I glanced nervously at the clock. It was a humid August afternoon, and I couldn't tell whether it was the heat or the traffic making me sweat.
It was 4:47 p.m.
Our family's first teacher home visit was at 5 p.m.
This was not good.
Of course, I had a completely different plan in my head. I had envisioned leaving work early, picking up my children, bathing them, letting the dogs out, making sure the house was clean and smelled lemony fresh.
Clearly, none of that was coming to fruition. I urgently dialed my husband to get his ETA.
No answer. Becoming panicky, I tried again. No answer.
Perspiration levels picked up. 4:52 p.m. Traffic had barely moved.
By 5:01, I was turning the corner onto our street as my phone began to ring. Without even looking at the screen, I picked it up.
“Please tell me you are home,” I said as my greeting.
“Um, hi, we had a meeting set up at 5 for the teacher home visit?” an uncertain voice responded. “I'm sitting in your driveway.”
I bit my lip. The teacher was there waiting. I was late. The kids were dirty from a busy day and in terrible moods. My husband was MIA. This was not the impression I had hoped to make on my son's teacher.
“So terribly sorry!” I finally exclaimed. “I will be there in 30 seconds!”
As we pulled into the driveway, our new teacher stepped out of her car with a patient smile.
“I am so sorry!” I repeated. “Traffic was terrible, and I can't get a hold of my husband…”
“It's OK,” she said gently. “No problem at all.”
I opened the door of our home, and before I could stop him, our 75-pound dog found a jumping post – which just happened to be our visitor.
I watched in horror as the teacher tried to keep her footing as Max greeted her with his full body weight. Just then, my phone rang.
“Hey, did you call?” my husband asked me.
“Yes-s-s-s,” I hissed. “Where are you? The teacher visit is happening!”
“Uh-oh,” he said quietly. “I totally forgot. I'm still 45 minutes away.”
I smiled at our teacher, now trying to pull my dog away from her as I cradled the phone on my shoulder. As I turned around, the phone dropped.
It was like a doggy tornado had blown through my house. Ripped paper, doggy messes and spilled water were all over the kitchen. Of all days, this was the one my pet had chosen to wreak havoc.
Now thoroughly humiliated, I turned to my son's teacher and threw up my hands.
“I promise, it's not always like this!”
She looked at me very seriously, and I felt panic arise. This visit was supposed to be our teacher's glimpse at my son's home life. I couldn't imagine what she was thinking.
Then, to my great surprise, she smiled and put her hand gently on my arm.
“I have kids, too,” she said with a smile. “This doesn't scare me one bit.”
She laughed, and the tension melted away. As the kids and dogs ran around us, we talked about the impending school year, and I became more comfortable with every word she uttered. I couldn't have been more grateful that my son would have such a gentle soul to spend his days with.
Ten months later, the school year is over. That school visit wasn't the last time our family missed the mark of perfection during the year, but that was OK. We had someone new to laugh with about life's hiccups the entire way.
Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.