From The “Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” Files

The world is truly an amazing place with so many amazing scientific advancements to make our lives better —antibiotics, remote controls*, cute round robots to hoover up all your pet hair. Genetic testing makes it possible to find out if there are suspected conditions you could pass on to your kids. Now, if only this could be further honed to determine which undesirable genetic traits could be passed on to the kids. Parents ought to be able to know what the chances are the always-late gene could show up. That’s a baddie. Or, if the liar-liar-pants-on-fire trait is dominant because dishonestly is even worse. But the worst of the worst is the the lack-of-planning gene.

This is the one that vexes me most in my life. Thank goodness it appears to be recessive since only one out of my three children is burdened with it. That genetic nastiness, it goes without saying, did not come from me. I am a planner. In fact, I excel at it so much that i can effectively manage 4.25** people’s lives with a 99.87541 percent success rate. I did completely drop the ball last year for the PSAT No. 3 needed to take in the fall. But, I also feel like he deserves a chunk of blame for completely blotting out that he needed to take it and for apparently falling asleep every day for two months during the morning announcements so that he didn’t realize it was coming up and know when the deadline was.

Let me construct the genetic blueprint from whence this comes: When we were first married, Joe headed off on a work assignment after I’d already left the house. When I came home, the front and screen doors were wide open. I naturally assumed we’d been burglarized and acted completely appropriately and rationally by grabbing both dogs out of the yard and then driving to my parents’ house to call 911. I met the police at our house and they combed every inch of it and amazingly, no one had stolen our $150 futon or any of our fine Target cutlery or the 14-inch TV. Turns out, Joe, in a rush to make it to the airport, fled the scene in such a hurry that he didn’t lock up anything. That is really just a bonus story for you. The real point of this tale is that he left town and told me NOTHING.

I had no idea what flights he was on, where he was staying and only had a vague idea of when he was coming home. This pattern has repeated itself throughout our marriage except for an impressive two-year window when I dutifully received forwarded emails of flight and hotel information after I’d changed our outgoing answering machine message to say “Hi, you’ve reached Kristen and the former home of Joe, who once again left for a business trip without giving his wife any idea about his whereabouts. This likely will not be his place of residence when and if he returns, so maybe don’t bother to leave a message for him.”

After that brief but amazing run, he reverted to his old, uncommunicative behaviors. I chalked it up to that saying about how a leopard can’t change his spots and also he doesn’t have opposable thumbs so of course he cannot forward emails or text.

Joe has always operated this way and because he’s been the one perpetuating this nonsense, he’s been fine with it. FINE. But now he’s finally able to see what it’s like to be on the other side — to see what it’s like when HE counts as the planner and has to pick up the slack for someone who plans even less than he does. Because you see, No. 3 is 1,000 times worse. I know, right?! Who thought that was possible. And Joe is now like the blind, non-planning man who can suddenly see and I gotta admit, it’s pretty fun watching it all play out.

A few months back, the two were headed for a whirlwind trip to San Diego so No. 3 could take part in a basketball camp. The dates weren’t a surprise and they’d been on the calendar for weeks. The, ahem, quasi “plan” was to leave on Friday after school — No. 3 would pack his bag and ride in with a friend and his dad would grab him from campus and hit the interstate. Then they’d come back after the camp ended Saturday. Wham, bam, thank you, Mamadi. Diakite.***

Sadly, though, and this is apparent to any mother, this is NOT A FULL PLAN.

I asked No. 3 the day before if he and his dad had figured out a pickup strategy since that school parking lot, like any and every high school parking lot, is a life-draining hellhole filled with aggravation and nothing good comes from making a left turn into that blacktopped abyss. Then I asked Joe if he planned to spring No. 3 early from school to beat traffic and, of course, the parking lot mayhem.

“Nah, I’ll just get him after school.”

Huh. OK then. I decided not to push it and just see what happened.

THE MORNING of the day they were supposed to leave, I got a text asking what No. 3’s last class was because now my husband was rethinking his “plan.” Joe, Joe, Joe. Siiiiigh. I shook my head. I looked up the schedule and shared the info. I knew the next text I’d get and sure enough — “What’s his student ID number?”

Rookie sign-out mistake. You need that bit of info to call a high-school kid out early. The next text that arrived simply declared our son “the worst.” Turns out he didn’t have his bag with him so he couldn’t skip out of class and couldn’t leave early to get it and now they’d be delayed who knows how long by the parking lot situation. But wait! There’s more! I can top that story with an even MORE amazing tale of unpreparedness and complete and utter lack of planning

OK, you ready? No really, you should take a deep breath. And, I know there are some people out there (LACY) who think I grossly exaggerate my stories purely to amp up the comedy gold, but this is hand-to-bible truth. ALL of it. Now with the disclosures out of the way, it’s back to our regularly scheduled program…

It involves basketball, again. This time, a Phoenix tournament that started at 9 a.m. Saturday, which meant a 5:45 a.m. departure time. I got up to see them off because why wouldn’t I, being the dedicated wife and mother that I am but also because it’s impossible to sleep when they are up banging about, what with all the last-minute packing. After they hit the road, I went to the gym, like I do on Saturday mornings and as I peeked at the phone on my way home, I couldn’t believe what was sent at 8:01 a.m. from an entire city away…

I called and was not at all surprised that he asked me to send him a pic of his driver’s license.

I figured the next request would be to flood No. 3’s bank account with money so they could use his debit card while they were gone and so I asked if he wanted me to do that. The answer stunned.


NO?! DID HE SAY NO?! What the heck?!

“Why not?!”

So … at this point, I would think you might be able to guess the answer since I gave you all that incredible back story. But just in case, here comes the mic drop answer:

“Because he forgot his wallet, too.”

EPILOGUE: Joe just read this and says that I am leaving out VERY important details such as THE ENTIRE WEEKEND TURNED OUT JUST FINE WITHOUT WALLETS, THANKYOUVERYMUCH. Luckily, we have lovely basketball parents on the team who are also technologically savvy enough to have Venmo, and so Joe managed to pay for everything he needed to, including tip money for the drag queen who was emceeing Drag Queen Bingo at the restaurant where they had their very wholesome team dinner.

* Which are really only a helpful thing if your particular device requires ONE. If, as in my house, there are five remotes for the TV then it’s like going back to the dark ages because only one person knows how to use them and if he’s not around, then no one can even turn anything on and we’re all like the monkeys eyeballing the monolith in the opening scene of “2001 A Space Odyssey.” That is the only scene I can reference for you from the movie because I fell asleep promptly after that. What can I say? Space is boring and soothing.

** No. 1 is away at college and is quite good at handling her affairs, but I do step in to do dental and doctor appointments that have to be shoehorned around holiday visits. I think it’s fair for me to take some credit for that.

*** Give me props, please, because I worked REALLY hard to come up with an NBA player name that comes kinda sorta close to ma’am.

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