Like many parents’ weekday mornings, mine is usually filled with the last- minute panic and rushing out the door. On those mornings when Juan has to be at an early meeting, and we cannot drive into work together, I am the lone parent trying to wake the dead as I go through the hallway flipping on lights and rushing to the kitchen to scramble a breakfast, pack lunches, and finally, wrangle kids into the car. It’s always a race against the clock. Nico and Erica’s school charges the parents $5 a tardy, after the first 5 tardies. Diego’s school, the second stop on my route to work, begins at 7:45! I ususally end up leaving the house with my coffee to go, and without make-up. (Yes, I am that woman. The one who puts on mascara during the morning stop and and go traffic). I rush to drop off Nico or Erica at their school and then race across town to make it to Diego’s school before I have to stop in at the office and get “my ticket,” otherwise known as a tardy slip.
So you can understand, why I am a little preoccupied during my morning dash drive through my lovely hometown. I hardly notice the beautiful Pasadena bridge and the sun rising over the Arroyo on the way to Diego’s school. Diego notices my distraction too. I dodge through traffic, only half-listening to his 6 year-old ramblings and his unending loop of Guess What? It’s a little pre-occupation of his own. It goes like this:
“What?” I respond obligingly, yet absently.
“CHICKEN BUTT!” ( I know, he shouldn’t be saying Butt.)
I always fall for it. Especially when I am driving.
“Don’t say ‘Butt.’” I correct him, narrowly missing a commuter bus as it pulls in front of me.
Diego, he is a talker. His constant chatter from the backseat serves as my substitute for morning talk radio. He tells me stories all the way to school . His stories often illicit a “Umm” or “Uh-huh” response from me. He tells me, “Mommy, when you say “Uh-huh” it means you are not listening. Wow! He’s perceptive that kid!
This probably helps explain why I didn’t understand Diego’s story about “No Hats,” which he would share with me on our way to school. Whenever Diego and I turned onto the street near his school, he would tell me, “Mommy, No Hats! Why can’t we wear hats to school? Maybe because it’s too windy and they will blow away?”
“Mmm..Uh-huh,” I respond, as I negotiate a parking space near the school. This went on for several days until it finally dawned on me to ask him what he was talking about.
Diego sighed, as if he knew that I hadn’t been paying attention all these days. He was right.
Diego then explained, “The sign says, ‘No Hats’. It says ‘Hats are not allowed.’”
I looked at him confused. “What sign are you talking about?” He said, this sign:
Maybe I should start paying closer attention. Or maybe Diego should learn to read.