Cheaper by the Three

A helicopter would sure be useful.

Late.

With three children, we are often, well, late. We’re on the run, in a hurry, out the door and in the door again. Where are my keys? Then off in a dash – on foot, by taxi and in the car. Beep, beep! We’re here and there and then there and back again, and, oh, did you fetch the eldest? Shit. Out the door and racing to pick her up, and feeling like our life is straight out of “Cheaper by the Dozen” with Steve Martin playing a father of 12.

Yet we have only three.

It doesn’t help that our two eldest go to schools on opposite ends of the city. The far ends of the city, like between Anaheim and Topanga Canyon if you know Los Angeles.

So the other morning we had a school event at the Anaheim school and then two hours to get to Topanga Canyon in traffic jammed tighter than normal because the city had closed off main streets for celebrations of the country’s bicentennial.

Beep, beep!

We raced down clogged streets with the car running on empty and one hour and 23 minutes to get across town.

The kids started to murmur about thirst and hunger.

“We’re starving! We’re thirsty!”

I told them that we’d stop at the gas station.

“How long till we get there,” my eldest daughter asked.

“Ten minutes.”

“How long’s that?”

“By the time you count to 6,000…”

Yeah, I know. That’s wrong but it got them counting and my eldest didn’t figure out my error until 156.

“Hey…” she said.

“Well, keep going until you get to 600.”

My five-year-old son didn’t mind. He’d get to 19 and fall back to 14 and nine and then start up again. One, two, three… The littlest girl liked chanting 33, 34, over and over again.

I turned on the radio and prayed the gas would hold out. If not, we’d be late to my seven-year-old daughter’s performance at school, a dancing and singing performance.

The traffic worsened after the gas station.

The clock ticked.

Beep, beep!

And my wife started hemorrhaging in the passenger seat, wanting, no doubt, to transform the car into a flying machine, or, better yet, into a tank to blow the other cars to smithereens so we could then convert into a super-charged Hummer and fly through the traffic and not at this stop-and-go pace so, so far from Topanga Canyon.

“Take a deep breath,” I told her.

“DRIVE FASTER!” she yelled. “RAM THEM, DRIVE THE BASTARDS OFF THE ROAD. FASTER, FASTER. WE’VE GOT TO GET THERE!”

I started to count…

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