One morning, when the husband was away, the daughter sighed wistfully, as we piled into the car to get to her school on time, and said, “I miss Appa. I miss the action before going to school.”
“What do you mean?” I asked guardedly. This is the sort of conversation that will lead to promises involving television time, chocolates or extended bed-times, and drama about broken promises for things that should not have been promises at all in the first place.
“Well…you know how you get things ready the previous night and then we come in the morning and take everything and leave?”
“Well..we’d never do that if Appa was around would we? We’d run, and you’d run and there is more, I don’t know, FUN!” said the daughter.
I could not deny this allegation.
School-going time is one packed with drama, hilarity, perplexity, action and yawns. Feathers ruffled at this time smoothen themselves out before we get to our various institutions and good humor and charm overtake the retelling of it in the evenings and the family hums along with its customary cheer once more.
We also have strange customs and rules such as ‘Check the rear-view mirror till the car gets to the main road.’ I have run after the car on several occasions looking like a windmill flailing my arms, waving the latest piece of homework, or some paper that is required to be handed in. It is very hard to do that. Windmills function beautifully because they don’t run.
One time, I was charging behind the snorting car, looking like a pumped up rhinoceres because the daughter forgot her shoes. Her SHOES! I ask you. She explained that she likes to relax in the car and put on her shoes, so she can chill at home. When I told my friends this, they didn’t bat an eyelid. They said they always have an extra pair of shoes in the car for just such emergencies.
The time when the check-rear-view mirror became a rule was on a particularly cold day in the Winter. The temperature gauge was mercilessly pointing at sub-zero and the daughter forgot her lunch-box. The house inside was toasty and warm, and I had forgotten how cold Californian winters could get. I charged after the car barefoot, running a sprint, with a lunch bag in my hand. My athletic coaches in high school always thought I performed best when I had a dog chasing me causing my heart to pump like it was powered by an industrial pump, but I wish to tell them that I perform pretty well when barefoot on sub-zero roads as well. The car, already late, was doing its best to keep the distance between us level. I was running and creating such a ruckus, some geese stopped their flight mid-air to see who the dickens was rivaling their squawking.
Luckily, the car’s merge into the main road was somewhat delayed because of the traffic and I managed to bang the car from behind and cause the husband to turn around. The sheepish daughter took her lunch box, had the sense to thank me for the food later that evening, and all was laughed at, but it is now a rule. Everyone has to look at the rear view mirror before going ANYwhere.
When the husband travels, I throw my lackadaisical side aside and step into the role of The Efficient Baxter. Since I am rarely the Efficient-Person, I do a sincere job at it when I do step up, and I cannot deny, it snuffs the joy out of the process.
With the husband back, The Efficient Baxter has taken a break again, and we scrambled most satisfactorily this morning. I threw a well-aimed jacket through the open car window as it left, and received a beaming smile and a Thumbs-Up from the occupants.