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Column

Will I survive the summer?

“I don’t need much to be happy, but car keys seem to be optimal.”

The last day of school is always met with much anticipation by me. Will I survive the summer? Where will I put all the things they bring home? Will this be the year that I organize their supplies so that I can use them again next year? Can I find the first day of school picture and then pair it with a last day of school picture? Of course not, I forgot to take a first day of school picture.

I get a little anxious on the last day of school. It’s just a lot of time ahead with all four of them at home. Appetites the size of a small army, and choruses of “I’m bored.” However, each year I seem to pull it together a little more. Each year I think, “By the time Violet graduates high school, I’m going Mom Pro.”

Yet today set me back. Today set me back like four or five years. Today I sat in a strange car. A strange car with leather seats. On the one sunny and 85 degree day that we’ve had this year, and realized that I had possibly maybe killed the battery and was going to watch my daughter, who was in full dance makeup, melt before my eyes on this last day of school, first day of summer eve.

Before I get into this story, you all have to promise me to be cool about this. No calls home to my dad, okay? Don’t you be calling Chuck Maxwell to tell him that his daughter, who used to run his body shop, couldn’t figure out how to start a car. This is between us, ya dig?

It all started when Violet said she would dance with her Spotlight family for the local nursing care centers in the afternoon on the last day of school. I applauded her kind heart, and thought, “Good start to summer, Mom” and this is where I went wrong. I got cocky, folks.

The night before the event, my father-in-law called and asked if he could borrow my vehicle because he needed to haul something and couldn’t in his car. I said, “Sure, if you don’t mind me hauling a tiny dancer around in yours for the afternoon.” I think he laughed, but I was serious because when she’s in “full face,” there can be makeup causalities.

So the last day of school arrived, and I made plans to pick Violet up early so that I could get her hair and makeup done (someday when I’m emotionally ready, I’ll write about that process) in time for the show, and then we went to switch cars with Grandpa Dan. Vi did her usual visiting with him, which involved fist bumps and some sort of handshake, and then we were off.

I walked out to his car and thought to myself, “Boy, I hope this isn’t one of those cars that doesn’t have a key,” as I fumbled with the key fob ... looking for a button. Hoping that if I pushed a button on that fob a key would pop out.

No. Such. Luck.

Heck. I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of my father-in-law, and then possibly run the risk of my dad hearing that I couldn’t start a car. I looked at Violet, she looked at me. We mildly panicked together in a silent way. She knew. I could tell. “You okay, Mom?” she said. “We shall see,” I squeaked out.

We got into the car and I immediately felt like I was the shortest person on earth. I don’t know how he drives this thing with the seat so far back! I have long legs! People move my seats up in my car! I searched around and figured out how to move the seat up. Managed that with no big issue. Okay. I was doing fine. This was going to be okay. Violet gave me a thumbs up.

I looked at the button that I think started the car. I looked at Violet. “You gonna start it?” she asked with a laugh. “Maybe,” I giggled back.

I put my foot on the brake and it started. Hallelujah. I didn’t have to look like an idiot in front of my father-in-law. It took a solid minute to figure out how to put it in reverse, but I figured maybe if he was watching he would think I was checking my mirrors ... and that just looks thorough, you know? I mean, I did have his granddaughter in the car ...

Vi and I made it to her dance performance. It was glorious. We basically skipped out of the care center and back to the car afterwards, excited in our victory. Stupidly we jumped onto the hot leather seats, regretting our life choices. For a full minute, we mourned the loss of our skin. Then we tried to start the car. Nope. Nothing happening.

Oh my God. I killed the battery somehow. I must not have shut this thing off right. Now this felt horrible, but also more like how my life usually goes. Vi managed to roll down the window, which to me meant the battery wasn’t totally dead, and told everyone “We think we killed the battery, but we aren’t sure. This isn’t our car.”

Seriously anyone that would walk by. All the people she saw, and their distant cousins. “Hey! This isn’t our car!” Like maybe we had stolen it. Dance mom and daughter car thievery! If only!

I texted my husband, “Joe. I’ve killed your dad’s car.”

“What?”

“It won’t start. I’ve killed it.”

“Did you put your foot on the brake?”

“Oh, no. I didn’t. Okay. We didn’t kill it. Oh wow. Okay. Thank goodness. Alright. Phew. Bye!”

Meanwhile, Violet is telling her dance teacher that the car in fact is now running. I looked up and smiled and said, “This has been an adventure, I’ll make sure and write about it!”

To which she smiled and replied, “Please do.” If this is how summer is going to go for me, I’m simultaneously excited and horrified.

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