Getting out the door with Z. is a lot like rolling out to the Local Training Area on deployment readiness exercise. If anything, it was easier answering those three a.m. phone calls because you had the entire platoon, company, or battalion on the same sheet of music, following the same plan, and moving towards the same objective.
Everyone knew when to get their assigned weapon from the arms room, when to do commo checks, and where to line up before rolling out the gate. The trucks were already loaded according to their load-plans, everyone had 72 hours worth of chow, and someone would radio you along the way to tell you the specifics of the mission. You were on auto-pilot the whole way.
But rolling out the front gate with Z. is a whole other ball game. First of all, the mission does not go according to a set plan. Even if you’re just driving down to Target, you have to take a full day’s basic load of diapers, bottles, and snacks. You have to factor in nap-time and meal-time overlap to the mission. You have to dress him in enough layers so that he can survive both the sub-freezing walk from the parking lot to the store as well as the sauna-esque temps inside nearly every public building these days. You have to calculate the amount of walking, number of stairs you’ll encounter, and times in and out of the car, and then determine whether to take the big stroller, the car-seat compatible stroller, or if you’ll just haul him around on your arm all day.
Those types of things I can handle. You factor in X, Y, and Z, plug it into your equation, and come up with an answer. But in any operation, the bad guys get a vote, and this time I don’t have a G2 to help me figure out what’s going to happen next. For instance, as soon as you get the car loaded and Z. all dressed, that’s when you notice that there’s a diaper that needs changing. You address that matter and think you’re heading out the door, and then the dogs let you know in no uncertain terms that they need another pit stop before you leave them for the day. Again, you’re ready to go, and you hear a commotion that can only be a cat stuck behind the desk, tearing out all of your cords and plugs and cables. Like Rosanne Rosannadanna said, it’s always something, always something that keeps you from hitting your cues on time.
So today was Z’s first day of day-care. We loaded up the truck the night before, which included a week’s supply of just about everything. We woke up an hour early to make sure we had enough time to get the boy dressed and fed and changed and maybe changed again. Took the dogs out twice before the kid had stirred, and made sure the second time that they had taken care of business and wouldn’t need a third trip out before we left. We left nothing to chance... except the part about checking the weather. When I took the dogs out the first time, it was starting to snow. When I took them out the second time, an hour later, we had 3-4 inches on the ground. Not a big deal, but just something that made up double our drive time calculations, which were already cut to the thinnest of margins.
But the kid’s first day was a smashing success. All of the other kids were instantly his best buddies (not sure what that says about his attachment issues, but will worry about that later). His teachers have taken a real shine to him, maybe because he is the cutest kid in the room. And he came home totally worn out, shredded from eight hours of non-stop activities.