Saturday, March 1, 2008

Relative Math

God had proclaimed a snow day.

The County had declared a two hour delay.

The Jesuits apparently have a chronological system all unto themselves. A two hour delay means school starts at 9:20 a.m. So my son arrived via bus and Metro at school forty minutes late. He was assigned JUG. (Justice Under God, detention for all those non S.J. educated).

My argument that 2 hours+an 8 o’clock starting time equals ten could not defeat the emotionally indifferent “Did you read the parent’s handbook?”

I don't read instruction manuals either but usally, in English, 2 hour delays mean 2 hour delays.

My other kids got the day off in its entirety.
I lost my car keys.

Seven children fed, dressed, coated, mittened, scarfed and hatted even! Seven children loaded into the car with lunches packed for four. Seven children sitting waiting for Mom to drive them…and she can’t find her keys.

Even worse, Mom thinks she knows where the keys are…somewhere under the snow from shoveling the night before to clear the walk.

Now I could have just called and said, “Car trouble,” but with four children at the same school, odds were the truth would have come out anyway. I could just see my five year old brightly marching into her classroom to explain she got the day off because Mommy couldn’t find her car keys. So I ‘fessed up to the school. The secretary was still laughing when she hung up.


So the kids pile out of the car and explode into the home. By the time I unload my stuff and the baby, they have scattered to the four corners of the world, one on computer, two playing Nintendo, two are raiding the refrigerator for a second breakfast and one has buried herself back in the blankets with a book. Blowing my whistle (a’la Captain Von Trap), I summoned the horde.

Do any of you know what exponents are?

The two oldest raise their hands, eager to show off to the others what they know.

“Good.” I thrust a calculator in one child’s hands and a pencil and paper in the other’s.

“ You. Add this up. You. Check her math.”

You, all six of you come in the door. You drop your coats –those of you that can, (6), and gloves (12), scarves (6), hats (6), lunch boxes (4), backpacks (5), shoes (14), socks (13) how does that happen? and the baby comes in with her car seat, blanket, baby bag and then you add my purse and bag and coat and I have…seventy two things to put away. Add to that five beds to make…, the eight meals already served, the spoons, cups, plates and napkins, (32 items) and you’re lucky we even got in the car!

They are all looking at me blinking, waiting for the grande finale.

If you would like to eat before nine o’clock tonight…message received before she’s even finished pushing buttons to give me a grand total…they began scrambling.

Lessons learned…The Miracle of Compound Interest

I still haven’t found my keys. I've reshoveled the walk and walked the yard where I might have dropped them. I remember losing my student id and keys in the snow in Southbend Freshman year in early October. In April, I found them thawing by the sidewalk. At least it isn't as long a wait.

We’ll be able to drive tomorrow regardless, I’ll cannibalize my husband’s keys, but I have offered a ten dollar reward after offering a two dollar award and having no takers even for a cursory search. When I asked my son why he wasn’t interested in the new bounty being offered, he smiled, “Well, I have a lot of shopping to do for Birthday month.”


“I figure if I wait a few more hours, you’ll raise the reward to $20.00.”
"Fink!" I'm thinking. "Fat chance." I say. "I could buy a whole new set of keys for that."

Birthday month is the season from March 8 to April 13th, when one cousin, two sons and two daughters have celebrations honoring the days they first started making their needs publically known. Usually Easter is sandwiched somewhere in there too, so it is a time overflowing with cake and celebration despite Lent.

We suffer our sack cloths and ashes in other ways…

Any parent who has ever accidentally won at Candy Land knows the game was designed by someone who either really hated kids or loved punishing grown-ups. Being a snow day and unable to go anywhere, I couldn’t weasel out of playing it by giving the adult excuse of “Have to run errands.”

So we played. It just doesn’t satisfy a three year old or a two to say “Good game.” So I go in planning to throw the game. On more than one occasion, I have deliberately miscounted to avoid the great slide of doom for my offspring, or self sacrificed and sent my own piece careening down so I could endure another 15 minutes of spinning the dial and moving the little happy people up the ladder.

It is a tedious experience, such that I have considered adding numbers to the number wheel like 20 and 15 to speed up the pace. Then it hit me. Those Jesuits used Candyland Math to get through the day.

So What Have I Learned?

Thinking of creating a Parent Manual with the option of an Evening two hour delay which would require that bed time be moved up 80 minutes in the event of a snow day or a mental emergency on the part of an adult.

I summoned the kids. "I'm setting the timer." I push 30 minutes. "The bounty for the keys is 10 dollars. If the keys are found in the next 30 minutes, you will get the ten bucks. After that, you get nothing but thanks."

Candyland toddler girl found the keys in five minutes. Wonder if I can swap the ten spot for another round of Candyland.

Moral: There is none, except don't lose your keys and try!

1 comment:

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Hey! You're mixing up Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, you fool!

I always carry a spare key in my purse. Because I lose my keys all the time. I cannot imagine how bummed you were not to be able to get all those kids off to school. Well, actually, I can.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!