Finding Solutions to Family Problems

School is the constant source of both pride and consternation for all parents, I think.  My boys came home yesterday with homemade Christmas ornaments and door mice that they’d made.  The ornaments were really cool, I have to admit, and the door mice were simply adorable.

But then come days like today when I have nobody to watch the same-said three children due to the fact that it’s Thursday, they have a half-day, and there’s no extended-day program.  Hannah, my 13-year-old, along with Noah and Sam, the twin 9-year-0lds, needed to be picked up at noon. The issue there was the fact that I was in the middle of a meeting in Oakland, at least two hours away.  I found out about the EDP closure just a day before.

My meeting place: Jack London Square, Oakland
My meeting place: Jack London Square, Oakland

So what do you do?

Well, I have a list of friends I can call, but that’s really hard to contend with every time the school schedule changes.  Like most schools, there are a lot of schedule changes.  It’s not that that’s anybody’s fault, I suppose.  Still, being the sole parent of four kids and three of them go to a school where there’s noon release you’re in a bind.  For me, I was two hours away, which always seems to happen when I need to be able to pick up my kids.

2012-07-29 04.55.21

My oldest daughter, Abbi, had finals up until noon.

She also came up with the solution.

So in the middle of the evening last night we had the discussion . . . what do we do?
“my group is the first to do their final for drama at 11,” she told me.  I asked how long she’d be and it wasn’t the full hour . . . still, the teacher would have to know.  The school would have to give her a pass to get off campus.

Bear in mind, however, that this was roughly 9:30pm at night.  Abbi and I were trying to work out details.  I had a noon meeting and lunch in Oakland.  No way I’m getting there. So I was emailing the drama teacher at 10 at night and calling the attendance office to get a pass for my daughter at 11:30 just so I could get the other three kids picked up.  Then . . . Abbi drops them off, goes to her job, has Hannah fix the boys lunch and wait until either she comes home or I get home at 6.

I’m not saying this is any more work than any other parent has to contend with.  It’s not.  But the difference for me, obviously, is that I don’t have that second parent to help with the solutions.  I am blessed – and I don’t use that word often – with my oldest daughter mainly because she’s now old enough and has always been smart enough for me to bounce those ideas off of her.  Amid all that, though, she’s still my daughter and she looks to me to both come up with the ideas and to ultimately make the decisions.

And that’s been the biggest adjustment over the last couple years, I have to say.  Not just living without the person you loved, that’s a different, emotional challenge.  You learn to embrace the smells, sounds and memories that flood through you when you’re reminded of the person you lost.  But decisions . . . those were always joint ventures.  When we needed to find a way to get the kids it was a negotiation: who took off work last time?  Do you have sick time or vacation?  Do I?  Who does this?  You dance with each other, not in a debate but in a waltz of analysis.  You look at who is affected least and come up with the answer together.

Now, there’s no choice.  I make the decisions.  Yes, I get input from Abbi, but it’s not a joint venture, and it shouldn’t be.  She gives input, even gives me many of the ideas for solutions to our problems.  At the end of the day, though, I have to make that ultimate decision on what to do about it, given the information.

Still . . . I sit here tonight, writing this, and realize that we’ve pulled it off again.  I look at the little door mouse, realize that we’ve figured out how to get the kids supervised for tomorrow, too, since they’re off of school . . . and I smile.

Because how can you not look at a felt door mouse and smile?

The Felt Door Mouse
The Felt Door Mouse
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