All family members notified that Tommy has to be in Lenoir City from 6pm to 7pm (that’s a 30 minute drive one way from the house) and Noah has to be at a scout meeting from 6pm to 8pm (5 minutes from house). Some people will eat at IHOP.
We have only one working car. Plans made with scout leader to allow Noah to be dropped at his house at 5:20.
All family members will be going.
Troops to be dressed with clean faces and wearing coats. Reminders are shouted through the house. Noah gets scout supplies. Tommy gets attired for horse riding. Sarah helps Amy. Mom and Dad tag team a messy diaper change on Evan. The older children try to forget their coats or replace appropriate winter coats with light wind breakers. (other techniques include the "I have my coat but I am carrying it instead of wearing it" loophole) Inspections are had as Dad paces with the clock ticking over time.
Loading occurs in shifts to avoid blockages. Noah and Amy are sent first followed by Sarah with instructions to load and buckle Evan. Tommy, often the straggler, is ushered toward the van. Mom and Dad "dog proof" the house removing temptations, such as the kitchen garbage can, from reach of Molly. Dad heads to the car to find Tommy in dispute with Noah over the all important, favored seat because we all know that the other 6 seats suck and the rear seat on the right side of the van is far more comfortable than all the rest. General rule is first to the car gets the choice seat but this makes it difficult for the other two rear seats to be filled–kinda like taking the aisle seat at the movie theatre before the middle seats are filled–so fights always ensue. Sarah cannot sit in the middle seat of the back row because that would squeeze her between her brothers and she must have minimal interaction with her brothers otherwise she might have to acknowledge their existence. Dad nips this in the bud explaining Noah will be first out and Tommy knows he will shortly have the Holy Grail of Butt Cushions. We leave the house at 5:30 to make the first drop-off at 5:20.
5:35, fifteen minutes behind schedule, Noah is deployed to the scout leader’s house with prayers that he will mind himself for the next 2.5 hours. With 20 minutes left to make the 30 minute drive to Lenior City, Dad makes mild exceptions to the traffic laws to buy a little time. Passengers are in good spirits. 6:03 Tommy is deployed to STAR for his riding lesson and I explain that I will have my noisy distractions just a phone call and few miles down the road. Dad is talking and misses turn to the interstate so the drive to IHOP takes a bit longer than anticipated. 6:18 Mom, Dad, Sarah, Amy and Evan deploy for nourishment.
Meals are ordered in haste. Evan quickly decides that tonight is not a night to sit calmly in the high chair and instead bounces around in Dad’s lap. Dad crams food into his mouth at a competitive rate. Sarah plays with Evan and holds him to give Dad a chance to chow.
6:50. Dad and Evan roll out for the 15 minute drive to retrieve Tommy at 7:00 leaving Mom, Sarah and Amy to eat the most peaceful meal they have had in ages. At this point my family is scattered in four disparate locations across two counties. 7:05 we approach a very dark barn and a sense of foreboding swells in my chest. I arrive to what appears to be a class running late and just preparing to enter the arena and my mind reels to replan for the 30-45 minute delay but a confused teacher explains that they have just come in and are putting the horses and tack up. I am relieved neither late nor having to make major adjustments in the schedule. Tommy, Evan and Dad head toward IHOP with text messages flying back and forth between phones. The girls are debating walking a half a mile to Target. Tommy tries to sneak a to-go order of pancakes but his phone call is too late; the bill has already been paid and the schedule too tight. The girls remain in wait at IHOP. 7:25 We slow the van and they load ala Little Miss Sunshine. We arrive to pickup Noah with Evan and I bolting from the van as the pack meeting closes spending 10 minutes to discuss leadership matters for the upcoming meetings. The scouts play with Noah’s toy brother until Dad is done. "Does he speak?" "Does he understand what I say?" "Will he do what I ask?"
As we approach the house, bathing orders are given and lights out times assigned. Confirmations of completed homework and signed notes. Requests for schedule amendments to the next day’s schedule are called.
Tommy remains in the van. He and Dad run to McDonald’s to get dinners for Noah and Tommy and apple pies for everyone. 8:35 Tommy and Noah are fed. Clothing is laid out for tomorrow. Mouths and bodies are cleaned and jammied. Books are read. Some computer time is had and the lights twinkle out at the appropriate time for each child. Tomorrow will have a similar script.