I was on the way to school this morning with the kids and was pleased that they were in good spirits. It had been a mediocre morning - a little whining from John, who woke up too early, threatened to disturb the mood equilibrium but we all managed to get out the door with food in our bellies and eyes dry. Except when we stepped out into the continuing Arkansas monsoon; then we got wet all over.
Sicily started spelling Mississippi over and over, the old sing-song way, with crooked letters and humpbacks, ironically, I noticed, right as I pulled onto the street. John began to imitate, "M-I-S-S-M-I-S-S-P-P-P-P-I." Sicily became enraged, and kept trying to correct him. I had to rush to his defense - looking at her in the rear-view mirror and pleading quietly "Zip it, Miss C. He's just trying to imitate you, and it doesn't matter if it's not right. He's having fun." But if you have kids, you know that reasonable pleading cannot contain an older sister's need for being right, so she showed him a street sign as we rounded the corner and said, "See John! I'm right. Mississippi. There it is," to the oblivious John, who is still learning to recognize and write all of his letters.
In the carpool line, the conversation quickly turned to how many times (1) they are allowed to have fast food a week, with Sicily pushing limits and twisting words to attempt to increase the number. Then she started reminding me loudly and repetitively to tell her teacher, who is luckily on carpool duty this week, that I was the one who cleaned out her backpack and threw away the blank sheet of paper that she was supposed to copy her spelling words on last night. My accidental over-cleaning initiated much anxiety on her part, with an ensuing multi-store search for the elusive "B Tablet." Sicily finally settled on similar paper, but worried all evening about the different colored lines and the lack of a margin for numbers, which she eventually decided to draw herself, disconsolately.
So I told the teacher of my error, childishly giving Sicily an "I told you so" look when the teacher said it didn't matter at all. She shut the door, and I simultaneously sighed with relief and cranked up Grizzly Bear, happy to be on my way to work. As I was heading down Mississippi toward Markham, I heard a little voice in the backseat, that almost made me jump out of my skin.
"Mommy? Where am I going? What is happening?"
I usually drop John off at the second stop, right after Sicily, but she had been so loud for the last ten minutes of the car ride, and John had been so quiet, that I just sailed past, forgetting about him entirely. Even though I knew I had already been through the magic carpool window between 7:30 and 8:00, the one that took me a few weeks to find, where you only have to sit in line for 5 minutes instead of 15 or 20, I couldn't help laughing. Apologizing to John. Turning around, resigning to the fact I would now be thirty minutes late to work and there was no one to blame but myself. Wondering if this was the beginning of the end.