6:30 in the morning. Saturday. The alarm goes off.
I throw the blankets back, stumble off the couch. Shuffle down the hall and knock on Ashes' door.
"Time to wake up."
"Mmmmmm hmmmm." I wait until I'm pretty sure she's out of bed, then move back to the couch.
Twenty minutes later. I stumble out of bed again and move over to the table where the printed out SAT ticket is placed. Scan it over, quickly. Excited, I moved down the hall, knock on Ashes' door again.
"Hey! I just realized that it says we have to be there at 7:45, latest. That means we have fifteen more minutes to sleep!"
"Mmmmmm hmmmm." I move back to the couch. Sleep.
7:15, we're in the stang and just about to pull out of the parking lot on our way to Cumberland High School. This should be great, I think to myself, finally a perfect situation where nothing is going to go wrong. I printed out the Mapquest last night and it's only twenty minutes away, so we'll get there with ten minutes to spare. We have the pencils, the scientific calculator, Ash has been studying like crazy and should feel totally prepared and at ease and do just fine, and...
"What about my photo ID?" Ashes asks.
And with one sentence, my little bubble is popped. "Um, what?"
"My photo ID. I told you last night, I forgot it at mom's house. Remember? You called her up, she said she'd leave it in her car with the doors unlocked?"
No, no...don't panic, it'll be okay. Even if Josie's house is fifteen minutes away and...
Flash forward to 7:43. The photo ID has been picked up and I'm speeding down the highway in my stang, having spent the past half an hour watching the time ticking down, knowing that you can't change the laws of physics, no matter how much you would like to. 7:15 becomes 7:25 becomes 7:35 becomes...
"It's almost 7:45, says Ashes.
"I know." I try to keep a good attitude. "But we're almost at the exit."
"But we only have two minutes to go! And they're REALLY strict about these things."
"They'll let you in, don't worry. I'll walk in with you."
"It WON'T matter! They're really strict about these things. We might as well turn around and go back home now."
"No, no! Don't give up like that. We'll be fine." I put my foot on the accelerator just a little harder. "Just keep studying."
Ashes closes her eyes and places her study cards on the floor. "I've studied enough..."
"Look! We're almost at the exit." Just keeping thinking good thoughts keep thinking good thoughts...she's worked too hard, can't let this happen, it won't happen they wouldn't let it...
7:47, and we pull into the high school. I notice with relief that other kids are walking into the high school. And, not being thrown out. "You want me to go with you?" I ask.
"No, I'll go. I'll let you know if there's a problem." That in and of itself is a minor miracle, as Ashes ALWAYS wants me to go with her.
She opens the car door and heads to the entrance. I wait there as long as I can, not wishing to block anyone in. After a few minutes, I take a turn around the parking lot, then move back to the entrance. I do this six times, then park and walk over to the entrance, just to be on the safe side.
Ashes is nowhere to be seen. Just to be even safer, I send her a text, "You make it in?"
A few minutes go by, then: "Y"
As I drive off, I type into the Blackberry "Good luck! You'll do fine." I pause, then type: "I love you."
Maybe it's early hour or the lack of sleep, but as I type it, I start to feel a catch in my throat, and my eyes start to get misty. Silly sentimental man, Josie always tells me. And, of course, she's right, I am.
All I know is, one more hurdle has been crossed. And that feels good and scary (and good), all at the same time.
Growing up is so hard. So many stages and tests and things to be done as one makes the transition. It's hard on the kids, but especially...most especially, I think, it's hard on the parents.