We’d be late for her funeral.
Fifteen minutes before we left she would still be jumping up from breakfast to run into the living room “Just for a minute”. To flip on some music and do a dance.
“Elena,” I would say, “please come finish your breakfast, brush your hair and get your coat and boots on.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
“No, you need to come now.”
Zooom she’d run back to the table, take a bite and then zoom back to the living room.
“Elena. You need to come back and finish we need to go in fifteen minutes. Turn off the music.”
“O.K. daddy. In a minute.”
“No, I need you to come here now. Please turn off the music.”
“O keeeee fine.” She would flip off the radio. Somehow on her way back to the table she would see her flying turtle and sit on it and start riding it around the living room.
“No, you’re not. Park the turtle and come finish breakfast.”
“O.K.” she’d say. But she’d take another lap or two before parking the scooter. “Daddy, I want toast.”
“We don’t have time any more. Finish your cereal.”
“But I want toast too. I want two pieces of bagette.”
“We don’t have time. Finish up your cereal.”
“Mom, can I have bagette?”
Kim, would be in the kitchen and say, “sure honey.”
“Kim,” I’d call out, “I just told her no.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. I’ll just make her some and she can eat it in the car.”
“But I said no.”
“Oh, what’s the big deal. You need to wear a coat today – it’s going to be cold.”
Then there would be a cry from the dining room from Maggie who would have been eating quietly while reading.
“Mom, Elena spilled.”
“Well Maggie is reading. She’s not allowed to read at the table is she dad?”
“No,” I would say, “she’s not. But I don’t like you guys telling on each other. Here’s a paper towel, wipe up that mess.”
“Dad,” Elena would say with a sad look in her eyes, “I wasn’t screwing around. It was an accident.”
“O.K.” I’d answer. “Take your dishes into the kitchen we don’t have much time and brush your hair – both of you.”
” ’cause it looks like crap?” Maggie would ask.
“Crap,” Elena would answer. I didn’t care. Giving them a chance to mock me meant that they’d at least get up and do it.
“Come here, I’ll brush your hair,” I’d tell Elena.
“No, that’s ok, mommy can do it.”
“I’m right here. I’ll do it.”
“You pull my hair when you brush it. Owww. Owww. Owwww.”
“Elena, I haven’t started brushing yet.”
“Oh, sorry daddy.”
“There, you look beautiful. Girls we should have left already. Maggie, where are your glasses? Kim – we have to go. You can’t be late for a funeral.”
Kim would finish toasting Elena’s bagette and grab her coat. Maggie would be in her coat wearing her glasses. I would put on my coat and look around. “Where’s Elena?”
Maggie would give me a fake exasperated look and say “where do you think?”
Sure enough, if we were all quiet we could hear singing. Elena was in the bathroom. She always had to go to the bathroom when we needed to get somewhere in a hurry. And she loved to sing in the bathroom. She’d take the time to carefully wash her hands, singing all the louder so that her voice rose above the flushing toilet and running sink water.
She would come out of the bathroom. I’d all be standing there in my coat obviously waiting for her. She’d be shaking off her still wet hands. “Daddy, smell my hands. I washed them with soap see.”
“Very nice. But we’re late. Get your coat on.”
“OK daddy.” But she’d be wandering over towards the flying turtle – drawn to ride it around the room one more time.
“Elena, we don’t have time. Mom and Maggie are already out in the car.”
“Oh ok daddy.”
It’s going to be a real drag getting to places on time from now on.