One of the things that is tricky at our school is the car line. Since the first day the school FB community has been lit up with people complaining about the car line, people making suggestions about how to make the car line better and chipper posts about how hard everyone is working to make the car line as good as it can be CAR LINE CAR LINE CAR LINE. And it's been getting better and smoother as all those kindergartners, who until last week were spending their afternoons watching Daniel Tiger and sucking their thumbs with their loveys, get used to the paramilitary operation known as "GET IN THE CAR AND PUT ON YOUR SEATBELT GO GO GO!"
Which is why it was so mortifying when yesterday, just as the line started to move, I tried to turn on my car and move forward and... click click click...
Once I realized what was happening, I responded quickly, jumping out of my car and running around in circles, making incoherent gestures with my arms.
Then I tried to do the thing where you put it in neutral and push against the door. It wouldn't budge and started rolling backwards towards another car. So I put it back in park and approached the lady in the car behind mine, to ask if she would mind pushing on my bumper with her car, so that I could roll it forward into a parking place. And then when I got back into my car to put it in neutral, a crowd of four or five ladies materialized behind my car and pushed it just far enough that I could get it into the parking spot. Sideways. Sticking out a little.
The fifth grade teacher who manages the car line approached while I was on the phone leaving a message for Ryan (he must just love seeing my name pop up on his screen. MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY CAR IS DEAD IN PICKUP LINE AND I AM BEING PUBLICLY HUMILIATED) and tried to move it forward a little more but I spazzed out and couldn't remember how to get it in neutral and he seemed to notice that I was on the edge and let it go.
He suggested I abandon the car and and get Charley on foot (Charley was the only kid I was picking up, since he had a doctor's appointment and Wednesday is the day the kids are supposed to go to the afterschool program, you see how I had a nice little plan?), but while I was on my way there, I ran into my friend M, who was behind me in line. I hastily explained to her that my car was a no good POS doorstop bad word bad word bad word and she told me to "Get in! I've got room!"
I was so relieved! She even told me she'd drive us to Charley's appointment, which gave me time to figure out how to get the other kids and get to Ryan to borrow his car for the afternoon. We had a nice time waiting to get the kids, listening to Hamilton and chatting.
Except I did have to get out and run across the parking lot twice. Once to go get my car number out of my car so they would give me my kid and once to try and close the windows, which I was worried about because I figured the battery was dead and also a freaking tropical storm was looming nearby on radar.
And then we got to the front of the car line (CARLINE!). The fifth grade teacher saw us in the car together and cracked up. "That's gonna be a LOT OF KIDS" he said.
He was not that laughy and jokey when he realized that Charley was nowhere to be found. I blurted out through the open window "But I SENT THE EMAIL! They said they GOT IT." My friend's kids were jumping up and down yelling "Charley was here! He went back inside!"
So, because I am the best friend ever, my friend M had to pull over to the side with her kids and then wait while I walked inside to retrieve Charley, who had been sent to the afterschool program by a teacher who saw him and assumed he had just lost his way.
Finally, we were all in my friend's car. She took us to Charley's appointment, dropped off the other little girl she picks up for carpool, and came back to get us where she had to wait for us with her own kids for thirty minutes because our appointment was behind. Then she drove us all the way back past the school and up to Ryan, who was waiting with his car. Then I used Ryan's car to go get the other kids and we went to a pizza place to kill some time before we had to pick up Ryan.
After dinner it had stopped raining so we went back to the school to hang out on the playground until it was time to pick Ryan up. I stopped by my stupid dead car and tried to start it and YOU WILL NEVER GUESS.
Freaking car started.
So I had all the kids switch cars (left Ryan's car awkwardly parked sideways in the middle of the driveway because I wasn't willing to turn off my car only to find out it wouldn't start again and I only have one set of keys)--Mary was shrieking gleefully "Mama's car is NOT BROKEN!!"--and drove it to the shop around the corner, handed them the keys and my phone number, and walked the four kids across three terrifying parking lots back to the school playground, where we stayed until they called and said they'd replaced the battery and it was ready to go.
Normally when Ryan takes the car to the shop he spends a few minutes making it presentable first. I dropped off my van filled to the ceiling with workout clothes, bras, fast food cups, kids' backpacks, and an entire pizza in a box on the passenger seat. Also I was wearing this shirt I have that is constantly unbuttoning itself. I'm not going to say that's why he comped me the "anticorrosion package", but I mean.
We walked back across all the death parking lots completely covered in mud and sand from the playground, used their bathroom times five, then left to go pick Ryan up. Ryan was standing cheerfully on the sidewalk waiting for us like when Dorothy wakes up after the tornado and Auntie Em has no idea about all the wild adventures she's been on. The kids bickered all the way back to school to get the other car so Charley and I drove Ryan's car home, blasting the radio and yell-singing along with all of our Hamilton friends.