It was five minutes before 9 a.m. I know because five minutes was exactly the amount of time that I could leave the house with my infant son and not be ridiculously late to meet my friend and her infant son for a walk at our local trail (it would make me just a normal amount of late).
We were right behind my partner who was loading our two-year-old into his car. He was taking our older son to daycare, then going to a 10:30 a.m. doctor appointment. After he got into his car, he must have seen an appointment reminder card, because he quickly got out and said, “My appointment is at 9, not 10:30.” So the two-year-old and his luggage were packed into my car as my partner headed off to his appointment. My sleep-deprived brain could not process messaging my friend to cancel our walk, so the three of us hauled it down to the trail. At first, I reasoned that I would just let her know in person that we couldn’t walk and proceed to take my two-year-old to school. Then I thought, well, maybe the two-year-old can go on the walk with us and I can take him in later. Now that at the time was a fairly dangerous proposition as the two-year-old was in underwear and we were (are) delicately in the midst of a good potty training run. Could he handle the extra time away from modern plumbing? Also, he’s a two-year-old who would have to walk by my side while I pushed his little brother in a stroller.
By the time we pulled up next to my waiting friend, I decided we would go for the walk, but I would leave with the boys a little early so I could get our two-year-old to school at a decent time. Did I mention that when my partner was going to take the two-year-old to school, he had promised him they would stop for a donut on the way? So, I also had to factor having to follow through with someone else’s promise into whatever our plan would be. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Anyways, we went for the walk and my two-year-old was thankfully very good. It also turned out to be our first experience peeing in the woods. (Boys are so lucky.) We made it back to the car, and I unlocked the doors and had the two-year-old get in his car seat while I took care of the baby and stroller. I opened the trunk and started loading our stuff in. I glanced at my phone only to see a text from my partner that his appointment was actually for the next day. I put the phone down. I got the baby into his seat then went to my side. I needed my keys. But where were they? I didn’t have pockets, so they weren’t on me. Did I drop them? I looked around and saw my phone on the ground. How did it get there? Never mind, I need to focus on my keys. Did I put them in the trunk when I was loading things in? I checked – no keys. Did I put them in the baby’s seat? I checked – no keys. Did I look hard enough in the trunk? I checked again – no keys. At this point, the two-year-old is out of his seat and wandering around the car as I feverishly look for the keys. Where did they go?
Listen – I knew they had to be somewhere. I had opened the car door and trunk. Obviously, they were around somewhere. But I don’t have a spare set. Why don’t I have a spare set, you ask? Well, some time previously, I was running late for work. As I was leaving the house for the garage, I didn’t see my normal set of keys, so I grabbed the spare set. I got into the car and went on my way. I turned off my street onto the main road, which happens to be a pretty busy street – in fact, I think it’s technically a highway. As I sped up, I heard what sounded like something hitting the back of my car and falling off. At first, I brushed it off, then I realized that was probably my keys. The keys that I had left on top of my car as I as getting my son out of the car when we came home the night before. Despite running late, I knew I had to turn around and find them. And I did find them on the side of the road – smashed to smithereens. So now I have only one set of keys.
After searching the areas around both car seats, the trunk and the ground about five thousand times each and demanding that my two-year-old help out by looking for them, too, I then lost my phone. I just had it! It was on the ground, I picked it up, I was using it to check the time during my frantic search for the keys. Now someone is playing a trick on me. I’m starting to completely lose it. Was it a ghost? Some vagrant lurking around who somehow snuck my keys and my phone while no one was watching? John Quinones in some weird variation on ABC’s “What Would You Do?” My two-year-old was sensing my frustration, and I was not giving much effort to my attempts to calmly deal with him. I think my last words at this moment were something like, “Well, I guess we’re stuck here.” Maybe there was a swear or two in that statement. And just before the tears started flowing, I looked up and saw my phone on the roof of my car above the baby’s side.
Any sense of relief I could possibly feel was overshadowed by complete embarrassment. I quickly ushered my two-year-old back to his seat on the other side of the car. “Ok, we can get going. I found the keys.” And without even really looking, I grabbed the keys from where I now knew they were – the roof of the car above his side.
The moral of this story: The roof will set you free.
Also, I need sleep.