We trundle in the semi light of early morning, never the best time of the day.
“Dark, dark, dark.”
“It is be night? When it is be day? Where is being dah sun?”
The move to Daylight saving has dire effects in some households. I remind everyone of the vagaries of time travel as we stumble and bumble our way to school on foot.
As we approach the traffic light I prompt them.
“Now don't forget to say hello to the Lollipop lady.”
They gasp, suddenly alert and searching.
“Lollipop! Lollipop? Where it is be dah lollipop!”
“You know, the lady we see every day at the traffic lights.”
“Why is she called a lollipop lady?”
“Because…..er…….because she holds up a sign that looks like a lollipop. Isn't she called a lollipop lady here?”
“Never heard that before.”
“Really? What do you call them here?”
“Lollipop ladies. Oh I know….er…….traffic…..wardens? No that doesn't sound quite right either.”
“Crossing guards mom!”
“Ah. That makes sense.”
“Anyways…..I gotta have one.”
“Have one what?”
“A cell phone.”
“A cell phone?”
“Yeah, you know, one of those lil phones!”
I see her eyes roll and the world weary sigh of sarcasm.
“Maybe when you are older.”
It suddenly dawns on me, why I have tennis elbow when I don't play tennis. I hold one small hand encased in a glove on my left. I hold the little frozen hand firmly, whilst the rest of his body sparks, hops and jumps with intermittent Karate chops and Pokemon battle moves. My right arm is extended out and cupped around my other son's shoulder. My forearm acts as an anti-reversal guard and helps keep him propelled forward. It also serves as a parachute hook, to slow the fall of his next collapse. It’s an unfamiliar posture for 58 minutes, once a day, for an old body to learn.
“But everyone has one!”
She lists her class mates’ names, those kiddie winkies in possession of a cell phone.
“Didn't you have a cell phone when you were a kid, or hadn't they been invented.”
It's not really a question, more of a put down.
I trawl my memory bank. I have vague recollections of actors on the telly, a phone the size of a house brick clamped to their ears and a yard of aerial whipping around like a fly fisher. Was that the 70's or maybe the 80's? What's a decade anyway? “Yes, people had cell phones but we couldn't afford one.”
“I don't dance,” he sings as he stomps, coupled with a few soft shoe shuffles on a different beat, quoting from Highschool Musical II.
“Sheryl has Hanna Montana on her ring tone. It went off in class yesterday. We all heard it.”
“How delightful for your teacher.”
“Hey,batter,batter, hey battter,batter swing.”
“Don't sing that!” she snaps
“I’ve go to just do my thing,” he continues oblivious.
“Hey,batter,batter, hey batter,batter swing.”
“Mom! Make him stop singing that! Anyways you've gotta phone now!”
“How long have you had it?”
“Let me see……..your dad bought it for me when I was pregnant, for emergencies…..so…….that's 7 years ago. There you go, if you can afford it, you can buy one when you're 40.”
I wallow in the bath of smug, self satisfaction having defeated a ten year old. I bask for approximately seven and a half seconds, as we pass the Middle School, five minutes away from our Elementary school, when a car pulls into the curb. Pal jumps out of the car where they two pals squeal with girlish glee in a cloud of hormones. The window rolls down, “Hi Nat!” She leans over her older daughter's lap in the passenger seat, just in time to attend her own Middle School.
I bend, “good morning.”
“You gonna walk home affer school?” the car engine idles.
“Er…..um….” Where are my worms when I need them?
“Coz I gotta get ma windshield fixed at one,” she taps the glass. “May not be finished by 1:15 early school pick up. I don wan her walkin home alone.” I look at pal. I look at pal's leatherette booted feet with two inch heels, perfect for the catwalk. I am dubious that pal has ever walked to her own home.
“That's o.k. I'll be collecting them up in the car.”
“Great! I'll pick her up later from yur house,” she calls as she shifts the car into gear and away.
My house? I'm not dropping her back to her own home? How did that happen? There again, I could hardly drop her back to an empty house. We walk the last three minutes to school while my brain counts children's heads, calculates how to slot seven children into my car and where to strategically place four special needs children in the milieu.
I should have paid more attention in math class or maybe game theory?