A funny thing happened on the way to ambush Jackson’s teacher’s house with flowers and signs under the cover of darkness: We were almost spotted! Let me back up. Yesterday we did a car parade in front of Jackson’s teacher’s house. It was an idea from one parent in the class, facilitated by another parent, and communicated to the masses by me. It was a week-long negotiation of emails, time slots, text messages, and pure craziness–but it paid off big time! That’s another post. This one is about the night before the parade.
Jackson and I got this great idea to place 25 flamingos in his teacher’s yard the night before, with a sign that said, “The rest of the flock will be here tomorrow.” Funny, right? Well we had this idea on Monday, and when I tried to order 25 flamingos I couldn’t get anyone to promise me they would be here by Thursday. So we moved to Plan B: 25 spinning flower pinwheels from the Dollar Tree, with a sign that said, “Thanks for helping us grow!” Sweet. Not as funny, but definitely cute. And it did the trick! The next morning a surprised Mr. Budd filmed his front yard and shared it on Class Dojo with everyone. He was incredibly touched by the gesture, but what he didn’t see was the chaotic lead up to this picture-perfect moment.
First, there was Jerimiah and me in the Dollar Tree, a place I’m a little freaked out to go into when there isn’t a global pandemic happening. We had our masks on, our hand sani in our pockets, and we looked EVERYWHERE for those spinning flowers before we were about to give up. Walking out the front door I did one last turn to see and BOOM! they were right at the front door. Palm to face. So then we loaded up on 25 of them, some cardboard, balloons and streamer (for the car) and maybe some candy, who can be sure? What?! EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR THERE, Y’ALL!
We get home and have all sorts of ideas. Pinning names to the flowers, making the flowers spell something out, wild, wild, ideas. Near hour two I had a breakdown of sorts, as I do from time to time, and said, “Listen here, assholes! We are gonna go over in the cover of darkness, stick these in the yard, and run away frantically. We aren’t doing any fancy shit.” I was really just talking to myself at this point, because Jerimiah was grilling steaks on the patio and Jackson had already checked out. So that’s just what we did.
At 9:45 pm we left our house for his teacher’s. He lives approximately two minutes from us (hey, we are a neighborhood school, okay) and when we got there we did a slow roll by to scope things out. Now it was apparent by this point that I was the only one who had done any sort of “stalking” for nefarious purposes. Jerimiah didn’t understand why were doing a “stakeout” and Jackson was basically the loudest person I have ever heard in my entire life. To make matters worse, Jackson had dressed in camo and a cowboy hat. ??? The lights in the house were on, so we drove by a second time and this time stopped short of the Budd house and Jackson hopped out to gather some “intel.” Just as he jumped out I saw Mrs. Budd’s shadow walking through the house and I rolled my window down to signal to Jackson to get back into car. He saw me and yelled in our general direction, “WHAT, MOMMY? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!”
At that point I made Jerimiah back up the street. He was like, “Isn’t this more suspicious?” Ugh. Then we agreed we were just too early. So we did what anyone would do: We went to Dairy Queen. In the DQ line we debated Raspberry Blizzards, decided on code names (Eagle Eye, Momma Bird, and Falcon) and Jackson tried to incorporate number codes. He was all, “Code Three means imminent danger, okay? Okay, Momma Bird?!” and shit like that. Jerimiah decided we did in fact need to be organized, and I took the springy, red DQ spoon and stabbed him directly… just kidding. I said, “That’s what I’ve been saying,” while I cracked my knuckles loudly on the dashboard. We made a plan.
We’d park facing the front yard, the wrong way on the street. It is a quiet cul-de-sac, so no one would see us, or even care. We’d turn our lights off, obvi. Jackson would go first, put the first sign up (the one for Mr. Budd’s kids) and take just a couple of the spinning pinwheels, which at this point were hanging on by a thread, having been moved into a box, out of a box, pushed, shoved, hidden, gathered up, slammed down. Honestly we were expecting a lot from Dollar Store spinning pinwheels. Then Jerimiah and I split up the remaining pinwheels. I held mine in my hand, and he stuck his in cup holder because he was the driver. Okay. We had ice cream. We had a plan. It was go time! So we immediately drove back home, because Jackson ordered a fucking large and I was like, “Did you actually order a fucking large ice cream at 10 pm on a Wednesday?! You need to save half of that!” So he needed to get it into the freezer. Then, ahem, we were off again! By this time it was 10:15 and we thought certainly Mr. Budd would be sound asleep. No. Nope. Lights on. Same deal. But honestly it was now or never.
We rolled down the street, lights off, Jackson’s nervous shaking leg smashed into the back of my seat, spinning flower pinwheels poking my legs, and parked where we had discussed. Jackson got out of the car, slammed his door shut, Jerimiah winced, I screamed “JESUS!” and he started toward the yard. It was at this point that we realized he had left his sign and spinning pinwheels in the damn backseat. I rolled the window down and whisper-yelled, “What the hell man, full hands in, full hands out!” Then Jackson, from two yards away, in the Budd’s front lawn, yelled back, “WHAT? MOMMY WHAT DID YOU SAY?”
I started flailing my arms around in the car, and Jerimiah calm as a cucumber said, “It’s time,” and quietly opened his car door. I grabbed my shit and jumped out, as Jackson came running back YELLING, “THERE’S SOMEONE ON THE BACK PORCH!” In which I asked, “How the hell can you see the back porch? You’re freaking out, man!” All while Jerimiah was already putting spinning flowers into the ground. We joined him. Finally.
At this point I don’t know what happened. I had convinced myself that the street light coming from the top of the hill was a flashlight, and OMIGOD who was walking their dog at 10:30 at night?! And Jackson had placed his stuff, so he was just wondering around making loud noises. We gave it one last look, glanced up at the house, didn’t see anyone, and booked it to the car. I got there first and opened the passenger door to see, you guessed it, spinning flower pinwheels on the floorboard. I screamed, legitimately screamed, and grabbed them up and shoved them at Jerimiah who was trying to get into his seat. “What the…?” he started. “They are yours, they fell out of the cupholder,” I said. Then he sat and looked at me for a full second, in which I 100% thought we would sit there and argue over if they were in fact his from the cupholder, or if I had simply forgot a couple of mine. Instead, maybe because the urgency took hold, he ran away with the damn spinning pinwheels.
So there I sat, alone in the car, when it occurred to me that I had no idea where Jackson was. That’s when I heard him yelling, “Code 1! Code 1!” from the middle of the street, which if I remember correctly, means “All Clear!”
That’s it, that is how we pulled off the spinning flower pinwheel front yard at Jackson’s teacher’s house. And it was worth it.
Thanks, Mr. Budd, for being the kind of teacher who deserves 25 $1 spinning flower pinwheels in your front yard. We are glad we didn’t get caught. And even though it was hot mess, we’d do it all over again any day.