So we got to school at 8:05. And everyone was pledging their allegiance to the flag (and to the republic for which it stands), and I think I was supposed to stand in the "late line" and get a tardy slip from the secretary with our EXCUSE written on it to give to Gus's teacher, but for some reason, I just blew past the line, walked Gus down the hallway, and tapped on his (locked) classroom door with a pouty little look on my face that was supposed to say "forgive me" but probably said "despite the fact that I am in my mid-thirties, I still believe I can bypass rules and responsibility by making adorable apologetic faces."
I wanted to punch myself.
My favorite teacher in high school was a stickler for punctuality. "If you're early, you're on time,” she would say. “And if you're on time, you're late."
I followed that rule with a religious zeal through most of my adult life. I believed that if you were late it was because you didn't value other people’s time or subconsciously you didn't want to be where you were going.
To a great extent, I still believe that.
However, as I’ve found myself responsible for getting other people to places on time—-short people for whom being herded out the door acts as an industrial-strength laxative—-I’ve cut myself a little slack in the punctuality department.
But this morning was not Gus's fault. He was ready to go. He wanted to be on time. I wanted him to be on time. Yet, the faster I moved, the more things I discovered were wrong with me. My hair was wrong. My skirt was wrong. When I changed into pants, they made my thighs look less like thighs and more like JAZZ HANDS(!), so I put on a dress. And then I couldn't get my necklace to clasp. And I needed to get my lunch together. And again my hair--GAH! MY HAIR!--so awkward in its growing-out phase. And, oh the clichés! And on and on and on until I looked at the clocks and it was 7:55 or 7:30 or 7:45 or 7:58, and we had to go! Go! Go! Out to the car or we’ll be late!
And walking in to that red brick schoolhouse, listening to those sweet young voices joined together in the pledge of allegiance, I felt as if by being late, I had not only let my son down, but my country and my president too.
What went through my mind when I walked into school was “I need to remember to set the clocks to match the one that’s in the kitchen.”
Maybe that way, if I’m still making us late, I’ll know it's time to figure out what I'm going to do about it.