Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Journey of the Shoes -- Or -- Maybe We Should Just Bag the Whole Thing

I had completed my morning ablutions and was perched at the edge of the bed, warily eyeing the sock in my hand.

Now I realize that for some people, perhaps even most people, putting on one's socks is not an arduous task. For me, however, it amounts to strenuous exercise -- what with the bending and all. (It's enough to make me wonder, sometimes, if perhaps I should get more into shape.) I was therefore fully engaged in this endeavor when I heard Long Suffering Spouse come back into the house.

LSS had just dropped off Younger Daughter at the home of the girl with whom she carpools to Orchestra class, four days a week. We take turns running this shuttle, one week on, one week off. During the off weeks, like this one, I have more time to stress about putting on my socks.

LSS does not drop Younger Daughter off at the girl's actual home, not ordinarily. By the time Younger Daughter finally arrives in the morning, her car pool companion and the girl's father are in their car, at the end of their street, ready to turn onto Talcott and race like the wind to the North Shore. Orchestra class meets at 7:00 a.m.

Younger Daughter's habitual tardiness is a source of continuing stress for LSS, and this morning had been no exception. Like most teenage girls, apparently, Younger Daughter prefers extended stays in the bathroom, requiring another half hour to select her clothes and dress herself beyond that. (I wonder sometimes how much worse it might be if Younger Daughter attended a school which didn't require uniforms.) During the weeks that I'm not driving, LSS must shower, dress and hector Younger Daughter about why she still isn't downstairs -- all within that last half hour. This sort of routine can cast a pall on the rest of the morning.

But this morning was exceptionally bad; I could tell that from the way LSS slammed the front door. Younger Daughter must have done something out of the ordinary, I thought.

As if on cue, LSS called up the stairs, "Do you know what she did?"

Now I could have answered, in all honesty, that I had not seen Younger Daughter that morning; that I was busily engaged in my morning sock ceremony; and that it would therefore have been impossible for me to ascertain what Younger Daughter had done.

That would have been a mistake.

So I carefully answered: "No. What happened?"

"She left her soccer shoes here! Doesn't she have a game today? What is the matter with her? She can't play without shoes!"

These remarks may have gone on a bit longer than this, and they may have become repetitive, but LSS was letting off steam. She built to her conclusion: "And I'm not bringing them to her!"

In the minutes that followed, I learned that Younger Daughter had fussed and fidgeted even more than usual this morning. She no doubt made more than one trip out to the car in the driveway, going back inside to pick up this or that, maybe her lunch, maybe something else. Younger Daughter did have her first JV soccer game yesterday; she may have been excited about that. She was definitely not excited about the prospect of 7:00 a.m. Orchestra, or about carpooling. She feels that the other girl's waiting at the end of the street rather rubs it in about Younger Daughter's tardiness, without conferring any significant advantage in terms of arriving more promptly at the school. This has never motivated Younger Daughter to be ready on time, however.

This morning Younger Daughter had a bag for books, another bag for her uniform skirt (why she couldn't wear it, even over the lounge pants that the girls favor, is not something I presume to understand), perhaps another bag for lunch. There were, according to LSS, five million bags in all. This may have been a slight exaggeration. But the point was that, however many bags there may have been, Younger Daughter's soccer shoes were in none of them.

These were brand new shoes. We'd just bought them Sunday, after LSS realized that Younger Daughter -- who was complaining that her feet hurt -- was wearing the soccer shoes she'd worn (and worn out) in 8th grade, two years before.

"And I'm not going to bring them to her," LSS told me again. "I can't go now; I have to be at school." (LSS teaches at the grammar school that all of my children attended, and which Youngest Son still attends.) "And by the time school's out, it'll be too late."

LSS was not hinting for me to do anything. On the contrary, she expressed the fond hope that this failure to bring shoes would cause Younger Daughter to be benched (probable) and would awaken Younger Daughter to the need to become better organized (in my opinion, not likely).

I did, however, volunteer to deliver the shoes. It was a sunny morning, and I could take Sheridan Road and Lake Shore Drive into the city. I don't do that very often, and it is a beautiful drive. If I could get to the parking garage before 9:00 a.m., this little detour would only cost me $14.50 -- the difference between the price of taking the train and the price to park, plus the cost of whatever gasoline I burned in the 22 year old car available for my use.

"And she wanted a Gatorade, too," LSS told me, adding more detail to the morning's confrontation. "She finally gets in the car and the she asks if she can get a Gatorade. I said 'fine' and she said forget about it. So we left."

And LSS was still bothered by the 5,000,000 little bags: "If she had everything in one bag, like the boys do for sports, then she wouldn't forget things." So we found a bag, one of the bags we'd used for our recent Arizona trip. In went the shoes and the Gatorade, and out the door went I.

The delivery was accomplished without incident. At Younger Daughter's all-girl school they are wary of male visitors. The custodian eyed me suspiciously as I walked in the front door, not relaxing until I headed directly to the office. The bag was taken in with the understanding that it would not be delivered to Younger Daughter until after school. This seemed fine with me: If Younger Daughter realized what she'd forgotten during the course of the day, she could sweat it out until the end -- some stimulus for behavior modification in future -- and still allowing her to play in today's game. But, what with the time expended in identifying the right bag to bring and all, I didn't make it downtown before 9:00 a.m., and had to pay the full $25 to park.

But that's not the punchline. No, the punchline concerns the bag: Last night, when LSS picked Younger Daughter up from the game, the bag was nowhere in evidence. LSS inquired about the bag and received a typical teenage nonresponsive response -- on the order of, "I've got it, don't worry about it."

Well, this morning the bag was still nowhere to be seen. And LSS, while driving Younger Daughter to the other girl's house, inquired specifically -- and found that the bag that was supposed to help Younger Daughter get more organized is languishing in her locker at school.

I was sitting on the edge of the bed this morning, holding a sock and preparing myself for the struggle to put it on, when LSS came home....


Anonymous said...

And the cycle continues....

You know Curmudgeon, reading your posts just makes me want to put my 2 up for adoption before they reach double figures....

Excellent post.

susan said...

So. I guess this means they DON'T grow out of that stage where you have to ask them to do/not do the same thing 800 billion times?


Linda said...

Here I thought I was the only that sat on the edge of the bed with socks in hand and prolonged the inevitable! I think that just the act of putting on one's socks commits you to then following through with shoes and everything else which ultimately leads you to having to head out the door to work. It's the whole work thing that gives me pause with my socks.

Don't feel too badly about not having an organized teenager, I can lament right along with you on this one!

emmapeelDallas said...

Ah, it makes me glad none of mine are teenagers any more! Although the 28-year-old has recently moved back home...*sigh*

Excellent post!