Bad Choices and Coke Bottles

You know those times when you are forced to choose between a number of bad options? No? Then save us both some heartache, and stop reading now.

Long story short, I had to take Me First to work with me today. He had a day off in lieu of having been gone on a school trip Saturday, and after school care staff don’t get there until…after school. The preschool had open house for prospective students and wanted to show off their English program, so taking a day off wasn’t feasible. I could leave him home alone, have him wait at the park next to school, or take him with me. None of these were stellar options, but we survived. Actually, I’m lucky that was an option today. At the other preschools I work at, it wouldn’t have been, leaving me with even less stellar options.

But maybe it will do Me First some good, to see me in some other capacity besides wiper-of-noses and general-shit-cleaner upper.

My dad used to take us to work sometimes.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting at a too-big-for-me college desk, those kind where the writing portion is only on the righthand side. The wood was old and pitted, covered in letters I couldn’t yet read. The desk wasn’t large enough to let me spread out my Cinderella picture book; it was constantly falling down causing me lots of aggravation while my dad was trying to substitute teach. My sister was there, happily kicking her chubby legs back and forth. Where was my brother? Maybe not born yet…

In later years, we would wait in church offices, doodling on old bulletins, pretending not to hear the voices behind Dad’s office door saying so-and-so was drinking again, you-know-who was in jail, this one was beating his wife, that one had no money to buy groceries. All these people who put on their best faces on Sunday morning came in to fall apart on Monday afternoon.

How many summer afternoons did we spend waiting in hospital lobbies while Dad went in to pray with the sick and dying? How many times did we wait in the car while he checked on a shut-in? And don’t get me started on funeral homes…(shudder)

Most times we’d be rewarded with a Coke and a candy bar on the way home. When I was very little it was drunk from the glass bottle right in front of the store, then returned the sweaty bottles then and there for a nickel or a dime.

Dad never made us feel unwanted or in the way. Maybe we were. Maybe he was happy for the company, to share another part of himself, like I was today.


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