Ice Cream Therapy

Is it me, or is being left at school past closing time sort of a right of passage?

Allow me to explain.

When I was 10-years-old, I rode the bus home from school. Unless my dad was picking me up to spend the weekend at his house. On those Friday afternoons, I would get out of school and wait for him on the steps of our elementary school. Not having an iPod, Kindle, cell phone or electronic device of any kind, I simply waited.

One particular afternoon, I waited, and waited, and waited. Now there is such a thing my sisters and I refer to as "John McNamara time" so my dad being late wasn't completely out of the ordinary, but being an hour or two late was new.

Meanwhile, my dad was waiting for me to get off the bus at my mom's house. And waiting. And waiting. So there was a miscommunication at some point, but neither of us knew it then.

My 10-year-old brain had no idea what time it was when the janitor/last employee to leave the building emerged from the school and said he was headed home. This kind man also happened to be a neighbor of my mom's and said he would give me a ride home.

(Pause to reflect how different times are now then they were then. This story wouldn't exist if for a couple of cell phones. And the fact that I was able to pass the time without any electronics -- go 10-year-old me!)

I knew my mom and stepdad wouldn't be home when the janitor, whose name was Mr. Pike, and I arrived, but I thought maybe my brother would be. No such luck. Taking pity on me and not wanting to leave a 5th grader home alone, Mr. Pike invited me to his house for dinner. I left a note on the door letting whoever got home first to come get me at the Pikes' house and away we went.

Here's where I need to explain that I was a picky eater as a kid. Super picky. Plain cheese pizza kinda picky. And if there were two things in this world that I didn't like, they were meatloaf and creamed corn. (Just so you know, meatloaf is on my love list now, but creamed corn -- still a no go.) All that to say, guess what was for dinner at Mr. Pike's house that night? You guessed it, Nicole's least favorite foods.

My parents must have instilled enough manners in me that I choked that meal down with all my might. I then proceeded to introduce the Pikes, whose children were long grown and gone, to TGIF! We were having a great time when my brother finally showed up to pick me up.

When I got home, I listened to our answering machine and my dad's voicemails about what had happened. My mom and stepdad arrived soon after and I relayed the story to them. My mom was so impressed I ate creamed corn that she didn't even realize that someday I might need therapy for feeling abandoned.

Fast forward 22 years to Friday, Feb. 20. Rob and I planned to meet up at a local fish fry for dinner with the kids. Just as I hopped in my car to leave for work, my friend (who will remain nameless) called to catch up. Lost in our conversation, I missed my turn for the fish fry twice before I finally parked and we ended our conversation. I strolled into the fish fry and spotted Rob holding Gabby. Ah, time for some overpriced fish and a cold glass of brew, I thought.

"Wait, where's Faith?" I asked him.
He was looking behind me.
"Where's Faith?" he asked.


It was my fault. I was supposed to get her. The phone call. My poor driving skills. My overloaded brain from my first week at a new job. I completely forgot to pick her up.

We looked at the time. It was exactly 5:30 p.m., which is exactly what time preschool closes. Rob made a frantic call and said we were on our way. I told him not to throw me under the bus and use the word "miscommunication" several time once he got there. I took Gabby and we went to get food from Culver's fish fry.

I called my nameless friend on the way and told her she was obligated to pay for my daughter's therapy later in life. We laughed and hung up, and I immediately felt the mom guilt that comes with forgetting your kid. I was hoping Faith wouldn't remember this for year's to come when Rob sent me this (after he sent me a much-needed reminder to pick up my Redbox movie).

Rob said she had a short pity party about being the "last kid" but was smiling soon after!

Let's see here. A lifetime of therapy or a $3 concrete from Culver's? Done and done.

Gabby and I may have had a few bites on the way home. Why do you think they make those spoons so long…to reach the backseat! Truth be told, I've missed the turn for Gabby's school a few times and headed home on accident, only to turn around and make it to her daycare in plenty of time to pick her up. In essence, lil sis earned it too.

It was definitely a Friday to remember…or hopefully in Faith's case, forget.

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