So, the Sainted Child was in the Christmas parade. Of course, it was a disaster. I'm surprised I expected anything else.
To begin with, my family isn't enthusiastic about parades. When the children were small and parades were relatively rare events, coming around two or three times a year, they were into it. I cover several parades for work and thought it would be a clever way to double up on work and family time. After the first five or so, they are done with marching bands and fire trucks. To be honest, so am I; a woman can only eat so many Tootsie Pops.
The Sainted Child was marching with the middle school band, and she was the left pivot. I have no idea what this is, but I was impressed it had a name. She tried to explain it, but I only came away with the vague impression it wasn't as important as the right pivot. The important thing was she was going to be on the left, so I needed to position myself on the left side of the street.
This parade is at night. I get they're going for the "fantasy in lights" look, but it is colder after dark. I hate the cold, but probably not as much as those poor little girls in their dance costumes. Also, the idea of candy-mad small children darting out into a street choked with floats and convertibles after dark makes me twitchy. I know the route is well-lit, but people have driven floats into crowds in broad daylight. (The Long Suffering Husband says not only do I look at the glass as half-full, but dirty as well.)
Then there was the matter of missing dinner. When a parade is scheduled for dinner time, hell is being trapped in gridlock traffic with a ravenous 10-year-old in the backseat.
A drive that should have taken less than 10 minutes took more than an hour. I was going to be on time, too! I had my mom-act together. I had her uniform ready, I had her trumpet decorated with tiny LED lights and I wrapped the Little Professor in so many layers, he looked like Randy from "A Christmas Story."
All I needed to do was get her down to the union hall by 5:30 p.m. - on the dot, because the streets were supposed to close at 5:45 p.m.
They closed at 5 p.m., and the parade people decided they wanted all the children down there by 4:30 p.m. I was not mistaken in my instructions - I checked - and I'm still unsure how the miscommunication between the band and the parade people happened. I am sure that making small children stand around in 30-some degree weather for an hour and a half is probably a human rights violation. At least the parade-goers only had to wait an hour.
The streets were shut down so that the city could only be entered from the south end or Marland Heights, which I am sure was awesome if you lived in Marland Heights or Follansbee. Only, you know, I don't.
It would have been nice though, if the police officer I asked out-and-out which was the approved route into town didn't say he didn't know. You were totally helpful. Really. And then, immediately after telling me, "no one is going down this street, it ain't happening," he allowed another car down the street that "no one" was going down. He was not impressed her band grade was at stake - but have you seen how expensive college is? She needs all the scholarship help she can get. He was trying to ruin my baby's entire life. I mean, for the want of a nail, the kingdom was lost, right?
The fire department would have let me in. I'm just saying. (I officially love them best now, police department. You only have yourselves to blame. And that one guy, whoever he was.)
The LSH and I decided to try the southern approach into town - as did a couple hundred (maybe thousand) other cars. Gridlock. The minutes were ticking away. And the band's left pivot was in the backseat of my car, more than a mile away from where she was supposed to be.
The LSH was highly annoyed by this time. He has been married to me for over a decade and hasn't stroked out or had a heart attack, so you know this was serious. He tried navigating down a side street ... but - you guessed it! - closed streets and throngs of marchers. I looked at the dashboard clock - it was 5:55 p.m. The parade started at 6 p.m. We were doomed. Sainted Child would receive her first-ever "F."
I looked at the LSH. "You're going to have to walk from here. I'll park the car."
He and Sainted Child jumped out of the car and raced down the street. We weren't the only ones - I saw a dancer, a couple of cheerleaders and a beauty queen all hiking in, too.
That was the last I saw of them for the next hour. I managed to park the car and waited for the streets around me to empty of marchers, which literally took until 7 p.m. I amused myself by singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" repeatedly. I was feeling pretty grinchy by that time.
When I was finally able to make it back to the other end of town, where the parade ended, I saw the band had already finished.
And I didn't even get to see Sainted Child pivot.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at email@example.com)