As I pulled into the parking lot of the ski hill a near perfect 15 minutes before the start of the boy’s freestyle ski class, I felt a smug sense of satisfaction. Just enough time for him to get his gear on and for me to secure a sweet lunch table by the window. I opened the trunk and immediately knew something was amiss. As in, there appears to be skis, poles and the lunch bag – all the items I carried to the car - but there is no sign of the boys ski bag, otherwise known as the item he was to carry to the car.
“Kelton, you forgot your ski bag!” I said calmly, not at all yelling. That's my recollection anyway.
“What? I didn’t know I was supposed to bring it.”
Lord, keep me from striking this defenseless, half- witted child.
“I told you to grab it on the way out. You walked right by it.”
I can feel my forehead getting hot as I start mentally calculating how long it will take to drive home, get the bag, drive back and get him on the hill with his group. It’s 30 minutes in each direction. I am starting to feel slightly less calm than I would like.
I consider option B which is to call it a day and just go home but that puts me into an even fouler mood as I start doing the math on that one. Let’s see…8 lessons divided by gas mileage times the square root of new ski boots which he has only used three times. Rage rising.
Wisely, the boy hasn’t dared to poke his head out of the car yet, as I stomp around the parking lot, trying to think of what to do. In a tither I decide to risk waking the mother bear, who is still snuggled deep in hibernation after a late night at the Lacrosse game. I have to abide the pecking order and tread carefully.
“Hello? Guess what…the boy forgot his ski bag and I’m furious and I was wondering if you could run it out here?”
“Who is this?” she asks sleepily.
She knows who it is, but I heed that as a warning shot.
“Okay never mind. How about I meet you halfway at line 11.”
“Why are you boys always waking me up on my day off?”
There is a pause as she considers the act of leaping out of a warm bed into a cold car.
“I’ll be there in 15.”
That’s good. Now I get to get back in my car and begin the rant.
“Kelton…I am very very angry. I packed your bag for you, I made your lunch and I loaded your skis. You had one job, which was to get that bag to the car and you didn’t do it.”
This is met with head down silence as we begin the long uncomfortable drive back to the rendezvous. My mind is still spinning a mile a minute, trying to come up with suitable consequences for this act of absent mindedness. I want something between taking away the iPod and being executed by firing squad. I mean, what kind of a kid walks out the door to go skiing without his boots and helmet? When I was a kid I never forgot my boots. Well I did once, and my dad had to drive back home to get them. Okay, so now that I think about it, the scatterbrain gene didn’t go recessive in this case.
I have another concern though, and that is that I caused this, not through genetics, but by being too proactive in helping this kid with his things. I’m always hustling around, gathering up his equipment for various sports, making sure he doesn’t forget anything. It would appear that the only thing I have accomplished was teaching him he doesn’t need to remember anything, because I’m doing it all. Mouth guard for lacrosse? Check. Elbow pads, shin pads? Check. Did you tape your stick for ball hockey? Never mind – you take too long – I’ll do it.
That’s the thing. In my mind, if I didn’t do these things: a) we would never get out the door and b) he would show up with half his equipment missing. So, it seems I’ve created a two headed co-dependent monster. He depends on me to remember everything and I depend on him to forget everything. It feeds my worry, which apparently I thrive on.
When kids come to our house for sleepovers, they always pack up their own bags and have everything ready to go when the parent comes to pick them up. When I go to pick up my kid from a sleepover, there is the 20 minute ritual where he wanders around, trying to gather the stuff he has strewn all over his hosts house. If his bag is packed and at the door, I can be sure that the mom has done it for him because I’m pretty certain he is incapable of putting a matched pair of anything into a container. One mitt sure, but not two. Ipod yes, but iPod charger, no way. The good news is that he has a change of clothes stashed at each of his friends’ houses. I know that if he looked in the lost and found at school, he could recover enough hats to outfit a small hattatorium.
Suffice it to say, by lunch time, I had calmed down enough to make him a sandwich and send him back out skiing. He was only 40 minutes late for his morning lesson, which wasn’t too bad, so no real harm done. However, there is going to be a clear discussion before next Saturday about who is going to pack what gear, and maybe, just maybe we have both learned our lesson.