I had a date at 1:30 on Tuesday for which I couldn't be late.
For two weeks, I worried I'd forget it.
This is pressing stuff for a gal who once left her boyfriend stewing in the dorm lounge for an hour and a half because she got so caught up in a bridge game she forgot about him and the Interfraternity Ball.
It's not that I think it's fashionable to arrive after everyone else. It's more like I'm a kindred spirit of Alice's rabbit. The more I rush, the later I get; the more I remind myself of an appointment, the more I forget it.
But this was a date with 5-year-old granddaughter, Amanda, for Grandparents Day at W.G. Rice Elementary School in South Middleton Township. Tardiness or an absence wasn't an option.
So I pinned notes on the refrigerator door, my computer screen at the office and wrote it down on every calendar in sight.
At 1 o'clock Tuesday I grabbed my purse.
"Before you leave… " the editorial page editor waylaid me.
"Before you go … " the managing editor said.
"Could you just…" someone from the business office said.
Still, I made it to the school parking lot by 1:28 - two minutes to spare. I flew down a hall so long they could use it to train sprinters, down a flight of stairs, around a corner and came to a halt where a number of people stood.
Grandparents, I recognized the breed. "Is this Mrs. Burns' room?" Heads shook in the affirmative.
"What are we supposed to do now?"
"I think the children are coming out to get us," one grandmom volunteered. Someone then told me, "Your granddaughter's looking for you."
"Grandma, grandma," Amanda excitedly called as she and her classmates filtered into the hall to claim us and seat us inside on chairs a foot off the ground. I folded my five-foot-eight frame with its 2 1/2-inch high heels into the kiddie seat only to have Amanda giggle, "Isn't this fun, Grams?"
Teacher Sarah Burns played a few notes on the piano and a hush fell over the room as the children recognized the signal for quiet. It worked like magic every time she did it. I wonder if it would work at home.
The kindergartners then lined up by the piano to sing a song welcoming us. And we all played "Simple Simon Says…"
Mrs. Burns tricked me at one point; I did when I shouldn't have.
She then held up colored shapes for her pupils to identify - squares, ovals, rectangles, triangles. A bingo-style game followed and focused on colors as well as shapes. On the wall in front of our table, I saw a list of each child's favorite color.
Next we played a game in which we were partners with our grandchildren in carrying out directions - moving right, left, behind and in front of each other. I wasn't caught short on this one; I can tell left from right because I have a mole on my left wrist.
That's when I noticed what a curious place I was in. The room is a blend of old and new. For example, three computers line one wall but the music for the game we played came to us via an old LP - something I haven't seen in use for at least a decade.
Although school has only been in session for a little over a month, the walls are covered by a colorful mishmash of learning projects. An observer could spend the day just perusing what's on those walls.
The children were playful and responsive, calling out "Mr. Clepper, Mr. Clepper, Mr. Clepper" when the principal came in to say hello. I got the feeling he's a frequent caller.
We had lemonade, milk and cookies. And Mrs. Burns read the story "Grandma and Me," about going to the beach.
Suddenly, our hour was up… and I was just getting into it. Mrs. Burns invited us to return - one at a time. If any do, she said, we'd probably be put to work.
I later called Principal Dean Clepper to say I was impressed and would probably take Mrs. Burns up on her open invitation.
I mentioned my surprise when Mrs. Burns played a record. He said she's not the only teacher who does since some songs can't be found on tapes or CDs and would be lost without those old LPs.
I told him that I appreciated the glimpse into how Amanda is being taught. Dealing with six grandchildren coming from three different households gives me a new perspective on what it takes to meld them into a constructive unit.
As for Amanda, she apparently is learning about having her very own world. When her mom asked about Grandparents Day, Amanda was vague.
And when I asked why, she whispered, "You know, Grams, it's a grams-grandkid thing."
But I'm not letting that go to my head. After all, when I asked her about Parent's Day, she said: "Ah, Grams, it's a parent-kid thing."