By Jane Chin
Today is one of those mornings when I know as soon as I've started the car that I should have gone to the bathroom first, but then we are already late for getting Little Boy to school, and Little Boy insists this morning of all mornings that he wants to keep playing a game on the iPad that, would you believe, is made by a company called "Tantrum Apps".
When Little Boy climbs into the car and onto the safety seat I decide to be helpful by collapsing the iPad stand because I want the iPad to lay neat and flat for Little Boy, and this decision marks the beginning of the end of my peaceful morning.
I do all I can not to close the child safety-seat buckle too fast with anger lest I accidentally clamp a piece of Little Boy's flesh in my haste; not that he isn’t already screaming bloody murder, upset that I touched “his” iPad. (Hey! When will it be mommy’s turn to use it?)
I turn on classical Strauss to tune out Little Boy shrieks while revving the car through the neighborhood (within speed limit). I meet every red light, follow every crawling vehicle, and end up behind every car wanting to turn left on single-lane roads cutting through a Redondo Beach neighborhood. Forces conspire to keep me farther away from school gates that promptly lock at 8:30 a.m.
We arrive at school and I park the car then I unbuckle Little Boy out of the safety belts that he's pushed in protest all the way down to his midriff. We walk stiffly in silence toward the gate that opens as a mother exits and, because she notices me, she smiles and leaves the gate ajar.
I look at Little Boy who looks unsure of how he should look other than pout and I reach into my pocket where I hide the “fun-size” chocolate bar I have been saving to give to Little Boy before the morning blows to bits, and as Little Boy sees me unwrap the bar he reaches up, a drop of drool betraying his eagerness. Although he is still sulking his frown dissolves in filmy saliva of chocolate around his mouth. My frustration sprouts into flagellations of guilt because I am a bad mother who has bribed her 3 year-old child with teeth-rotting junk food.
I tailgate the “Green Line” bus and arrive home to see that I am home at the same time I get home when I start out on time. Then I decide that the universe slows me down with snail-paced drivers and red traffic lights, not to lock me out of the school gates, but to spare me from making the kind of mistake I make in haste that can forever trap my life in regret.