Saturday, April 10, 2021

My Little Coo-Coo Bird.

My daughter Cameron has a few phobias. They are as follows:  

Being late.
Being late.
Being late.

Living with Cameron is like living with a living, breathing, walking, talking, tick-tocking coo-coo clock.


A morning before school might go something like this....

“Mom - It’s 7:20!”

“Mom - It’s 7:21!”

"MOTHER - It is 7:22!”   

The coo-coo bird then emerges from its home and starts flying frantically around the house flapping its wings. We’ve all become accustomed to the chirps of the little coo-coo bird. It’s hard to even hear her anymore - poor bird. Poor pretty, pretty bird.

But next, her little head explodes. She hyperventilates all the way to school, as I yell at people to get out of my way and the anxiety in the car grows to such a level that I think it could power all the school buses in town.

School starts at 8:00 am. If Cameron is not there by 7:40, her tiny body releases so much cortisol that it comes out her eyeballs in giant, gushing tear drops.

I don’t know what happened to this child to produce so much anxiety. I think she was just born with her clock-set fast. We’ve had timing issues from day one. Her due date was January 12th. She arrived on December 24th. Coo-cooing and flapping her way into the world TWENTY-ONE days early.

I don’t understand this kid. I am not like this kid. I cannot believe I birthed this kid. If an event starts at 8, I will roll in at 7:59. I consider this on-time. Cameron would consider this behavior as offensive as a fart in an elevator. And that’s how she sees me - as one giant fart in an elevator.

This year, Cameron has been a member of the middle school dance team. This is a good sport for her as everything is on a perfectly timed 8-count.

On Saturdays, the team competes in small towns about 2-3 hours driving distance away from our hometown of Jasper. This requires a very early departure of 5am. So…basically they leave in the middle of the night.

The night before her first out-of-town competition, it was decided that Justin, my husband, would be the one to take her to the bus in the morning. This was excellent news for me, I could sleep in and then drive later to watch her compete.

Her bag was packed. Alarms were set.

Strike that. Alarms were not set.  

Cameron believed that Justin would wake her up. Justin believed that Cameron would wake him up. And I….. could not believe any of it.

At 5am, my phone rang loudly beside me on the nightstand. I looked over to see the name of the dance coach glowing at me in the dark. I didn’t have to answer the phone to know what had happened - somehow, those two, had overslept.

I jumped out of bed, answered the phone and assured the coach that we would be there in less that 5 minutes.

Strike that too. The coach later informed me that it went something like this:

Ring! Ring!


Coach: Hello?? Abbie?? Are you guys…


Coach: So do you think you can be here…



Coach: Hello?

And then Cameron - poor poor Cameron. My little coo-coo bird looked like her wings had been clipped. I picked up her bag and we raced to the car, with me apologizing, comforting, and reassuring her all the while cussing at Justin.  When you can do this - both scream and comfort -  you have reached the top. This is a very advanced mother/wife maneuver.

But I still had one more maneuver to execute. To get out of our neighborhood and onto the highway, I needed to make a left out of the drive, another left and then a right. That was too many turns.

There was not a second to spare. If I cut through our backyard, I could hit the neighbor’s driveway and be emptied straight out onto the highway. There would be no lefts, no rights. It was a straight shot. Was there even a decision to be made?

I backed straight up and hit the gas to take us through the yard.

Why weren’t we moving?

Then it hit me. It hit me like the mud that was spinning up and hitting the windows. It had rained. A lot. I was in the yard spinning ruts into the ground. Cameron was raining tears inside the car.

I backed it up, gripped the steering wheel and yelled a perfect 8 count: 5,6,7,8 Let’s goooooo!
This time I made it. I gave a fist-pump into the air as I hit the highway and raced to the high-school.

We sped into the parking lot like we just had taken in a good old-fashioned southern Indiana muddin’ adventure.

Little dancer faces pressed against the bus glass windows as Cameron barreled out of the car.

“Bye! Cameron - good luck honey! See! We made it just fine!” I yelled after her as she ran out of the car glaring — not once glancing back.

She got on the bus. I watched it pull away. I exhaled.

She had made it. She was likely irreversibly psychologically damaged but she was on the bus.

Then it hit me. Not only had she not brushed her teeth, she also hadn’t gone to the bathroom and was facing a 2.5 hour bus ride. This was not an advanced mothering maneuver.

Later many attempts were made to understand why Justin had not set an alarm. I could only understand this: I had, indeed, married the dumbest man alive. But also the most forgiving, as not a word was ever spoken about the ruts in the yard.

Later that day, I watched Cameron dance with team. They danced with precision to an 8 count. They came in first place. She had been, and was, in perfect time.