As parents we try to do our best with our kids and sometimes we get it right and sometimes not so much. Let’s face it, we try to build our careers and please our bosses and we try to build and keep a good marriage and in the process raise smart, happy, well behaved kids, keep up with our friends and aging parents and have some fun along the way. We have a long to do list and we try to fit in grocery shopping, birthday parties, soccer, hockey and dance. We run full speed and yet do our best to get in those all important family dinners. We are stretched thin in those younger child raising years. They are fun, but challenging. I remember running around tired for about 10 years straight. Coffee was my best friend.
I will never forget one particular fall morning after school had already started and the family was working off of a nice routine. My kids were in middle school and I had the morning responsibility to put them on the bus and then I was off to work. Mornings at our house were like many other families: crazy, disorganized and loud until it all came together just minutes before the bus came and like a miracle everyone was moving toward the car with shoes tied and backpacks ready. As we loaded into the car, my son Ben informed me that he had told his science teacher that we lived in the woods and he had volunteered to bring in salamanders for their amphibian unit. He had told his teacher how they hung out in our window wells on sunny days. Of course, I was dressed in my suit as I had a court hearing in the morning and a women’s business lunch, and even though we lawyers don ‘t always have to wear suits to the office, we do when going to court.
I was wearing a skirt, blouse, jacket and hose, and now I had the job of finding amphibians. I looked at his big smile as he explained his excitement with the amphibian unit, as he recited all of the amphibian facts he had already learned. My mind raced as I interrupted him and asked hopefully—can you bring them tomorrow? “No” he replied. They need them today. I tried to explain that it was early morning and with this chill in the air, the amphibians are probably dug down into the mud, trying to stay warm. He said he promised his teacher. So there I was short of time and a dirty job to complete, while in a full suit.
I was trying to meet his expectations of bringing the salamanders for the amphibian unit, but in my head I was thinking there was no way we were going to find them on this chilly morning. I told him to go to the garage and get a plastic ice cream bucket. I took a kneeling pad out to the window well and a glove from the garage. I hoped and prayed as I gently dug in the leaves and yes there they were. It was like winning the kid lottery. I really did not think I would find them, but there were three and they all went into the bucket with some old leaves, sticks and a little dirt. I quickly poked some irregular holes in the top cover of the ice cream bucket as my son was beaming, not realizing the multiple miracles that just took place. Actually finding a bucket, finding the salamanders, and still not late for the bus or Court were all part of the miracle. To top it off I took a quick look at my suit and I was not dirty either. An all around success.
I thought we were home free. I handed them to Ben and said there you go. Let’s go catch the bus. He looked at me with a big frown and innocently reminded me that they have a “no live animals rule” on the bus. My middle schoolers were rule followers. My head flexed onto my back as I sighed heavily and said some dirty words internally. I refused to admit defeat on this day when we already had so many miracles. No bus rule would stop us from our mission. I looked at him and said, you have to take them on the bus, the school needs them so we have to bend the rules for the good of the Amphibian unit. This morning there is no other way. I put the bucket into a grocery bag and concealed it as best as possible. I made him promise not to tell anyone what was in the bag, until he got to school and not to show anyone on the bus what he had.
I made it clear that failure to follow these instructions would ruin the entire mission and he would not be allowed to have the salamanders for the amphibian unit. He was serious and I could tell from his commitment to this project that the salamanders were in good hands. We went to the bus and I again reminded him of his duty and I waved as he took off on the bus, hoping he could keep his mouth shut and not reveal the contents of his paper bag. Salamanders would be a pretty interesting and tantalizing secret to reveal to his friends on the bus. A difficult secret to keep for a young boy, but he did it.
I made it to court on time and the 6th grade class had salamanders for their amphibian unit. When I got home after a busy day Ben presented me with the sweetest Thank you note signed by his teacher and all of the students in the class. It was a good day for a Mom!
There are so many times as parents that we think we maybe could do things better or do more and we beat ourselves up on the things we did not get quite right, but sometimes, just sometimes, everything works out on a particular fall day and we are an ordinary hero to our kids and a 6th grade class who wants to learn about amphibians by looking and touching them and not just reading about them on the internet. Some days we should get an award for what we can or have accomplish as parents.