“Don’t close the door!” I yell at Teen Take-Out, as the door closes behind him and he blank stares at me with the classic “Huh?” look.

I fight spewing a few chosen words at him and run to the door, hoping by some chance I had pushed the unlock button … Of course, it was locked.

Did I mention I’m in my unattractive, yet incredibly comfortable, 10-year old flannel pajama pants topped off with a very thin, slightly revealing undershirt. No shoes, but I am (thankfully, by necessity) wearing proper undergarments.

The time is 7:38. I had run out the door to tell his father to go ahead and take the car-load of kids to school since Teen Take-Out was running a little late thanks to a “discussion” he & I were having about some school-work (more accurately lack of school work). I didn’t want the other kids to be late, so I would take the delinquent. Not only was a I mad about that, but now we were locked out.

I peek through the mail slot, “Jack??… Jack come to the door. It’s Mommy … buddy can you help me?…” Yes. The baby’s in the house whooping it up to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse … alone. He had no interest in me calling from outside.

“Why did you close the door?!!!” I bark at the culprit on the porch. He really hadn’t done anything wrong by closing the door. He was probably considering the countless times I’ve told them to close the door behind themselves. But, I was mad and didn’t care much about his intentions.

My thoughts turned to our extra key, then to my neighbors who had copies… I just couldn’t imagine going to their doors dressed like this. So, I hoped beyond all hopes that the key could be found in its hiding place. As you can imagine, we access it often. At least half the time, someone’s forgotten to put it back, but today we were in luck. I was in.

I grab the baby, the car keys, we pile into the car and I continue with the “discussion”. I’m met at this point with the stone wall. The one where he has now entered into the tolerate zone, obligatorily hearing my words, but definitely not listening.

Turning the corner, I see the blaring orange light staring at me and remember why I had asked Jon to drive the kids. I have no gas. Not only do I have no gas, I have no cash. My wallet has been hiding from me since Sunday. … The “discussion” heat turns up just a notch.

“I just want you to know, not only are you going to be late to school, we are going to RUN OUT OF GAS. And I’m IN MY PAJAMAS!!! all because you blah-de-blah, blah, blah blah.” I wasn’t even listening to myself. What difference did it make. We had reached the point of diminishing returns about 15 minutes ago.

I dramatically take the four dollars I had given him for lunch and pull over to a gas station in route to school. The station sits on the corner of N.W. Highway (really just a huge, busy street) and Preston (another super busy street). Lots of people stopping to grab gas, but they’re dressed. This morning Teen Take-Out would be pumping his first tank of gas.

Screech! I again make my point by dramatically pulling in and stopping at the pump. Oh,yeah… I’m mature. Shoving the bills at him, “Take this inside and tell them $4 on 7.”
“Huh?” he wide-eyes me.
“We have to pay. Take it in and tell them $4 on 7.”

He didn’t want to, but he did.

I roll down the window, “Could you go faster??!! HURRY!” He doesn’t turn to respond, but the rest of the pumping crowd looks. How nice that despite my efforts to hide from public eye I’ve just beaconed stares in all my lovely undershirt glory.

The kid pays and lumbers back to the car. I emphatically point to my side of the car and the pump. He does the “huh?” shrug … then realizes that HE will be pumping the gas.

From inside the car, I flip the switch to open the little gas tank door.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Take the cap off!”
“Huh?”, he shoulder-shrug, lip snarls.

Okay, the man next to us is trying desperately to ignore the uncomfortable interaction while nonchalantly spying at the same time. I’m sure he’ll have some fun water-cooler stories for his work-buds today.

After bumbling through taking the cap off, trying to hand it to me through the window (not!), then putting it on the ground, “Can I get in the car now?”
“NO! Take the handle and put it in the car!” I screech at him through my cracked window.

He takes the pump and gets it in the car.
“Now push the ‘Regular’ button!”

Eventually he pushes the button. Takes his own sweet time to realize you have to pull the handle to get the gas going. “Fills” the tank. Then puts it all back – the pump and the gas cap (at lease I hope he put the gas cap back on … I might be checking that soon). Needless to say we didn’t talk much on the way to school.

I’m sure he will never forget his introduction to pumping gas. Not exactly how I envisioned teaching him about the gas station. And I sit, realizing yet again that if I wasn’t such an enabler, he might have learned a few years ago how to pump gas. I guess I can do that with the other kids.

Poor guy, it’s not easy forging the way for the rest of the family.

So it goes. Thanks for walking the road with me.

Tune in tomorrow for a terrific guest blog entry by Ron Harris titled “Best Efforts”. It will inspire opting for “best” the first time rather than banking on “extra credit”. Hmmm, that might fit just perfectly with the “discussion” I had with the kid this morning.

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