The 3pm pick up

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Dedicated to all the mothers (and fathers) who we see at the school gates and to those we don’t

The 3pm pick up. That amazing phenomenon. An event in itself. Where each minute counts.

It feels like an orchestra – building up for the finish, pushing higher, packing in a million tunes. You can feel the adrenalin starting to rush through the blood, the excitement building!

And the minute the children are out of class, it’s like the climax – feeling flat for a few moments after, till it restarts, and starts to build up again for the second half of the day!

 

2:30pm Tuesday afternoon

What! No! No no no, no way! Not already! She rechecks her watch, the wall clock and her phone.

Yes – they all confirm that it’s 2.32pm and in 10 minutes she has to leave for the school. Her beautiful children wait for her – a daughter who has just started kindy and a seven-year-old son in year 2.

In the kitchen – rice is boiled, strained and ready, marinated chicken – prepared to be grilled at 5pm. Daal, hot and steaming, sits ready in the cooker.

She’s been out most of the morning – she had volunteer training for an English class she will take and the grocery shopping needed to be done.

It was straight back home to work on the article that needed to be submitted the previous evening and to make a start on dinner that needed to be prepped.

Quick dash to the bathroom. She grabs clothes and loads the machine, wipes the bathroom clean, and rearranges the brushes strewn all over the sink.

2:40pm

Still breathing – though rapidly. Dash to the bedroom. Lip-gloss? Forget it. Brush hair? Yes or she will look like something the cat dragged in. Ah, much better now, looking sane.

The phone starts to ring somewhere. Where is the damn thing? Definitely not in the holder. Let it go to answering. But what if it is the call from the insurance agency she has been waiting for? …better get it.

It’s on the kitchen counter. Just made it.

“Hello?”

“How are you today? We are calling from a charity organisation.”

Can’t believe it, talk about timing. “No, no thank you,” she blurts out, hating to be rude and short, but fuming inside.

 

2:50pm

Keys, phone, wallet, sunnies. Late again. Run to the car! Parking will be a nightmare. Aaaargh! She had promised herself today she would leave earlier. The car looks like the new home – there’s a jacket, a hat and sandals from yesterday, a packet of biscuits, sunscreen, art papers and more art papers everywhere. If her daughter does not turn out to be the next Anjolie Ela Menon she will scream out loud. Gulping air and calming her breath,

‘Thank God’ she thinks, ‘the husband is travelling and has not seen the car recently!’

2:56pm

Looking for parking in the lane outside school…found a spot!

 

3:00pm

The bell rings just as she walks inside the school to wait for her children.

Made it!

She slows down her breath, changes gears and centers herself. Mindfulness – stay in the moment – she reminds herself. Smiling, saying hello to the other mothers and waiting to greet her little ones.

They come out of their different classes and spot her.

Their faces light up! As she holds out her arms, they come running towards her.

“How was your day?” she asks amidst non-stop chatter and “Mummy listen to me!” She heads to the car – smiling, talking, saying goodbye to the other kids and mothers. She finds her mind wandering again with a million thoughts rushing in her brain all at once. I definitely need to finish the article and submit it today. I was supposed to return the music class form for Dia. Marcus has cricket at 5pm and I am taking Rohan as well today, must remember to pick him up. I hope Dia has made some new friends in class. Should I check her lunch box in the car or let it be? One of them has started a cough, may need visit to the doctor in the next couple of days.

“Yes, Marcus, you can go to both the birthday parties on Saturday,” she responds automatically to her son.

“Bye, Vera, looking forward to the play date with Dean tomorrow.”

Breathe. Drive. Home. Tea. And then re-start the next shift!