I opened the door, helped him set down a few items, and asked about his day. While he ate a snack, we chatted about eighth grade homework assignments and school happenings. We do this every day – somewhat quickly and automatically -- because the clock is ticking. Isaac arrives home a few minutes later than Noah. Once Isaac is home, it’s more difficult to converse.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine, but I think I forgot my black lunch bag and containers at school,” he managed to say, with an uneasy tone.
Noah has done a nice job this year of taking the bus home and being responsible for his belongings. It's amazing the difference a year makes. Several times last year he missed the bus or forgot something in his locker. After a few months, the constant after-school trips got on my nerves. I was sure if I had fallen asleep at the wheel, the van would have navigated itself to school on autopilot.
“Do you know for sure that your lunch is in your locker?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said confidently.
“Isaac will want to go somewhere in the van anyway, so it's fine to be out and about."
Noah and Henry nodded in agreement.
We parked in front of the junior high while Noah ran inside. We listened to Isaac’s favorite music, a CD from this summer's Vacation Bible School. We've been listening to it non-stop for four months. Isaac rolled down the windows, turned up the volume, and sang along. “We’re feeling good good good in a crazy way, God’s love changed me more than I can say,” the music blared. I might have been singing, too. I don’t remember. I’ve heard the songs so many times I can recite the lyrics without giving it a thought.
Suddenly Noah opened the door.
“It’s not there,” he said, as he put on his seat belt.
“Well, go look for it,” I snapped.
“I did,” Noah explained.
“You were only gone a few minutes,” I said. I took a deep breath. “Well, I’m glad we wasted our time driving over here." I immediately regretted saying it. My thoughts traveled back to last year when this was a regular occurrence.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Noah said. “I think I know where it is now. I’m pretty sure it’s in my backpack.”
"I hope so, Noah."
When we got home, Noah unzipped his backpack. I walked into the kitchen and opened the dishwasher.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Noah,” I yelled, "your lunch containers are in the dishwasher. I must have grabbed your lunch when you came home with your hands full. I put everything away for you, I guess, including your lunch bag. I wasn’t paying much attention. I must have been on autopilot mode.”
We stood in the kitchen for a minute. Noah doesn't have an argumentative bone in his body, but I knew he was tired after a long day at school. This situation hadn't helped.
"What a mess this has been, Noah," I said, as I shook my head and laughed.
“Ah, the power of short term memory loss,” he said. He shrugged his shoulders, grabbed a cookie, and walked downstairs.