On Tuesday, I took my children to the airport and put them on a plane to travel to their father’s house for their annual two-week summer visitation. Their flight was scheduled for the middle of the day. Lunch time, to be exact. But for C, who has cashed in his school schedule for the teen sleep-plan, breakfast is often the midday meal. When he got up that morning, he didn’t want to eat.
“I’m not going to buy you a meal at the airport,” I told him in my sternest no nonsense tone. “I don’t have money to pay airport prices. Find something to eat.”
“There’s nothing to eat,” he complained. “I’ve already looked. I’ll just eat when I get there,” he stated. As if that was an option.
“You tell me how hungry you are every time you go to your father’s. You say he doesn’t feed you. You say there’s never any food in the house. And now you say the first thing you’re going to do when you get there is eat lunch?” He stared at me with the blank expression that said he didn’t want to engage—with me or the world. “Eat something, please. We’re going to be late.”
He grabbed a box of cereal and a sandwich bag. “I’ll just take a bag of these,” he said, holding up the box. Fine, I thought. At least it’s better than nothing. He filled the bag, and we were on our way.
He ate a few bits of cereal on the way to the airport. When I stopped fast to avoid the car in front of me, the bag of cereal slid off C’s lap, and the cereal scattered across the floor on the passenger side. He didn’t even try to save it.
“Are you kidding?” I asked.
“What?” he replied, as if he had absolutely no control over the situation. He sat there, looking at me. I raised my eyebrows. “What?” he repeated.
“Seriously? Are you going to pick it up?”
He looked down at the cereal at his feet and sighed. He bent down and pushed it into a pile. “Throw it out the door when you get out,” I instructed. Because clearly, that wasn’t obvious. Some days, I feel like a walking, talking instruction manual.
It started to rain. Hard. I turned the windshield wipers on high and wished they’d go higher. They beat their rhythm as we drove. “Do you want me to drop you off and then park?” I asked over the roar of the rain, the drumming of the wipers.
“Sure,” came three voices in unison. I pulled up in front of the doors by the ticket counters. The kids got out, grabbed their bags from the trunk and stepped onto the sidewalk.
I drove around, pulled into short-term parking, and parked the car. Just as I was turning off the engine, I looked down at the floor of the passenger side. Cereal. It looked like the work of squirrels.
I am sure C would blame it on the rain.