At 2:30 Jon sat in the parking lot of Steph’s school trying to sort out the schedule that Dorothea had thrown at him earlier in the day. He scribbled what he could make sense of and was starting to wonder if he had bitten off more then he could chew. From what he rewrote it looked like he would have to be in two places at once at least twice, not that he knew exactly where or what he would be doing. He ran his fingers through his hair as he lit a cigarette looking at the list he made for himself.
2:45 Pick Steph up from School
3:05 Pick Jesse up from school
3:10 Pick Meo and Jake up from school (Meo classroom)
4:00 Steph track (School)
4:15 Jesse Football (school)
4:20 Jake to Pete’s
4:30 Meo Barnes, Recheck left
5:00 Meo Eastside Park
5:20 Jake from Pete’s
5:30 Steph from track
5:30 Meo finished
6:00 Jesse from football
6:30 Jesse to Owen’s
Hell I don’t know what half of this is, let alone where it is. Maybe Steph can help, she’s gotta know more then I do, he thought as he saw kids starting to pour out of the building. He gave a small wave to Steph when he caught her eye and she made her way over to his car.
“Hey, Dad, I thought mom was picking me up because its Wednesday. Are you ok? You look a little tense, or stressed or something,” she said sliding into the passenger seat.
“It’s been a hell of a day,” he said turning right out of the parking lot towards the boys’ school.
“It must’ve been, since this isn’t the way home,” she said.
“I know. I’m picking up the boys,” he answered.
“I went to see your mom today,” he said biting his tongue.
“Oh, they’re not moving in to are they,” she asked as her face fell.
“Just a couple of days, if that. I just need some tome with them, without your mom making it hard for me,” he said.
“Oh, ok,” she said simply.
“Can you do me a favor and help me translate what all this means,” he asked handing her the piece of paper as he pulled into a parking spot in front of the building.
“Sure, lemme see,” she said reading over the piece of paper. “What don’t you know?”
“That’s Jake’s drum teacher. He’s right off of Broad Street on one of the side streets. Waverly, I think it is. It’s the one with the jewelry store on the corner. Jake should know which one, he definitely knows the building,” she answered as she made notes in the margin for him.
“And do you have any idea what ‘Barnes recheck left’ means?”
“Romeo had an ear infection last week in his left ear that he needs to get rechecked with Dr. Barnes,” she answered.
“Oh, what happened to Dr. Sweeney,” he asked.
“She’s on vacation this week and last. Dr. Barnes is in the same office, you remember where it is right?”
“Yeah, that I remember. Any idea what Meo has at Eastside park?”
“Flag football. He needs his uniform from mom’s,” she answered making more notes.
“Oh, perfect. Eastside is the one by the grammar school right?”
“Yup that’s the one. I can find a ride home with someone if you want since me and him are done at the same time,” she offered.
“Are you sure Steph?”
“Absolutely, you’re gonna have your hands full as it is. Anything else you need decoded?”
“Nope I think I know the rest. Wait, who’s Owen again? That’s just one of Jesse’s friends right,” he asked.
“Yeah, I think they have a project or something to do. He lives right down the street from you, Jesse knows how to get there,” she said handing the paper back to him.
“One more question. What time do the little ones go to bed,” he asked reading all of her notes.
“Jesse goes to bed at 9:30, Jake is 8:30 and Romeo is 8:00 during the week. Oh look there’s Jesse,” she said pointing to her brother in front of the building.
“Can you see if you can get his attention he’ll die if I beep the horn or wave at him,” Jon asked. Jesse said goodbye to his friends and kept his head down as he got in the back seat of the car. “Hey Jesse, how was school,” Jon asked turning to look at him.
“Fine,” Jesse responded taking his phone out of his pocket.
“You have football at 4:15 today,” Jon said.
“I know. Where’s mom,” Jesse asked not looking up at Jon.
“Mom’s home, but I’m taking you guys for a little while,” Jon said checking the clock.
“Is there a problem Jesse,” Jon asked.
“Whatever. You have to go get Jake and Romeo, they’ll be out any minute,” Jesse said.
“We’ll finish this later Jess. Steph, I’m leaving the keys with you,” Jon said getting out of the car making his way towards the building.
Jon waited with the other parents and felt reassured when he recognized some of the parents from Jake’s fieldtrip talking in a group near him. When the bell rang and a sea of kids flooded through the doors Jon spotted Jake easily in his Area Bowl Champions shirt. Jon waved to him and Jake nearly took him out at the knees when he ran over giving him a hug.
“Hey, buddy, nice shirt,” Jon said smiling.
“Thanks! Mommy didn’t want to let me wear it but it was ‘wear your favorite tee shirt to school’ day in class so I HAD too,” he said excitedly.
“That’s your favorite tee shirt, huh,” Jon asked.
“Well the one that all the players signed for me is my favorite but I don’t wear that one,” Jake said smiling.
“Well, I know I like it. Come on lets go find Meo,” Jon said taking his hand.
“Ok, Daddy. Romeo gets out over there,” he said pulling him over to another set of doors surrounded by parents.
Jake excitedly told Jon every detail of his day as they waited in line behind other parents. When they got close enough Jon saw a woman in her late fifties eyeing him carefully as she talked to the mother in front of them.
“Jake, do you remember Romeo’s teacher’s name,” Jon asked kneeling next to him.
“Mrs. Martin. She’s standing right there,” he answered pointing.
“Thanks bud,” Jon said as the woman in front of him left with her daughter.
“Can I help you,” Mrs. Martin asked suspiciously.
“Hi, Mrs. Martin. I’m here to pick up my son,” Jon said with a smile.
“And that would be?”
“Romeo, Mrs. Martin. Just like everyday,” Jake answered standing next to Jon.
“Shh, Jake, let Daddy talk to Mrs. Martin. My son is Romeo Bongiovi,” Jon said taking off his sunglasses as he saw Romeo pick his head up inside the building when he heard his name and ran outside.
“Daddy, Daddy,” Romeo yelled dragging his bag behind him.
“One minute, Romeo,” Mrs. Martin said stopping him behind her. “Where are Dorothea and Connor,” she asked Jon.
Damn Dorothea really turned her magic. “My ex-wife is not picking them up today. I am their father, so they are coming home with me,” Jon said politely.
“Fine, but I need to see some ID. It’s school policy to see some sort of ID the first time a parent or caregiver picks a child up to ensure that they are taking the appropriate child and the parent has approved of them. It just usually doesn’t happen this late in the year,” she said with a smile.
“Yes, some sort of identification,” she said.
“You can ask those two girls giggling against the school,” he mumbled reaching for his wallet.
“I’m sorry Mr. Bongiovi, I didn’t catch that,” Mrs. Martin said.
“He said you can ask those seventh graders over there,” Jake said.
“That’s enough, Jake,” Jon said getting his driver’s license out.
“But that’s what you said,” he said pouting.
“No one here is above school rules. I’m sure that’s not the example you want to be setting for your children,” she answered.
“Don’t you need to cross this with a list that has been approved with the parents,” Jon asked holding his license.
“Normally I do but I’ve heard quite a lot about you from Dorothea. She really is a lovely woman,” she said taking his license and reading it over looking for a reason to keep him longer.
“There it is, John Bongiovi. Now can I take my sons,” Jon asked.
“Of course,” she said handing him back his license. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning Romeo. And Mr. Bongiovi it was nice to finally meet you.”
“Uh-hu. Ready to go Meo,” Jon asked.
“Yes! Daddy, Daddy guess what we did in school today,” Romeo said running from behind Mrs. Martin.
“What did you do,” Jon asked as he walked back to the car.
Romeo started to tell Jon all about his day and when they approached the car he was almost done. Jon saw Jesse trying to hide his face in the back seat, as he was texting on his phone and Steph was sitting in the front playing with the radio.
“Ok boys, let put your stuff in the trunk and then we can get in,” Jon said opening the trunk and then piling the bags inside. He made sure Jake was buckled in before he helped Romeo into his booster seat and buckled him in before he got back in the driver’s seat.
“That took you long enough,” Jesse said closing his phone.
“That’s enough out of you Jesse,” Jon said firmly. He saw Jesse roll his eyes in his rear view mirror as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“What are we doing today, Daddy,” Romeo asked.
“First we’re going to Mommy’s to get some stuff. We need school clothes for tomorrow, and you and Jesse need to get your football stuff,” Jon said.
“Does that mean we’re sleeping over tonight,” Jake asked with a smile.
“Yup it does. Sound good Jake,” Jon asked.
“Sounds better then good. I can’t wait to see my old room,” Jake said.
“Good. Then after we go to mom’s, Steph has track practice at her school and Jesse has football practice at school. Jake you’ve got drums, me and Romeo are gonna go somewhere special, the you’ve got football too Romeo, and Jesse you’ve got a project to work on later right,” Jon asked.
“Yup,” was his quick response.
“Then we’ll eat dinner, Amalia’s making your favorite. And then bed,” Jon said.
“Spiztetti and meatballs,” Jake and Romeo cried from the back seat.
“That is your favorite isn’t it,” Jon asked.
“Yeah but we never eat it any more,” Jake said.
“Yeah, Mommy won’t make it,” Romeo said pouting.
“Well tonight we eat spaghetti and meatballs,” Jon said turning down his ex-wife’s street. “Ok boys, Jesse get whatever you’re gonna need for tonight a maybe a few days. Enough clothes and whatever you want. And boys I’ll help you pack some stuff up,” Jon said.
“Fine, how many days,” Jesse asked.
“A little less attitude Jess. I don’t know how long just grab enough,” Jon said.
“Do you want help with Jake and Romeo,” Steph offered.
“That’s up to you if you want to come in or not,” Jon said.
“I can help, it’ll go by faster because I need to go home and get my track stuff before you drop me off,” she said.
“Sorry Steph, I thought you had it with you or I would’ve grabbed it before I left,” Jon said.
“It’s ok, I’ll only be a minute. I meant to grab it this morning but I forgot because we were running late. I’m gonna help you pack, ok Romeo,” she asked turning to the back seat.
“Cool Stephie, you gonna help me,” Romeo said clapping his hands.
“Ok guys, here we go. And be quick about it Jesse so we can get Steph’s stuff too,” Jon said parking the car in the driveway.
“Uh-hu,” Jesse said shuffling up to the front steps.
The rest of the kids followed behind and Jake took Jon’s hand and pulled him upstairs to his bedroom. Jon had most of Jake’s school clothes packed when he heard Dorothea huff at the door.
“Jon you can’t just come into my home without even knocking,” she said glaring at him.
“I came with the kids back to their house. Jesse let himself in; I just followed the kids in the house and up the stairs to pack. If you need to speak with me, let’s move out into the hall,” Jon said standing next to Jake’s dresser. Dorothea turned mumbling and walked down the hall to Romeo’s room.
Jake looked up at Jon. “Daddy, is Mommy mad at us because we’re going with you?”
“No, Buddy. I don’t think Mommy is very happy with me right now, but she’s not mad at you,” Jon said smiling.
“Is she mad at you because of us,” Jake asked.
“No Buddy, it’s because of Daddy. Don’t worry about that, why don’t you pack up anything else you want for the rest of the week,” Jon offered.
“Ok, Daddy,” he said giving Jon a quick hug before grabbing a couple other things and putting them in his bag.
A few minutes later Steph stood in the door with Romeo holding his bag. “We’re all ready to go Dad, do you need any help,” she asked.
“I think we’re all done, right Jake,” Jon asked.
“All done,” Jake said zipping his bag.
“Ok guys, why don’t you go wait in the car? I’m gonna go find Jesse,” Jon said handing Steph his car keys.
“Ok Dad,” Steph said taking them.
“Wait, don’t go out to the car, wait by the door to say goodbye to your mom. I’ll be down in a minute”
“Ok, Daddy,” Romeo said pulling Steph to the stairs.
“Go on Jake, I’ll be down in a minute,” Jon said as Jake turned and followed his brother and sister. Jon walked down the hall to Jesse’s room where he could hear him arguing with Dorothea.
“But Mom, I don’t really wanna go. It’s closer to school over here,” Jesse whined.
“You’ll have to take that up with your father. But for tonight, yes you have to go,” Dorothea answered.
Jon closed his eyes a took a deep breath. “Hey, Jesse, are you ready to go? The kids are downstairs waiting,” he said walking to the door.
“Fine,” Jesse said grabbing his bag from his bed and walking past Jon down the hall.
“I hope you’re happy Jon, because your kids certainly aren’t,” Dorothea said.
“I don’t have time to fight with you,” Jon said looking at his watch. “And I don’t want to either. The kids are waiting by the front door to say goodbye to you.”
“How generous of you,” she said rolling her eyes.
“Steph has to be at school in 15 minuets and we still have to stop at home, if you could make it quick,” he asked.
“I’m not rushing through saying goodbye to my kids as you run off with them indefinitely,” she said walking down the hall.
Jon bit his tongue not wanting to fight with her again and followed her down the stairs. Ten minutes later he was rushing the kids into the car. “I’m sorry Steph,” he said pulling out onto the road.
“It’s ok, I know it wasn’t your fault,” she said pulling out her phone. “I’m just telling Michelle to tell coach that I’m gonna be late.”
“Ok, Sweetie. Jesse you should get to practice on time,” Jon said looking in the rearview mirror.
“I better be, I can’t be late,” Jesse said not looking up from his phone.
“Jesse watch your attitude. We’re gonna be having a long talk later,” Jon said firmly.
Jon turned his attention back to the road as Romeo chattered on about his day. When Jon finally pulled up to his house, Steph ran in the house grabbing the bag that she left by the front door earlier. She came back to the car and Jon drove off back towards her school. When they pulled up to the track field Steph leaned over to give Jon a kiss on the cheek.
When she did she leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Call Melissa, she’s worried about you.”
“Thanks baby girl,” he said smiling at her. “I’ll see you at the house later.”
“Bye Dad,” she said getting out of the car.
As Jon pulled out on the main road towards the boys’ school he let out a sigh as the little boys chatted on. Shit, Melissa. How could I forget to call her back? How the hell am I gonna balance all of this at once? No one said this was gonna be easy, he thought pulling in front of the football fields.
“I’ll see you later Jesse,” Jon said as Jesse opened the door.
“Don’t be late. Mom never is,” he said shutting the door.
Jon clenched his fists around the steering wheel to keep from yelling at Jesse. Jon watched him walk to the fields before he pulled out onto the road to Jake’s music lesson. Over the next two hours Jon picked up and dropped kids off all over town.
When they finally all sat down to dinner Jon couldn’t help but smile as he watched his kids look at home again. In his home. Once they had finished Jon let the two little boys run off to the living room to watch tv and Steph went upstairs to work on her homework. Jon took Jesse into his office having a long overdue conversation about Jesse’s recent behavior. After two baths and two bedtime stories for the little boys, Jon said goodnight to his older two. He went up about an hour to make sure that they were asleep, and when he saw that they were he made his way back down to the living room and pulled out his cell phone. He looked at his recent calls and toyed with them before he finally settled on a number and hit send, hoping he chose the right one.