I’m out of synch. Not in time. All sharps and flats. I’m hitting every wrong note. Nothing comes naturally. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to do the simplest things I knew how to do last week. The weekend has made me stupid and groggy. If I can’t get Monday right, the whole rest of the week could be screwed up, so there’s a lot of pressure to pull this day off. I’m trying to set a tone of responsibility and maturity, but I want to cancel Monday and take a mulligan. Get up on a better day. Like a Wednesday, which is closer to Friday. I feel like I could pull off this week if I could start on a Wednesday. I’m pretty sure I could.
When I used to ride a school bus back in my quaint little subdivision of Pine Valley in Salisbury, North Carolina, Monday was the day I might be running late to the little traffic circle. I would bolt out of the house like a madman with my backpack banging against my back as I ran. I’d make it to the bus stop and realize the bus had come and gone. All of the usual suspects had disappeared from the scene. Then I’d race back down Cherokee Lane to the point where the bus had to come back from picking up some other kids and stand at the corner there. I’d be full of doubt. Is today Sunday after all? A strange little known federal holiday? Did I graduate already and forget that I no longer attend high school?
Monday makes you question yourself like that. Maybe the whole bleak landscape of high school has faded from view. Maybe I’m doing something way more interesting now, and the Monday fog has clouded my reasoning to the point where I can’t remember what brilliant thing I’m actually doing. I’d have myself pretty much convinced I was already in college when the yellow bus appeared on the horizon, chugging slowly around a corner.
There was some laughter as I boarded. I might have been called a few unpleasant names. I’m pretty sure that was the case. I was dreaming of a better day, when all I got was this crummy Monday on this ridiculous bus headed to a high school I loathed. If I was lucky, I might be able to catch a few winks in school while watching a Driver’s Education film about irresponsible teenagers who got in horrible car accidents due to their negligent behavior. Who sniffs glue and drives?
Monday is just as merciless these days from the other end. I get my 15-year-old son Avery up for school now in Manhattan. He disappears into the bathroom to take a bath. Always a bath. He doesn’t opt for the quick shower despite our repeated recommendations. After about 15 minutes or so, I go into the bathroom and find him stone cold asleep in the bath tub. Sometimes there’s snoring. I worry he’ll drown like that some day. I have to yell at him to wake up. “And please use shampoo today,” I add for good measure.
Then I have to hunt around the house for gym clothes, his keys and his cell phone. They have been strategically placed around the house under other items. We have put little GPS devices on his wallet and backpack so that we can track them down. This helps. He’s lost four coats, one backpack, one set of house keys and his student metro card this year. That is not shocking. That number of lost items is well within the standard deviation for any given school year for Avery.
Maybe he dreams on Mondays that he graduated from high school some time ago. That he no longer plods wearily on Mondays to the subway to take the One Train uptown towards his school in Chelsea. That he is simply lost in the deep fog of Monday as I once was and still can be a little bit.
It’s quite possible he’d like to go back to sleep and be woken up at a more reasonable date like a Wednesday where he’d feel refreshed and rejuvenated and calmly find his collection of everyday objects. He’d rise on his own. Not fall asleep in the tub. He’d wish me well as he walked cheerily to school, feeling that the week was drawing to a close soon.
I’d watch him leave, my little Pooh bear all bright and sunny and carefree the way he used to be before the gloomy teenage years began.. He always reminded me of Pooh in those days. “Silly old bear,” I’d say to Robyn some mornings when he’d just walked out the door to catch his bus, and everything was relatively calm and right. He’d just tried to wear shorts on a day when the temperature was below freezing, but I’d caught that. He was on time and in long pants. All was good.
His Pooh days are behind him. He tends to be more of an Eeyore now, especially on Mondays. So many injustices to complain about. So many indignities to suffer. People actually expect him to stay awake in class and participate. What’s up with that? Hasn’t he already graduated and left this dreary school behind? No. It’s just another glum Monday full of teachers and their unreasonable expectations of full consciousness.
I bet he dreams of Wednesdays every Monday the way I once did.