Thursday 29 Sep 2016

A Battery
Jennifer Flaten

I don’t like to waste gas, so when I am in the school pick up line, if I am more than five minutes early I turn the car off. I am always more than five minutes early-always. In fact, I tell the kids if I am late than I am most likely dead. No, I don’t really tell them that, but it’s true.

Yes, even in below zero weather I turn the car off and I leave it off until I can’t feel my feet and then I turn it back on. After that, I seethe about the amount of gas I am wasting until the children hop in and we drive away. 

Normally, since we only live a block, if that, away from my son’s school I force, their word not mine, I prefer strongly suggest, the girls to accompany the dog and I on our walk to pick up their brother after school.

The girls, who get out of school fifteen minutes before my son does, would greatly prefer if I just drove directly from their school to their brothers. The girls even put it to vote, but since I hold the majority vote, I won. We walk.

This past Tuesday was such an icky day and remembering that Mother’s Day was just a few short weeks away, and I had expensive items on my wish list, I decided to drive directly from the girls’ school to my son’s school; there’s the sound of thunderous applause from the girls. 

Every other parent in the world had the same idea and after a few complex maneuvers, I was able to wedge my car into a parking spot in front of school. I turned off the car. The girls proceeded to take me through their day minute by minute.

Ten minutes later, the bell rang, saving me from a blow-by-blow account of my eldest daughter’s lunchtime chess match. I spotted my son in the flood of kids exiting the school and turned the key to start the car.

Nothing happened. The first thing I did was assume I did something wrong. Look, it isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility that I, between listening to the girls nattering on about various middle school machinations and attempting to remove the dog who was blocking the steering wheel from my lap, while starting the car did something wrong.

I turned the key again and again and yet one more time. By now, the girls are in full worry mode. I leave them wildly speculating what could wrong with the car, no, it is not aliens, and hop out to intercept my son.

I tell him we are going to walk home because the car is dead. He asks if I am sure, as if this is an elaborate ruse to get him to walk home in the snow.

Well, I say, I’ve tried everything I know including begging the car to start and promising to buy it a day at the car spa, full wash and wax, if it would start and it didn’t.

We walk home in the snow, discussing what could be wrong with the car. My thought was it probably just wanted a rest from us. It turns out that it needed a new battery. My son expressed amazement that I didn’t carry a spare. Sheesh, kid my purse is big, but not that big.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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