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The Almost 9 Minutes Car Ride - Poem by Oscar Mireles

The almost daily car ride takes about nine minutes
from the Wheeler Road address
where my almost fifteen year old son
usually wipes his eyes when he gets in the front seat of the car.

About a half hour earlier, I gave him his wake up call
he answered his cell phone after only about 8 rings
said he would be ready and would wake up his sister too

Sometimes he will say good morning…well actually
He nevers says good morning, he just gets in the car
and grunts “hey”

and the other time when he forgets to grunt
he just sits down and avoids looking at me
and we both sit and listen to the car idle.

Every once in a while he gives me a warning notice
“Mom and Lorena got into to it last night
or this morning
or yesterday.
As if I am going to solve another problem today
Or maybe he is trying to protect me from getting into more trouble
Or maybe he wants me to just shut up
Before I make things worse.

Lorena always comes out about three to five minutes later
If she is in a hurry it is always five minutes
If she still needs to do her make up
We have to all switch seats, so she can use the front mirror
On a good day that is only a little hassle
which involves only one punch between siblings

Silence is different with my daughter
The radio is always something to put in between us
you can tell her mood if she sings along
With the songs, singing with emphasis and her sweet voice
But sometimes the louder she sings
Sometimes it can mean she is mad too…
So one has to listen carefully.

Once both children are safely in the car,
I did back up once without one of the kids fully inside
the back seat of the car and it was almost a painful accident,
but I am not supposed to bring that up

As we race by and wave at the crossing guard
I am reminded my children are no longer at middle school and
Jackie the crossing guard who could read my children’s moods
better then I could, was let go from her job
because she took too many vacations to visit her kids
actually only two vacations but I guess two too many

we turn on Sherman Avenue where we race up two hills
and try to avoid the intersections of Highway CV and Northport
where we had an accident.

But it does place the McDonalds restaurant
On our path and if I have enough money left over
I offer breakfast (usually a Bacon Egg and Cheese Bagel for her, and Two sausage breakfast burritos for him and both want medium hot chocolates with a straw) .

One time driving out of the restaurant Lorena saw a classmate
Waiting at the bus stop and said “Lets pick him up for school”
And as we tried to clear space in the back and I pulled up besides him
It was not her friend only someone that looked exactly like him
And she was pretty embarrassed and the look-alike didn’t seem too upset

Driving down Packers Avenue becomes a race
of avoiding the slow lanes
staying away from the stopping Metro buses
and not looking at people in cars talking on their cell phone
drinking coffee, reading the paper or putting on make-up
while pretending to be driving to work

As we get closer to the high school
I see some of their friends and classmates getting out of cars
They drove to school in.
Thinking that my kids love riding with their dad
or more dislike riding the bus to school
which I have counted each of my kids did less then five or six times

As we turned past the high school tennis courts
The metro bus lets out a mass of teens
Some with backpacks ready for school to start
Some without backpacks, ready to get into more trouble
Then they could possibly need.
I think sometimes they think people don’t notice they don’t have backpacks
I do…and I know not having one means something
But I haven’t quite figured out what.

I usually park on the right hand side of the road
With a yellow curb marking indicated not a parking spot
and it gives them a chance to get out of the car
and onto the cross walk and onto the school grounds

sometimes my kids do not walk together
on the way into the school grounds
they each get into their own minds
and keep walking

sometimes they do walk together
when they do
they are talking to each other
if I did not know better

and if I were too busy
to waste nine minutes of my morning
I would have have missed this moment
I realize they will be more then family for life
they will be friends too..

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