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This is joy…under pressure!

Vignette #1:

I arrive at school a bit before 9:00 p.m. I am having a bit of trouble finding my keys, but there they are, on the passenger seat. I gather an armload of muffins for tomorrow’s healthy breakfast selections, and I balance them with my free arm, as I slam the door shut with the other.

It is pitch black inside the school at this hour of the day, so I flick on switches, illuminating dark corridors. I head down a further passageway where another darkened hallway leads toward the kitchen. It is here that I will finally unload the four dozen fruity muffins, brimming with nutrients and goodness, that I now am carrying in my arms. If all goes well, I should be out of here and back home in an hour. Just in time to watch The Office.
I insert my key into the keyway of the lock, and slowly open the kitchen door. Another switch is flicked. The kitchen floods with light, and I turn to place my muffins on the counter.
That is when I discover them. The remainder. The ten dozen other breakfast items now on the counter, making up the balance of tomorrow’s breakfast selections for 200 hungry students. Food to feed their minds, give them energy to learn. I am almost drooling, just thinking of the possibilities.
It is at that very moment when I see them. There, on the counter, in all their neon glory, are pinwheel jelly rolls, a creation so sickly sweet I get cavities just thinking about them.
Kill me now.

Vignette #2:

Earlier in the day, a certain someone, who shall hitherto remain nameless, and a student responsible for buying the healthy breakfast items for the week, came to me and told me that the breakfast items had been bought. “I couldn’t find muffins,” she says, “so I just let Johnny pick out something else.”
“What did you buy? “ I ask mildly curious.
“”Oh, just go take a look,” says that certain nameless someone. I sense pride in a job done well; I feel relief.
As I was busy at the time, I got distracted. The day was crazy due to other complicating circumstances, including, but not limited to: losing and then finding hundreds of dollars worth of cash cards for the afore-mentioned breakfast program, pep squad through first break, discipline through second and that other little minor inconvenience of not having booked a sub to meet with our school’s literacy coach.

Vignette #3:

I am balancing two sloppy joes, a plate with blueberry cake drowning in brown sugar sauce and a glass of water in one hand. I have 2.5 minutes left in which to each my lunch. I can’t wait to eat this cake, the treat of the week brought in by a staff member. I am performing an aerobatic act worthy of a circus clown, when I meet up with our school’s literacy coach coming up the stairs of the school. I see her, and there is that vague feeling looming in the back of my mind that I may be coming up to the verge of a predicament, but those sloppy joes are calling my name. I hope to say a quick “hi”, then bounce down the stairs to inhale my plateful of food…. before the students come in…in 1.5 minutes.
“Oh, Sally!” I exclaim. “How nice to see you! What brings you here today?”
“I am here to see you,” she says, looking at my plateful of food and my sudden ashen face, already showing signs of nausea. Sweat beads are popping out everywhere. I begin to hyperventilate, as I do a 180 degree turn, and start leaping up the stairs in full vault, sloppy joes and all.

Vignette #4:

I am hyperventilating. I cannot see. The sloppy joes are getting sloppier by the minute. The brown sugar sauce is hardening into a brown, syrupy crust over a dark little square that use to resemble cake. I grab a phonebook. I still cannot see, I can hardly think. The only thought I seem to be able to process is this one: “Who can I call to come in for me, to cover for the afternoon, with no sub plan drawn up, that would be able to get here in the next ten minutes?”
The literacy coach, meanwhile, is still standing on the stairs. I forgot to even invite her to wait in the staff room. In the words of Homer Simpson, “DUH!”

Vignette #5:

I later laugh about all this, my obvious lack of organization and ineptitude with social graces, as I chat with the literacy coach. She is extremely gracious, and I fall over myself apologizing for every single faux pas I preformed from the time she entered the school until now. She and I end up talking about how we often think people are judging us for all the qualities we see as unworthy in ourselves, but in reality, we should assume the best of people and their assumptions about us. I breathe finally. I stop hyperventilating. I am almost convinced that this day will get better. I will survive. We end our meeting because I am late taking my oldest daughter to the rink, but no big deal. Life is rosy! I feel grand! It’s all good, and I can take anything from here on out! Nothing’s going to stop me now!
We arrive at the rink with no time to spare. Everyone piles out of the van, and I hurriedly open the trunk. I frantically search, but it is all too apparent. My daughter’s skates are not there.

Vignette #6:

I am silently regretting that I ever thought this day would get better. What kind of idiot am I? I start calling Brian’s cell phone, and he agrees to look for the skates and deliver them. I wait. He calls me, “Where are the skates? “ he asks me. “I don’t know, “I reply. “They are somewhere in the entryway. I hid them from the dog because she was trying to chew the laces last night. “
I wait. He rushes. I have time to get groceries as the time slowly passes. I tell my daughter to sit with her boots off, so that when her father arrives we might be able to shave off a few precious seconds from our lace tying. It is then that I realize that my daughter is wearing bobby socks (an absolute no-no to wear inside skates worn for two hours on the ice), she also has forgotten to bring a sweater and I have now officially lost my mind.

Vignette #7:

Hours later, we are in the car driving to Pickle Night, the infamous night for children at our church dedicated to all things pickle. I am silently composing a pickle theme song, completely spur of the moment, and I am doing so because I have no sanity left, and this seems like a completely reasonable thing to do en route to pickle night. The kids are fighting in the backseat, my husband is thinking about pickles, and I am singing to myself about pickles. At any other time, this whole scenario would lead any sane person to think our family is out to lunch, but this is Pickle Night. The kids are so excited, they can barely contain themselves.
We arrive at church. We sing about pickles, watch a pickle movie, play pickle games, eat pickle flavoured popcorn, search for pickles in a bucket of ice, get pickle-coloured balloons, and exit with pickle scented breath.
Everyone is pickled out, and so ready to go home. But, we first have to pick our son up at the rink, where he is playing the initial of four games played over the weekend for a local tournament. Hubby parks the van in the furthest corner of the parking lot and then leaves to pick our only son up after his hockey game, which has gone into a bit of over-time. The rest of us end up waiting in the van, smelling like pickles, for almost twenty minutes while he chats it up with pickle-free smelling people and son undresses in the change room. I have the window down and I have now moved the van so that it is directly in front of the rink cafeteria, where all the people, including my hubby, are now milling about. Cigarette smoke is mingling with the pickle smell, and the children are also noticing the new scent. They begin complaining about the various aromas in our van. I have a sudden urge to rev the engine and lay on the horn.

Vignette #8:

We are finally on our way to de-pickle the van with the minus 16 degree air filtering through our vehicle’s ventilation system. I emphasize that I am now seriously running behind, and I will only be slowing down to about 20 clicks, which should be plenty slow for everyone to fall out of the van, onto the snow, without suffering too grievous an injury. Slight exaggeration intended.

Vignette #9:

Which brings us back to this: the spiral, pink and white, sugar-injected Swiss jelly rolls sitting on the school’s kitchen counter.
I am inside the office, sitting in the secretary’s chair, not sure who to phone first. The shock of seeing those neon-coloured wonders sitting there on the counter has propelled me into action. The closest store closed exactly five minutes ago, which means we will be serving muffins and sugar coated jelly rolls for breakfast tomorrow. Our school’s nutrition team will be so impressed when they find out what I have on the menu for breakfast in the morning. Not to mention the countless parents, whose children will now use these jelly rolls as an excuse for eating candy for breakfast and who will be themselves super impressed with me and my discretion. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Vignette #10:

It is 10:00 p.m.. My brain is numb, but the crisis is over. A plan of action is in place, and there are people all over West Prince making muffins, even as I am slumped over in a chair, watching a sitcom. The show’s plot centers around two trendy parents and their dilemma over what daycare to choose for their one and only child. I think I may need some Demerol, and a good, swift kick in the head to knock me out of my misery. That, and maybe a Swiss roll and a glass of pepsi.


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