Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 7.45.27 PM“Hey, Mom, are you late?”

He knows when to get up. He picks the precise moment that will disturb me the most. Not that I don’t love to cuddle, but it’s deliberate, and amazingly precise.

How can a six-year old inflict such collateral damage on the morning schedule? He just knows.  Sometimes, he catches me working at 4AM. It’s my time of peace when the world can’t interrupt me. “Good morning!”  Other times, he waits till the last second, ambushing me when I’m stepping out the door. “Hey, Mom! “
“Yes, Declan? I’m leaving. Give me a kiss and a hug. “
“Hey, Mom. I’ve got a question.” It’s never “How are you?” or “What’s the weather?” It’s always something like, “Hey, Mom, why are the leading economic indicators two months old?”
“Not now, buddy. I’m getting ready for work.”
“Can you be absent?” A valid question.
“No, “I say, “I cannot be absent. I’m going to work. You need to go to school. “
“I can be absent,” he says. “I don’t mind… “
“Nobody is going to be absent. I have to go. Give me a kiss and a hug.”
“Hey, Mom!” he says.
“Yes, Declan. Make it quick, I’m leaving.” I have my bag and lunch in hand and I’m heading toward the door. I should make it to work if the lights are green.
“Can I have something to eat? “
This is the part where I usually toss a piece of fruit at him on my way out. Think fast. Catch.
“How about a fried egg? “ Not on your life.
“No. I have to leave right now. Have an apple.”
“Ummmmmmm….no… How about….” Very slowly, he puts his thinking finger to his chin like a modern-day Rodin. “Hmmmm…..” Intentional slowness?
“Decide. I’m leaving now. Have some bread. I just baked it. It’s warm and good. Your favorite.”
“Okay. You can toast and put jelly on it.” Under normal circumstances, I be proud to serve freshly baked bread toasted with homemade jelly to a smiling boy. But not three minutes after I needed to have left even if all the lights are green and the State Police at the base of the hill are otherwise engaged.
I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he’s really hungry not deliberately trying to make me late for work. But then I detect the slightest twinkle of a smile. A snide, crafty one at that. This assault of cute is well orchestrated and masterminded. It has been all along.
“Hey, Mom, are you late yet? Are you really, really late?” It is the look of a deliberate criminal. He is planned this. He has been planning this all along. In acting like a Dickensian six-year-old hoping for a scrap of bread, he has unraveled a sinister plot to make me late. He knows.
He makes me think working parents deserve a handicap just like bad golfers. All the single people in their 20s look like rock stars at work while we run late trying hard to raise the next generation to not suck. To add insult to injury, we must hide under tables at restaurants when they become mutants in public.
It’ll be tough to convince the 20-something single overachiever promotion getters to contribute to overpopulating the planet after they see me rush into work to greet the boss with a grape juice stain across the front of my shirt. The one the boy wiped on purpose giving me “one more kiss” on my way out the door. The one I didn’t notice until I was driving.
“Hey, Mom!”
“I love you.” And he smiles. The cute, innocent smile. And for the smallest particle of a second, I think he means it genuinely. Without an evil scheme.
[image: Matt Baumgartener–]