Bad Mom does first day of school

Right off, I almost stepped in dog vomit.

I’d stumbled out of bed late and sludged down the hall to check on Teen 2 (sophomore at Wooster High). She’d already showered.

“Don’t step in it,” she warned me.

“Step in what?”

“The puke. It’s right by your foot.”

Sure enough, a creamy circle of gelatinous muck. Sort of orange.

It looked like I felt. You know that bad dream where you’re racing down the halls of high school, late for class, and it’s the day of the big test?

That’s how our first day of school went.

I helped Teen 2 with her hair and we drove to the bus stop. We waited. I read the paper, specifically RG-J reporter Martha Bellisle’s profiles of candidates for Supreme Court justice Seat E. As a non-partisan, I have only five races to follow for the primary. This year, I’m keeping up on candidate profiles.

I should have devoted as much time to the coming school year. I thought we were OK. We’d been doing registrations and orientations since mid-August. I’d called Reed High to make sure Teen 1 (senior at TMCC High) and Teen 3 (freshman at Rainshadow Community Charter School) were officially withdrawn.

Having three teens in three different high schools wasn’t my original plan. I’d been excited about the clan sharing rides to Reed, a couple of miles from our house.

Turns out my kids aren’t well-suited to an overcrowded school environment with exhausted teachers and armed cops roaming the halls.

Thankfully, in Washoe County, educational alternatives exist. Hurrah for choice.

After 20 minutes, we realized the bus schedule must have changed. We returned home.

“Gotta leave in a half-hour,” I told Teen 3. He hasn’t seen 7 a.m. all summer long. “Gotta give your sister a ride.”

“Glad to see you’re already awake,” I told Teen 1, who’s frequently up at 7—about the time she comes home to crash.

I downed a large mug of coffee and foraged for pens, an item I’d somehow forgotten in my grand folder-binder-pencils shopping expedition.

I dispensed lunch money and hunted for lost class schedules. At 7:25 a.m., I refueled the java and hit the road. We had 30 minutes to get to Wooster. We spent 20 minutes inching down Vista Boulevard.

The coffee kicked in. I cranked up an MP3 disc with three albums’ worth of Nirvana. Kurt Cobain and I delivered primal screams at lumbering SUVs. Being passed by men on motorcycles somehow led to my ranting about the roles of contemporary women. Work, family, home—no time to get ahead, crappy pay, driving only vehicles practical for transporting kids.

“Equality for women is an illusion, a lie!” I said.

“Oh well whatever nevermind,” Cobain droned.

The kids decreed me “over-caffeinated.”

“Mom,” Teen 3 said, launching into a Family Guy routine, “you’re a hamster in a maze. You turn left. Turn right. Left, right. Left. Now … crash through the wall. [Beat.] Yup, she’s tweaked.”

We pulled into the Wooster parking lot—full yet strangely quiet. Teen 2 assured me that attendance doesn’t count on the first day.

Post-8 a.m. traffic was light. Teen 3 was early to Rainshadow, a few blocks from downtown Reno. As he got out of the car, I realized he wasn’t wearing his new school clothes, no. He’d decided to start high school in a paper-thin T-shirt and torn skating shorts.

I headed home. Total commute time: 65 minutes.

My house felt peaceful for the first time in months. I eyed the dog vomit and decided to put off cleanup until after I’d finished this column.

The phone rang. It was a representative from the one school we don’t attend, the one that’s handily located minutes away.

“We wanted you to know that your son didn’t show up to his advisory class,” a woman said.