If my social media feed is any indication, every single child in the world had their last day of school last week.
Everyone, that is, except my son.
Who still has FOUR WEEKS LEFT TO GO.
Oh, that’s right. His last day doesn’t happen until mid-June. Because our local schools hate parents. And summer. And sanity.
Of course, being that he’s in preschool, the demands placed on both myself and my son are pretty low. So as much as I’m dying to have a very strict summer schedule of absolutely nothing, the problem isn’t that we have one more month of rigorous scholarly obligations (since pretty much our only requirements are that we’re both wearing pants when I drop him off). No, the problem is that I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that is within walking distance of my son’s school. Nice, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. Back in September when I was naive and happy and and hadn’t pulled out all my hair. Back before I realized how exhausting it would be to also tote his toddler sister with us every morning and afternoon.
Have you ever had to walk anywhere with a toddler? If so, you have my deepest condolences. You are a superhero and don’t let anyone tell you any different. If not, well, what’s the best yet nerdiest way I could possibly explain it to you? It’s like…it’s like taking the journey to Mordor every single day. And at this point in the year, I’ve turned into Gollum in both looks and personality.
Or maybe that’s a bad analogy. Because those hobbits had it fairly easy. For instance, they were able to leave the house. Just like that. They only had to grab the one ring to rule them all and some snacks, and BOOM. They were on their way.
Meanwhile, our journey begins long before we even open the door. There’s the five-minute fight about why we have to brush our teeth and another ten minutes trying to solve the mystery of why there is not a single pair of matching shoes in the entire house and then, my favorite, the daily wrestling with my 2-year-old to put on a fresh Pull-Up while simultaneously arguing with her about why we should take the stroller today. (An argument I lose. Every time.)
I bet Gandalf never had to watch in exasperation as Frodo ran around laughing maniacally with a diaper on his head.
Then, upon immediately exiting the house, I’m already being bombarded with requests for second breakfast. But a second breakfast for the world’s pickiest eater.
“Can I have a snack?”
“It’s eight o’clock in the morning.”
“BUT SNAAAAACK. I’M SOOOOO HUNGRY.”
“Fine. I think I have some ancient Teddy Grahams in my bag.”
“I don’t know. The ones shaped like Paw Patrol, I think.”
“They literally taste the same.”
“…*bursts into tears*…”
You know, I don’t remember Bilbo ever complaining that his stale bread wasn’t bear-shaped.
And then there is the pace. In the time it took a fellowship of nine people to cross all of Middle Earth, we are still within nine feet of our porch. Because while we may not be battling orcs, there are seasonal obstacles we must constantly overcome. For example, in the fall, every single leaf that has fallen off a tree must be picked up, examined and handed to me. And I must hold onto them FOR ETERNITY. In the winter, there is snow. Snow that has to be picked up, kicked at, sat in, licked and thrown. Spring brings flowers. Flowers that MUST be picked regardless of the fact that they are the prized tulips of the scary lady down the street who is definitely going to murder me if my daughter picks one more from her garden. And late spring brings out the bugs. The bugs that must be inspected. At bug level. Lying on the ground. Then picking them up and accidentally squishing them, prompting an exhaustive dialogue about what is death and where do things go when they die.
Of course, this is all only if she’s in a good mood. If she’s in a bad mood, say, because I won’t let her run out into oncoming traffic, she’ll sit down and refuse to move. And when I pick her up, she hits me in the face and kicks her shoes off.
I would gladly give up a finger to Smeagol, maybe even two, if just once, ONCE, we could make the ten minute walk to preschool in ten minutes.
Of course, the good mom in me, the one who realizes what a beautiful and fleeting moment in time childhood really is, wants to relax and just enjoy this time; to slow down on these daily walks through our beautiful town with the two people I love most in the world and let it all sink in.
But the human in me, the one who has a natural aversion to torture, is internally screaming every curse word I know and is ready to burn down the entire goddamn world because no one can be forced to move this slow and not lose their mind. Especially considering that we have to turn right back around and make the journey back. A journey back that takes so long it could also easily be stretched across three three-hour movies.
And worst of all is the knowledge that in the afternoon, we have to do the whole thing over again.
So, yeah, those hobbits had it easy. But at least I’ll always have my precious.