But the real reason for this post has nothing to do with the events that I just mentioned. No, they pale in comparison to what happened after the flood and before the costumes. The story I’m about to tell is worse, way worse.
In case you haven’t been following along with our Mexican adventures. for the last several years, things in Mexico work a bit differently. That’s an understatement.
While it is customary to be two hours late for a birthday party and one hour late for any other event, or, in the case of the Dentist, you just never show up, school rules are different. Very different.
Once the school bell rings, if your child is not inside the facility, the doors are locked and your child is not going to school for the day. And, if you’re late for picking up your child, you get one warning and then your child has to miss a day of school. I’m not going to judge their tardiness or the consequences because while it might not work for Canadians, it works for Mexicans. Besides, if we don’t like it, we can leave.
This morning, I was late (see note about the alarm above for details) and The Kids only made it to school with only a few moments to spare (normally we’re early). My mind was elsewhere thinking about the piece of toast that I’d left at the front door and so I almost didn’t see the two signs or catch the door man say (in Spanish) “All the kids need to be picked up at 11am”.
Every day, the parents ask “What time should I pick up my child today” and every day, the answer is Noon. I’ve never figured out why they ask every day but figure that it has something to do with the fact that you never know if there’s going to be school at all** and you’re at the mercy of hearing the doorman repeat “No school for class X today”. Of course there are never any signs. Except for today.
After I dropped off The Kids, I proceeded to have a cold shower and flood the laundry room. Then, I hopped on the computer for a bit.
Time always flies by and by the time I realize what time it is, it’s time to leave. But not today. No, when I looked at the clock, it was only 11:30am. I had plenty of time to top up my tea and grab the 326 toys that Max makes me bring to school every day for his friends and him to play with. And, I’d still make it in time for Noon with a few minutes to spare.
And then it hit me.
I WAS SUPPOSED TO PICK UP THE KIDS 30 MINUTES AGO!
I have never ran so fast in my life. I covered three blocks in a minute or two. if my keys hadn’t been in my pocket then I would have locked myself out of the house.*** I remember passing my neighbour but didn’t even acknowledge her existence which is quite rude for Mexican culture. I doubt around here that being late for picking up your kids is good enough reason for ignoring someone. If that were the case, no one would ever talk to anyone. The problem was that I could hardly breathe and it had nothing to do with the fact that I was running, uphill, fast.
When I arrived, the door was open and no one was manning it. I ran inside and made it half way to the kids classroom before they called out to me. When I turned around, there they were, standing in the cemented playgroup with their knapsacks on and watching all the teachers get ready for tomorrows “Celebration of Spring”. Safe and sound.
Mexicans joke that they’d be late for their own funeral if they could. Having said that, out of 150 students in the school, The Kids were the only ones (besides one other boy) whose parents had forgotten them. Allow me to correct myself and replace “parents” with “parent”.***
I had forgotten about The Kids.
I caught my breathe and started to apologize profusely to anyone that would listen. The Kids looked at me for a minute and then asked disappointingly, “Are we leaving”. To which I felt like replying “Yes, we’re going home where I will give you two of anything that you want”. When I confirmed that we were in fact leaving, they both immediately protested and said that they wanted to stay and help. I quickly realized that they didn’t notice and/or care that I was late. Not only that but they wanted to stay longer.
So, I did what any parent would do, I went over to the teachers and apologized and then got into a 20 minute conversation**** with them about nothing to do with my tardiness.
As I write this, more than 12 hours after the incident, I swear that my heart is still beating a little faster. If guilt could kill, I would be dead right now. The good news is that the costumes are ready and The Kids are none the worse for wear. As for me, I should get over it, around the time that I’m late for my own funeral.
Have you Ever Forgotten your Child?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) March 21, 2015
Can you guess what The Kids are going to be in the Spring Pageant?
Note that this is Mexico so while there were probably 20 Papelerias that were still open in the city, I opted for choice #1 and knocked on my neighbours door (I knew that they’d be up and they were) and I borrowed their glue.
P.S. The Kids don’t have to be at school until 9:30am tomorrow morning. Guess what time I’ll have them there!?
P.P.S. I could always use the excuse that things got “lost in translation”…
* We were at a party (surprise, surprise) and I didn’t have time before that to make the costume.
** On any given day, you can arrive with your kids at school and the door man will tell you, “Oh, no classes today for Maestra X” and so you turn around and take your kid home. Apparently supply teachers don’t exist in this country. Fortunately for us, The Kids teacher has only been off one day in 3 months and she told us the afternoon before.
*** Ed was downtown doing errands. I guess it could have been worse, I could have locked myself IN the house. Again.
**** I use the term “conversation” loosely. Here it would be called “chisme” which doesn’t have a good translation because it means gossip or rumour in English. If that were the case than all conversations between women here would be gossip.