he suggested we walk. It’s about a 2 mile roundtrip according to mapmyrun.com. So it’s obviously not a huge distance; however, there are many reasons I haven’t undertaken this before. The roads for .8 of that 1 mile are pretty busy. I do not have a double stroller, and I haven’t learned how to hook up our bike trailer yet, which is now on my list of “must dos” very soon. We do have a roomy, sturdy wagon in which I’m able to pull the kids on flat and downhill grades; but I cannot pull them up steep hills, of which there would be 4 on this particular trip. The only option I have left is a single stroller, and Alice would need to walk. Now I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible, and I could write pages upon pages about her wonderful attributes; but the blatant truth is that she is slow as molasses whenever I’m in a hurry. Walking a mile with her would take 30 minutes, and we only had 15 mins left.
I will not tell you how I managed to get 2 kids on a single stroller (and I do mean “on” not “in”), but I’m sure a cop would have stopped me and told me I was breaking some sort of safety law had I been spotted. As it was, I knew I was making quite a ridiculous scene as I’m sprinting (yes – sprinting!!) down one of the aforementioned hills with 2 children in a single stroller that was NOT meant for running. I was literally laughing and smiling like a lunatic at the picture we must have made. Not only that, but there was the embarrassment of actually arriving at the school in this fashion as well. I totally felt like some ghetto parent. We got there with no time to spare as I told Alice to “Run!” to the teacher’s aide who is in charge of helping the kids get safely inside the building after being dropped off. The aide was about to enter the building, deeming Alice late; and I was going to be ticked if Alice was late after all my efforts – not to mention having to walk into the school office totally windblown, red-faced and sweating like a pig. Alice didn’t run, but thankfully the aide saw us and waited.
The bad news – We found out later tonight that the battery is not the problem. It’s most likely the alternator which our mechanic told us would be a “chunk of change.”
The good news – Ian got to watch the heavy equipment at the building site beside Alice’s school (which he begs me to do every single day!) while I stopped to catch my breath. Also I got in a workout I wasn’t planning by adding some more mileage to the route. Finally, Christmas shopping will be a lot easier this year – so far our gifts to each other have been a refurbished (but way exciting! – I’m serious!!) vacuum cleaner, a new alternator and possibly a new tire for the bike trailer so I can have a jogging stroller. Merry Christmas to us! And to everyone out there experiencing similar situations – Merry Christmas to you too – a little early! May you find joy in the little things (like really clean carpets and cars that work) this season.