Three children. Three different crises. ALL HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME. What’s a mom to do?
It was a Monday. And I needed to be in two different places simultaneously. My 11-year-old son was performing at his dance school, Ballet Hispanico’s, annual fundraising gala at the Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan. My 8-year-old daughter needed to be at her temple choir rehearsal on the Upper West Side.
I had it all worked out perfectly. I would take my son to the Plaza, do some parent volunteering for the organization during the dress rehearsal, see his performance, then bring him home. My brother would pick up my daughter from her school bus stop, take her to work with him a few blocks away until my 15-year-old son was done with school. The 15-year-old would pick up the 8-year-old from my brother’s job, take her to choir practice, do his homework in the synagogue’s vestibule, then pick her up and bring her home.
It was like having planes taking off and landing with precision timing. But we were a well-oiled machine—poster kids for “It Takes a Village” child-raising. (For those who are wondering where my husband was during all this, he was at work, earning money so our kids can take dancing and singing lessons and go to school.)
All seemed to be going well at the Plaza (down to my son not squirming–too much–when, for the first time in his life, he had gel put in his hair), until 20 minutes before he was set to go on stage (and about five minutes before their call time). My son realized that he could not find his sandals. The dancers had been given special sandals for this performance, with pennies hot-glued to the soles so they could make maximum noise during their Flamenco number. He’d had the shoes during rehearsal, but then the costume mistress took them to attach more pennies. And now they were GONE!
Everyone sprung into action to look for them. They practically tore the dressing room apart. They checked the bathrooms and the other dressing rooms, just in case.
Meanwhile, I didn’t know it, but my oldest son was having trouble finding something, as well: his sister.
He’d dropped her off at choir practice, then ducked into a temple office to review his chemistry flash-cards. When he came back for her, she was nowhere to be found.
He did not panic. He asked the cantor for help. He asked the security guard for help. They panicked. According to him, “I thought they were going to lock down the building.”
They searched the sanctuary. They searched the restrooms. They searched the classrooms. They searched the outdoor playground (though it was dark, and we hope she’d know better than to go out alone in the dark without telling anybody). They finally found her.
Asleep in one of the back pews. (She’d grown bored waiting for someone to come get her.)
My son said, “I must have walked right by her. She’s so tiny!”
But the drama wasn’t over yet.
Back at the Plaza… Still no sandals. And he needed to go on stage NOW. I tried to help them search. I tried to keep my son calm. He looked like he was about to cry. He didn’t cry. Instead, with no help, advice, or interference from me, he grabbed a pair of sandals a girl had discarded. They weren’t his size. They weren’t the right kind. It didn’t matter. They were close enough to match what the other kids were wearing. He ended up performing in front of several hundred people wearing shoes he’d never practiced in, that didn’t fit, and only moments after he’d nearly burst into tears from anxiety.
The show must go on. And it did.
Nope. Still not done yet.
Once my oldest son found his sister and brought her home, it was time for the final crises of the night. Her earmuffs were missing!
You have to understand, these weren’t just any earmuffs. They had bunnies on them! BUNNIES! My daughter’s love for these earmuffs was disproportionate and all-encompassing. These were earmuffs that prompted strangers to stop her on the street and observe how cute they (and she) was (including a former member of “The Dukes of Hazzard!” Not that my daughter has any idea who Tom Wopat is).
Anyway, they were GONE. My son called my brother, in case she’d left them at his office. No luck.
Tears of infinite sadness (ala “The Princess Bride”) commenced.
Now, to be honest, if I’d been home to deal with this, I’d have just told her to check the school Lost & Found in the morning, and to ask the bus driver about them when he brought her home in the afternoon.
But my 15-year-old went above and beyond. He actually called the school. The school secretary called the bus driver. The bus driver searched the bus. Earmuffs found!
By the time I got home, all was happily resolved.
Without me having done a single thing.
I write a lot of posts about the independence and self-sufficiency that I grant (and/or force) upon my children. And I get a lot of criticism in return (along with threats to call Child Protective Services on me).
But when my three kids have three different, simultaneous crises, and manage to solve them all on their own, I have to presume I’m doing something right.