Last year when I learned the kids’ elementary school was moving, I was bummed.    Our quick and easy 10 minute commute doubled to 20, and the morning start time bumped from 8 o’clock to 7:45.  Ugh.

I dreaded the loss of time.  30 minutes less to sleep.  10 minutes less at home and instead on the road.  Bummed I tell you.

I’m not gonna lie…many mornings the new location feels just like that: Less.  Especially with the persistence of Snowmageddon, rush hour traffic, and driving in the dark because the sun has yet to rise.

But not today.  Today was more.  More that started with a mishap.

“Oh crap,” I heard Gabe say from the back seat as he let out a hiss of frustration.

“What?” I asked, knowing it wasn’t going to be good.

“Just forget it,” he said.  He exhaled another forceful breath of disgust.

“Gabriel.  Tell me what’s wrong!” I commanded.

“I forgot my iPad.  It’s my fault.  I know you won’t go back to get it because it’s not fair to make the girls late, so just go!” his regretful sentences all ran together.

Gabe forgetting his iPad was not good.  His whole academic day would suffer because of it.

Much to his surprise, I put on the brakes and made a u-turn in our sub.  I was proud of him for getting it.  For assuming responsibility.  For considering and valuing the time of his sisters.  For respecting the previous examples of ‘sink or swim’ I have enforced with him already this year.  Middle school is right around the corner – it’s time for him to step up.

“Oh thank you, Mommy!” he burst with relief.

“You’re welcome.  It won’t happen again.”  It was a promise.

“I know,” he said with great conviction.

“But thank you for admitting your mistake and thinking of someone other than yourself,” I praised him.

“You’re welcome,” he said.

I pulled into the garage.  He sprinted into the house and retrieved his iPad.  When he hopped back into the van, he said, “You know, Mommy?  I was just thinking.  There’s a lot of kids out there who could use a dose of Mickey Myers.  You’d whip ’em into shape real fast,” he declared with confidence.

I beamed.  It was the biggest compliment my son could pay me.  He recognized and appreciated my ongoing discipline, even while referencing me as Mickey Myers – a fun nickname bestowed upon me by the littlest Beaudoin girls who had yet to tackle the tongue-twisting alliteration of Mrs. Myers.

“You think I could handle ’em, huh?” I asked with a chuckle full of pride.

“Oh ya,” he said. “And I don’t care how tall they are.”

“Hey!” I pretended to be offended by the reference to my mini 5’1″ size.

“I’m just saying, Momma!” he giggled.  “You could handle ’em.”

The girls agreed.  We all laughed.  We continued to chat the whole way to school.

We talked about college – a conversation that comes up daily.  Which led to a conversation about being a grown up and having a job.

The girls were very impressed when they learned I worked as a dog groomer.  Gabe thought it was hysterical.  Even though I’ve told him this before, I suppose it’s the first time he’s been old enough to envision me wrestling with a mangled mutt.

“What?!  It was fun!  I made friends at the shop, we laughed a lot and I made money.  What’s wrong with that?” I defended my honorable trade.

“Nothin, Mommy, nothin!” Gabe smack talked.

“Hey…Mickey Myers can talk smack with the best of ’em, so watch out buddy!” I warned him.

He stopped laughing and looked at me like I was crazy.

“What?!” I probed sarcastically, recognizing the nerd alert look on his face in the rear-view mirror.

“Even if you could talk smack, Mommy…You gotta know the right time to do it.  And that was not it!”  My all-knowing 11 year-old made his best attempt to school me.  I couldn’t help but laugh.

From there it went to geography – a subject the kids know I’m horrible at, so they love to quiz me.  Luckily I was on fire this morning, and they were very impressed with my improvement.

We got out of the car laughing.  I followed them into school carrying four stuffed animals for a project of Gabe’s I know nothing about.  I have a feeling he asked me to carry them for a reason, because I felt pretty ridiculous as I walked down the hall.  I gave him a little shove.  He knew why and snickered back.

“Oh my gosh, Mommy!” the girls giggled dramatically.  I gave them dirty looks.  They giggled more.

We kissed.  We hugged.  We said our goodbyes.  I wished them all to have great days.

I got back in the van happy.

Today’s commute was more.  More time to talk.  More time to get to know each other.  More time too tease.  More time to laugh.  More time to share.

I was thankful.