Rocketing to school

For parents, every school day morning presents a mad dash to the bell.

We scramble around the house like Keystone Kops in bathrobes, frenetically trying to get everyone fed, hosed off, dressed, brushed, backpacked and out the door on time.

Here's how it goes at our house:

7 a.m. Mom cheerfully awakens sleepy sons, aged 8 and 10. She departs for work.

7:02 a.m. Dad walks length of the house to kitchen, where he sets out bowls, spoons, napkins, cereal, milk.

7:06 a.m. Dad returns to bedroom, cheerfully reminds boys they should be in a fully locked and upright position.

7:08 a.m. Dad, back in kitchen, pours himself more coffee. Starts singing, in a loud "Oklahoma" basso profundo, "I'm gonna be the first one ready. Oh, yes I AM."

7:11 a.m. Dad returns to bedroom, finds boys have not risen to bait. Not so cheerfully reminds them that breakfast awaits.

7:15 a.m. Dad lets dog outside for fourth time since arising. Sings some more.

7: 20 a.m. Dad rushes into bedroom, tickles boys until they either must get up or wet their pants.

7:22 a.m. Boys run squealing to bathroom.

7:23 a.m. Dad sends boys to kitchen. Reminds them departure is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.

7:25 a.m. Dad steps on scale in his bathroom. Mutters curses. Shaves, showers, stares into mirror remembering lost youth, locates and puts on clean clothes, checks teeth again, takes deep breath and goes in search of sons.

8:06 a.m. Finds them still at table, flicking Froot Loops at each other.

8:07 a.m. Dad suffers minor cardiac arrhythmia. Urges boys to jump into their clothes.

8:08 a.m. Everyone sprints in different directions.

8:11 a.m. Dad pours more coffee, notices hand is shaking.

8:12 a.m. Dad races around, barking orders at boys, who blissfully ignore him.

8:15 a.m. Older son, half-dressed, announces he forgot to do homework the night before. Dad melts into steaming puddle on floor.

8:19 a.m. Having gotten older son seated in front of empty homework page, Dad hurries to other end of house, where he finds barefoot 8-year-old making motorboat noises with his mouth. Dad: "Why do you have a rocket ship in your hand instead of a sock?"

8:20 a.m. Dad, back at table, sees older son has made progress on homework, though it's all unreadable. Dad suggests corrective measures.

8:24 a.m. Dad returns to younger son's room, is informed son's shoes have been stolen.

8:25 a.m. Frantic shoe hunt commences.

8:26 a.m. Older son finishes homework, leaves it on dining room table. Runs off to play.

8:27 a.m. Frantic shoe hunt continues. Dad muttering, "I always know where MY shoes are. How can a person lose his SHOES?"

8:28 a.m. Dad shouts for older son to join hunt. Older son can't be located.

8:29 a.m. Shoes found under parents' bed. Younger son denies allegations he's been jumping on bed again.

8:30 a.m. Dad screams commands. Sons wriggle into sweatshirts. Run off to bathroom to redo mussed hair.

8:31 a.m. Dad grinds teeth.

8:32 a.m. All three sprint to automobile like a pit crew.

8:33 a.m. Dad discovers windshield is covered in frost. A frenzy of scraping ensues. Older son ambles back to house to get homework.

8:35 a.m. Dad proceeds to school, zooming through traffic like Al Unser.

8:45 a.m. Screeches to halt outside school.

8:46 a.m. Boys choose this moment to ask important questions about life. Dad answers calmly, craving cigarette.

8:49 a.m. Dad asks boys to eject from car, but they insist on hearing Spin Doctors song on the radio.

8:54 a.m. Dad pushes boys out of car, bids them farewell with a fond, "Stay out of trouble today!"

8:55 a.m. Bell rings.

9:07 a.m. Dad arrives homes, exhausted and jittery. Finds that friendly elves have not cleaned kitchen in his absence. Kitchen looks like the dining room on the Titanic.

9:08 a.m. Dad sighs wearily and begins cleaning.

9:18 a.m. Dad finishes scraping barnacles of jam off tabletop, pours more coffee, settles into comfy chair at his desk. Turns on computer.

9:25 a.m. After the usual two reboots, Dad is ready for workday to begin.

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