We were driving to a family event the other day with several of the kids in tow. Kids in this context refer to a seventeen, twenty and twenty-three year old. My dessert was carefully stowed in the back of our suburban. The back-seat inhabitants were safely plugged in to their ipods to avoid communication with each other or us.  We had just picked up Andrew from work, and saddled with his lunch bag he jumped in. I made the suggestion he put the bag in the back. With a flick of his wrist he let it fly. In that instant I had a flashback of an incident 15 years earlier.

Back then we lived in Illinois. I operated a small catering business from home to help make ends meet. My husband was frequently out of town, so deliveries included dragging along five young kids.  The flashback involved a birthday cake delivery on a snowy winter day. After securing the cake, and loading up the clan, we were off.  As was typical with my loving children, moments into any trip, an argument would break out.  It was always something critical to their existence, like who was smarter or the color of snow.  In an act of utter defiance, five-year-old Andrew chucked his shoe to the back where the cake was.  It was one of those slow-motion moments in life I watched unfold through the rear view mirror. I knew where the shoe was headed and there was nothing I could do to stop it. NOOOO-oooooooo, I screamed.

At the first opportunity I pulled over, trudged through the snow, and opened the door. A little brown shoe, size four, lay in the cake.  The van was so quiet, you could hear the snow fall as they awaited the aftershock.  I can’t exactly recall what transpired, but suffice it to say, I still have five children.

That little catering business grew out of my overzealous need to volunteer at the kid’s school. Organizations can see my type coming a mile away.  I imagine the word sucker is stamped on my forehead or something oblivious to me and obvious to them.  I am convinced; I wasn’t born with a NO gene. I seem to have some sick need to say yes to practically any request.  In fact, most of my sentences either begin or end with: yes, sure, when do you need it done or absolutely.

After many years of volunteering I launched my own catering business, which helped bring in a few extra bucks. Let me emphasize the word few here.  Catering at home with five young children under ten, is something only a psycho yes-person like myself attempts.

Once when catering an afternoon tea for a neighbor, I had run out of preparation time.  My assistant, four-year-old Becky, was standing on a chair beside me. She was tired of observing and wanted to help. “I want to hep, can I hep?” The last of the whipping cream was mixing when she grabbed a stick of butter and threw it into the bowl. AHHH-hhhhhh! I screamed.  After gently removing her off of the chair, I sent it airborne back to the dining room.  At that exact moment my neighbor’s husband was peeking in the door to render any last minute assistance. Explaining the wooden projectile to a father of 6 was easier than I thought.

Another memorable winter delivery involved sliding into a ditch only moments from the destination.  The recipients happened to be driving by and stopped long enough to pick up the First Communion cake, and drive off.  One must question what compelled me to continue?

Catering was a crazy time in our life and I am happy to report that the experience didn’t scar the kids too badly. Little Becky is a trained chef and Andrew is suffering only occasional flashbacks from his childhood.

As far as my flashbacks, I still get them from time to time and simply smile to myself or go find a dark corner to cry in.