Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:27 a.m., when my nephew came crashing into the room shouting, "Aunt Mollie! I need you to turn off the TV! I don't know how!" My other nephew was right behind him, telling me something about how he wanted to bring two blankies with him when he got out of bed. Here's the thing about kids: the way they see it, you're either asleep or wide awake. They don't think of waking up as a process. It's like, Oh, your eyes are open! Will you fix me a sandwich? And here's the thing about me, post-chemo: I don't really work that way. I've always considered myself a morning person, and even now I'd prefer to be up and at 'em early, if my body will allow it. But I still need a good 10 minutes, and some coffee, to make me ready to greet the world. Ideally.
I was sleeping at my sister's so that I could get the boys off to school in the morning, while she and her husband went to the hospital to see about having that baby she's been carrying around. I gathered that the boys were up by 6:00, and before leaving, my sister set them up in front of the television with instructions to wake me when the show was over. They took those instructions very seriously -- I thought the building was on fire when they jolted me awake -- and that's how I found myself stumbling around, bleary-eyed, looking for the remote control so I could turn off the TV. The much-too-bright TV.
That mission accomplished, I said, "Let's go have some breakfast," by which I really meant "Let's go make me some coffee." "Want to play Go Fish?" my nephew asked on the way to the kitchen. Perhaps he realized how easy it would be to take advantage of me in my precaffeinated state. I put him off. While he got the Corn Pops from the cupboard, I went straight to the freezer, where I knew the coffee would be. It was there -- but the bag wasn't freezing. Even in my sleepy state, I knew this was odd. It wasn't even cold. It was room temperature. And so was everything else in the freezer drawer, which, I realized, had been left ajar overnight. All the frozen veggies and chicken nuggets my sister had stockpiled so my nephews' various caretakers could feed them in her absence: all thawed out. Oh, and the bag of coffee grounds was nearly empty. I gave up on the coffee and set about emptying all the spoiled food out of the freezer while the boys ate their Pops.
Then it was time to get dressed -- it was picture day at school, so the boys needed to look "fancy," as they might say. Well, the almost-5-year-old would say that. The 3-year-old would go to school naked if you let him. He ran around naked for most of the time I was trying to get him dressed: I got him into his underpants, but made the mistake of turning my back for a second, and when I turned around again he was standing there nude, claiming he didn't know where his underpants were. "He hid them somewhere," said his older brother. "Maybe he put them in the freezer." Sigh.
Even so, I thought we'd get out the door in plenty of time. They showed me their "school picture" smiles -- both have perfected the pained grimace proper to school photos at an early age -- and we played a quick round of Go Fish. But I forgot to allow time for the last-minute debate over how many blankies my younger nephew was allowed to carry with him to school. (I told him he had to leave one home. "But I need two, because I cry at home and at school," he explained, through angry tears. I'm not sure I follow his reasoning.) So when we got to the bus stop on Riverside Drive and found it deserted, I had the feeling we'd missed the bus. Of course, the difficult thing about buses is there's no way to tell if you've missed them, or if they're just late, but I didn't want to risk waiting. So we hurried back to Broadway, where we caught the M104 (the nice driver saw us running and waited for us to catch up. Thanks, driver!). "Does this bus go to my school?" my junior-kindergartener nephew wanted to know. "Are we going to be late?" "No," I lied. We hit another red light. "Well, maybe a couple minutes." "How many minutes?" In the midst of all this, I looked up at the line of people boarding the bus, and there in the doorway was: Brian Stokes Mitchell! And this wasn't just a bleary hallucination, either, it was really him. He was with his lovely wife and adorable little boy, also on his way to school, I assume. I wished I had someone to elbow as they walked past us, but my nephews aren't really up on the stars of musical theatre (yet), So I filed away the sighting for you folks. And I felt much better about missing our target bus.
Once the boys were safely delivered to their classrooms, I headed back downtown to restock the freezer with some emergency staples. I stopped on the way to get a coffee and a scone from my good friends at Oren's Daily Roast, because remember, I was negotiating all of this without benefit of caffeine. And after all that I set about a day's worth of work, which is why you didn't hear from me till now.
Oh, and by the way: it's a girl!