Well there goes “Father of the Year” again.
Tuesday of this week started the same as any other day in the 3AM Dad household… One or two kids up on and off most of the night, 6 or 7 shots of coffee before lunch for me… pretty standard.
I was meeting friends for (yet another) coffee at 1pm, before having to pick the kids up early from school, as Jaec had a Optometrist appointment at 2:30pm. Now I am usually always running late for everything… It’s not that I don’t want to be places on time… I just hate being early. This year has been different, I have given myself a few extra minutes (mainly, as I realised it takes longer to dress and do little girls hair, than it does boys).
I emailed Kaine and Jaec’s teacher the day before, asking them to send the boys to the Junior Office for 2pm, so I wouldn’t disturb the class. I told Izaac’s teacher to have him ready too so I could pick him up on the way through to the car (The childcare is adjacent to the school).
This is where things started to go wrong.
- The senior car park at school is getting resurfaced, so the junior car park is packed and we haven’t been getting out of the car to get the kids, the teachers have been bringing them to the gate.
- When I do get out of the car to get the kids, I usually carry Yve in my arms to pick the boys up, as Jaec’s class is up stairs. But as I was getting the kids from the office, I used the stroller.
- I usually park nose in, but as I was early and had my choice of car spot, I reversed into the easiest spot to make a quick get away.
I left coffee and drove to school, I parked and walked towards the office, I passed a car with one of the Mum’s, Kirsty inside, reading in the front seat, so I didn’t stop to say hi and continued to Office ahead of time - 1:55pm. I arrived and Jaec was waiting… bag open, jacket on the floor, book on the seat. “Jaec pack up buddy, I’ll sign you out and we have to go. Have you seen Kaine?”
I signed both the boys out and thought, “All good, it was still before 2pm, I’ll just walk over to his classroom and pick him up from there (it was on the way to Izaac’s room anyway).
2:00pm… Kaine’s classroom was empty. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, he had gone to assembly on the other side of the school… Kaine’s teacher was off sick and I didn’t think that my message may not have been passed onto the Substitute teacher to bring him to the Office.
Now with a little bit of traffic, it takes 15-20 minutes to get to the Optometrist, I wanted to be in the car at 2:10pm to make sure I’d be on time. With only half of my kids with me at 2:00pm, it wasn’t looking good.
“Jaec, I’ll take your bag (put the bag on the stroller), run over to assembly and tell Kaine’s Teachers Assistant that he needs to leave as you have an appointment. Tell her that Dad has signed him out at the office. Meet me at the gate to Izaac’s class.”
I started to sweat and made my way over to the Child Care. I went through the gate at 2:05pm. The door was closed and all the lights were out, I stuck my head in and said “Is Izaac ready?”
“Izaac, Dad is here, wake up buddy”… NOOOOOOOOOO, I was hoping he would be packed up ready to go. It was 2:15pm by the time I walked out with him and Yve. I put Izaac’s bag on the other arm of the stroller and made my way to meet the boys.
As we walked out, Jaec and Kaine were walking towards the gate, Kaine with his bag open, carrying a picture of a tiger, an orange pencil, a pair of scissors and a paddle pop stick.
“What are you doing buddy?”
“I want to finish my mask.”
He had been back to his classroom and picked up the activity he was supposed to do after assembly.
“OK mate, jump in the car, we are running late.”
I lifted them over the fence, parked Yve on the path behind the car, opened the door and shuffled them into the car. I grabbed the art and craft stuff and put it on the seat.
“Dad, I want to do it in the car” Kaine said in a whiny voice
“Just wait mate, we need to get in the car, we are running late”.
“But DAAAAAAD!” he responded as I went to get the bags.
I put Jaec’s and Kaine’s bag in the car, picked up the tiger and passed it to Kaine.
“Just put it on the seat next to you, and do it after you put on your belt”.
I jumped into the car, called out, “everyone strapped in?” and drove straight out of the car park.
Even though we were late and I was slightly stressed, I did the usual after school talk. “How was your day, Jaec/Kaine/Izaac?”, “Who did you play with, Kaine/Izaac/Jaec?”, “What did you learn about today, Izaac/Jaec/Kaine?”.
We were driving on the motorway… pretty much half way to the Optometrist and the GPS said we were only going to be 2 minutes late… not bad. Then I had an uneasy feeling. “Did I put the stroller in the boot after I put Yve in the car?”. In our car, you can see the boot from the rear vision mirror and I hang the handles over the back seat… I was tilting my head trying to see the handles. As I reversed in, I didn’t really need to check before backing out, like I would normally. I couldn’t see it, then I thought… DAMN… I hope I didn’t leave it in the spot between the cars.
I turned around to have another look.
My car is set up in 3 rows. Back row, Izaac, spare seat, Kaine. Second row, spare seat, Jaec, Yve… but when I turned back, I saw “Izaac, spare seat, Kaine and spare seat, Jaec…. EMPTY CAR SEAT!”
“JAEC, WHERE IS YVE!?”
@#%^ ME, I HAVE LEFT MY 1 YEAR OLD IN A CAR PARK!!!
I instantly felt sick, I was a kilometre from the next exit, I started freaking out!
“Jaec, didn’t you wonder where your sister was?” As I fumbled for my phone.
“Yeah, but then I forgot about it” he responded
“I wondered where she was, but just thought she was at home” Kaine called out, as I dialed the number to the director of the Child Care (we are friends, so I called Pauline’s mobile not the office number).
It rang out
It rang out again.
I floored the accelerator.
I called my friend Amanda who I had coffee with earlier that afternoon, as she needed to pick up her son at 2:30pm.
“Hello” Amanda answered.
“Where are you?” I said in a panic, taking the next exit.
“In the school car park, why?”
“I just fricking left Yve in the car park and drove off!”
“Don’t worry, I’m on it, I’ll call you back” and ran over to the child care car park.
I tried Pauline again, as Amanda was calling me back.
“It’s all good, Kirsty has her, she is fine.” Amanda panted down the phone, as I made her run across the car parks.
I hung up, slowed down and drove to the school.
I pulled up, Amanda, Kirsty and another mum Karen all greeted me with a little girl, grinning happily like I left her 20 minutes earlier. Pauline walked out of the centre and said “What’s wrong?”… “Nothing, just forgot my child” I responded.
Kirsty said she was sitting in her car, when she heard a feint “Dada”… she walked over to the footpath, where I left her. She was sitting there, with Izaac’s bag on the handle of the stroller, smiling and not fussed at all. Kirsty then called Karen and said “Do you have Ben’s number, I think he left Yve at school”. Before Karen could call me, Amanda had arrived in hysterics.
We got to the Optometrist 45 minutes late and I haven’t used the pram or stroller at drop off since, I don’t reverse into any car spots and I do a head count every time I get into the car.
So after ruining my FOTY nomination last year when I broke her leg, 2012 is screwed now too.
One positive did come out of it though. I know my van can get to 150km/h.