It’s 6:30 am and my daughter is screaming at me, the kind of scream that makes me look at the clock and jiggle my car keys and wonder How long is this going to take?
I don’t want to go to schoooooool, the words dragged out in a howl. She’s perched on the bathroom counter, eyes squinted against the light.
Why not, baby? You have fun at school.
I want to go to a different school.
Yes, she says. I want to go to high school.
Well, baby, you have to be bigger to go to high school.
Maybe if you work really hard you can get there earlier than you expect. But that’s still like fifteen years away.
No, Mama. I’m working harder right now.
I make quick calculations, the kind of mental math my own teachers would have been proud of. Ten minutes to school and ten minutes back. Add three extra minutes each way for the detour, plus four minutes for drop off. Can I be home by 7? Yes.
Okay, I say, because I suspect this is the only way we are getting out of the house today. We can go to high school.
And so I bundle her into the car and we drive, a mile and a half in the wrong direction. Pull into the long driveway of the local high school.
We’re here, I say.
So I drive down, looking for a turnaround point. When I slow down, she says, Silly car. Go faster.
We make it down by the lobby doors. Take a good look, I say, and turn the car around.
She’s quiet for thirty seconds.
Next time I want to go inside.