I'd just stepped out of the shower, dressed but hair sopping-wet, no make-up and was pulling together a lunch for Charlotte when my cell phone rang. It was Scott, who should have been picking Sam up from school at that very moment for a father/son lunch date.
"I'm not going to make it. You have to pick Sam up."
My morning thus far had been spent compiling the two large bags worth of intricate details apparently required to entertain 20 first graders for an hour at their holiday party. And two errands. And wrapping Christmas gifts. And getting Charlotte ready for a nap. And a late shower.
So over to school I headed, after screaming frantically to a confused Charlotte, "Get your boots on! Now! We have to get your brother!" Adrenaline rushing through my veins, imagining Sam sitting by himself in the office, crying quietly into his hands as he watched the clock tick minutes by, one by one, Parentless. Unloved.
I burst through the office door to the sight of our sweet principal in a holiday-themed Christmas tree sweatshirt. She took one look at my heaving chest, wet hair, make-upless face and guided me to a chair. I babbled something like, "Is Sam here? Did he come to the office? Did he leave?"
"Why don't you just have a seat here
She tracked down Sam, who had completely forgotten about his lunch anyways, and I took both kids back to the house where a sorrowfully repentant Daddy brought an (unfortunate, unbeknownst to us) offering of McDonald's chicken nuggets, fries and Dr. Pepper for the two men. Side note in defense of Dad: it really was not his fault he was late. Really.
Charlotte went down for a cozy nap. It began pouring rain. Snow melted everywhere. More rain. Scott took Sam back to school. My friend came over to stay with Charlotte while I packed up all the party supplies, in the rain, and drove two blocks to school. Torrential downpour continued.
1:55 pm. The entire school was gathered in the gym for their annual Holiday Sing-a-Long. I could hear sweet voices warbling words to Hark the Herald faintly from down the hallway. I went immediately to the classroom, hoping to find my fellow party moms, unpacking their supplies and setting up the games.
Empty. Lights off. No moms. No supplies. 15 minutes until Partytime.
I unpacked my things for the ornament decorating craft, the individual cookie decorating kits and started figuring out where we would set up the games. And looked at the clock.
"Well, it's still 10 minutes until the party, they'll come."
My cell phone buzzed in my back pocket. I took it out and glanced it. "___________ School." Huh. That's weird, the principal must have recorded a message and sent out a voicemail. Sure don't have time to pick that up right now.
Next, I laid out the SEVEN holiday printables (in sets of 20) that I'd thought would be helpful, having learned my lesson with a chaotic Halloween party filled with rambling children who'd finished their game/craft/snack with 18 minutes left and nothing to do. Rookie room-mom mistake. I'd learned MY lesson, yeah I did. I was prepared this time.
Then another mom came, thankfully, completely prepared and calm. The third mom came with her game and adorably decorated fruit cups.
Two minutes until the kids show up expecting their party. We are still at this point missing a mom and the main snack----snowmen sugar cookies that they will decorate and then eat.
NO "TREAT" SNACK YET. I start to sweat under my armpits in an alarming way.
But wait, a hesitant man approaches the doorway with a flat, white box in his hands. I almost attack him, in a desperate-suburban-mom sort of way.
"Are you so and so's dad? Is (mom)
He looks startled. "Uhhhh, yes. The cookies. She. Not. Coming." He hands me the box and backs slowly away from the doorway.
I begin to sweat profusely from more areas then just my armpits. Ok. We can do this. Three moms but Sam's teacher is amazing and would totally help us out with a game. Plus, we have the cookies. It'll all be ok.
My friend "D" makes the mistake of visiting the room to check in on us. I pounce on her as well. "HEY!" How YOU doing? Wanna stay? How do you feel about relays??"
She gamely smiled and dug in, thankfully willing to stay and help us out despite having been at school for another event and having her five year old with her. AN ANGEL SENT FROM HEAVEN, little did I know.
My doom is about to strike.
The classroom phone rings. I walk over to the teacher's desk and glance at it. "School Nurse."
"Should I get it?" I asked her, wondering what was up. Well, too late now.
2:15pm. Party time. Perplexingly, no class yet. Three minutes tick by, I attempt to place photo ornaments on each child's desk but have no idea where each child is sitting. It's not very effective.
Then, I see Sam's teacher in the doorway, the children lined up nicely after her. I see her start to say, "Did you hear…"
And the nurse's aid comes tearing down the hallway and shouts from behind the teacher through the door, "Are you Sam's mom?? He's in the nurse's office throwing up! He threw up in the all School Sing-A-Long!"
What wasn't said, but implied in a loving and gentle way, "Why don't you pick a D*&am% phone lady!!"
Sam's teacher looked at me with her big, brown, gentle, all-knowing teacher eyes and my hands started to shake, full of undecorated wooden photo ornaments.
Mind racing, unsure of what to say, guilt beginning to build quickly at the idea of bailing on my fellow party-moms, I thrust the crafts into her hands, babble unintelligible garble about how run my game and start to gather my bags together. Then I remember her class gift, that I'd wanted to give a little speech and explain one part of it. I panic and shout, "But your gift…!" and everyone is staring at me like, "Please, please just go remove your barfing child from the premises."
So I left them. And they would do fine. Until the next thing hit. Literally. No pun intended.
I ran down the hallway into the nurses office, through the doorway and was greeted with a teary, red faced, actively throwing up Sam. Throw-up all down his clothes. "Oh Buddy. Poor Buddy." He had missed the garbage can.
A beleaguered-looking janitor trails Sam into the nurses office, evidently having just finished cleaning up the mess in the gym. I feel badly for him and say, "I wish I'd brought some cookies for you," and then realize that perhaps, eating cookies isn't very appealing to him in that very moment. As he cleans up my son's very own tossed cookies.
Our friend, the assistant secretary bellows helpfully from her desk, "He's the tenth child today! Ten children have thrown up in school today!"
I now REALLY want to buy that janitor a beer.
Sam and I head home. We clean him up, put on jammies and make a nest of towels on the couch and cozy up with a movie and the big red throw-up bucket.
An hour passes, I'll spare you the details. The doorbell rings and it's my friend THE ANGEL SENT FROM HEAVEN returning back from the party with a bag of Sam's things and leftovers from the party.
"Did you hear?" she says,
"Hear what?" I ask.
"About the fainting. After you left (sweet girl in Sam's class)
So that's it folks. Pretty much the party from hell. I just emailed Sam's teacher saying I wished I'd put a really good, really BIG bottle of wine in her class gift bag today. She's going to need it tonight.
I'm going to need it tonight.
P.S. Sam is currently doing fine. He's kept down a sprite and some saltines and is, at the moment, playing Horse with his Dad in Charlotte's room. Praise Jesus. Hold strong people, it's rough out there.