Sinkholes: A cautionary tale

I was once really good at time management. I wrote stuff down. There were Excel spreadsheets and charts. Nothing was overlooked, forgotten, or misplaced. I made Martha Stewart look like an amateur.

But now?

Not so much. I think things started going downhill when my sons began all-day school. I figured I just didn’t need to be as organized. After all, I would have endless amounts of time to get stuff done.

Yet after eyeing a large load of dirty laundry the other day, People Magazine called to me instead. It was just like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude crystal, except the magazine really wanted me to know what Princess Kate was having. Later, I went upstairs to locate a tax form, but got distracted by the bed. Naps are awesome, by the way. Next up, I intended to adjust every clock in the house to reflect the new Daylight Savings time. It was only after several hours that I realized I had adjusted them all the wrong way. I thought it was “Spring BACK, Fall AHEAD.” I need to pay better attention.

Annoyed, I turned on the television to confirm the correct time. That was when I became aware of the whole “sinkhole” epidemic. Have you heard about this? Sinkholes are apparently taking over the country. An entire block of Washington, D.C., was closed off because of a sinkhole. Some golfer in Illinois was just about eaten alive by yet another monster sinkhole. In my Cocoa Puffs-induced paranoia, I became convinced that the next sinkhole was after me. And it had TEETH.

Plagued by sinkhole fever, I headed out to collect my oldest son, Daniel, from his after-school chess program. This is normally my most time-sensitive portion of the day. There is a very tight window to grab Dan and turn around to retrieve my middle son, Jack, from his school. There is also a strong incentive for not being late. Nobody wants to be the mom with the sobbing kid in the principal’s office telling everyone how their mother forgot to pick them up because she was reading People Magazine and obsessing about sinkholes.

With time of the essence, I defied the normal time-space continuum of what is actually possible in nine and a half minutes. Have I mentioned my minivan is a six-cylinder? That bad-boy is kick ass.

Upon arriving at Dan’s school, I hurriedly ushered my oldest son out the door with a gaggle of other children trailing behind. There was a boy following me who did not look up from his gadget. He exited the building without reaching for the door handle or even acknowledging my presence. This was followed by several other kids who fully expected me to continue holding the door. With faces buried in books and electronics, these kids trusted I was a kind and patient mom who had all the time in the world to stand there and aid in their departure.

They had grossly misjudged me:

“LISTEN KIDS. I am not here so you can advance to Level 3 in whatever game you’re playing. You need to pay attention. Look UP. You are not the center of the universe. You need to hold the door open for yourselves and the kids behind you.”

Nobody looked up. So I tried a different approach. It was a technique my parents had once used, a practice so revered and respected, its roots precede recorded history:

The Cautionary Tale.

“Hey guys, do know what IS the center of the universe? SINKHOLES. And they will eat you ALIVE.”

I began embellishing the “true” story of poor Marty O’Brien who made the tragic mistake of not looking where he was going. Just as Marty headed out one morning to play in the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP for….er….CHESS, the boy disappeared under the venomous moving earth. It was speculated that Marty sank all the way to China where he was immediately imprisoned for being an international spy.

Naturally a parent walked by as I was detailing the unsavory facts of what happens to sinkhole spies in Communist prisons. Busted. And for the second time in a year, my name has been permanently removed from a CPS field trip volunteer list.

More naps for me, I guess.

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