Long ago – even before I discovered caffeine was the food of the gods – I learned soothing, relaxing techniques to help me cope with life’s frustrations. It was the early 1980s, and I worked at a holistic center. That was where meditation, mind-body connection, and Kit-Kat bars all came together for me in a beautiful burst of serenity. This approach still comes in handy.
We are visiting, staying near family.
“Mom,” my daughter Cassie asks. “Can you babysit Monday? David …”
“AB-solutely,” I interrupt. Yay – grandkids! Love it.
We’re still chatting when the detailed schedule arrives via email, Facebook, and text message: pick-up time/location, activity list, supper info and directions to David’s evening orchestra rehearsal. Her family’s schedule rivals the Olympic Games.
“Um,” I tread gently, “What if …”
“No time for anything extra,” she says, with that serious, instructive tone.
Monday: “Grandpa” and I arrive – ready and relaxed. I am clenching the schedule.
4 p.m.: School intramural basketball (60 minutes, per instructions.)
4:45 p.m.: Surprise! Practice is over early. We follow David into the hallway to find his coat. “David,” I say, “Quick. Let’s wash hands before …”
4:47 p.m.: Surprise again. The coach bellows: “Hey, kids. Another quarter left.” Huh?!?
4:48 p.m.: Back in the gym. Deep breathe, release tension. I am mentally calculating the effect of three minutes’ delay. While I am relaxing.
5:03 p.m.: David and team do a final “Yay, team.” There’s no time for celebrating let’s go let’s go let’s …
5:04 p.m.: Nine-second hand-washing. Good enough.
5:06 p.m.: In the car, David continues the math homework he started between class and basketball. He’s calculating fractions; I’m figuring out how to get across town, a 30-minute trip, during rush hour. We have five minutes, according to the email, Facebook and text message. Grandpa is asking David about his day. Which is not on the schedule.
“Um, Grandma? This doesn’t look like the way home,” peeps a worried-sounding David from the back seat. I give the GPS a well-deserved slap. Grandpa ducks.
5:25 p.m.: Home. The little genius works the complicated array of electronic doors, jumping dog and key within seconds. He’s already eating a fake sausage/cheese/roll thing he popped into the microwave while I’m still taking off my coat. This kid is good.
Me: “Quick! Math! Finish!” I kiss his head (not on the schedule).
Wonderful news. He’s confused by the last math sheet. So are Grandpa and I. We all agree it’s very unclear. We leave it for his parents. Done. Time delay made up.
5:45 p.m.: Exactly one hour, 15 minutes left to do English, supper, pet the dog, a one-minute bathroom stop (for me) and a 20-minute drive to orchestra.
He starts his English, which, intended for fifth grade, is on par with a college freshman course.
“You have 10 minutes for the creative section” I say, as I hear how ridiculous that sounds. But it’s true. It’s what’s called “free-write.” Ten minutes.
I veer off the schedule for 4 seconds to hug him and say, “Have fun!”
I am vigilant about that 10 minutes, darn it. Responsible me, who doesn’t normally pay attention anymore to time.
Nine minutes left.
He’s working, pencil to paper.
I look at the newspaper on the counter. It feels good to sit and let my mind relax. The tension begins to …
“Grandma?” says a little voice, “Isn’t it time to …”
“STOP!!!!!” I scream. It’s been 11 minutes, total.
“Quick, everyone!” I holler to my husband, David, myself, and possibly the dog. “Supper!!!”
Now we are in a fix. I didn’t figure on time to get into the car.
A quick stop at the pizza place.
“David, what do you like? Cheese slice? Veggie? Decaf soda?”
“Cheese. Lemonade,” he chirps.
The slice heats up, I cool down, via two more breaths, and I tell him he can eat in the car en route to orchestra rehearsal. Grandpa Ted and I will eat afterward, when our brains go back to normal function. David smiles at me. He actually may be laughing at me.
Seat-buckled back up, he eats, my stomach growls, and Grandpa asks what’s happening. Aha. Grandpa has smelled the pizza.
“We’re going to David’s rehearsal and we have eight minutes to get there, but it’s only down the road and then I will bring him in and get him settled. David, do you remember I put the money from mommy into your violin case for your snack at break time and then, grandpa, we will go eat and David, do you remember mommy and daddy will pick you up after rehearsal? So relax, grandpa.”
I realize I might not sound quite as relaxed as I am feeling inside.
But I’m happy to help. Really. Because it’s so good to know that while we are doing this, David’s mom and dad can go to their peace-filled, healthful yoga class together.