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Mommy has to do math when she’s a paper boy

August 4, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Every Monday, for nearly two years now, I have delivered the Delano Herald Journal to area newsstands.

It’s nice to be out of the office and have the opportunity to meet people I may not otherwise have had a chance to meet.

I deliver to newsstands at Coborn’s, the Holiday station next to Coborn’s, Flippin’ Bills, Delano Quik Shop, CVS Pharmacy, Rockford Quik Shop, and the coin box in front of the Delano Post Office.

Being on a first name basis with many who work at these stores is fun, and I generally look forward to the paper route. It’s something different and it’s nice to leave behind the computer, the phone, and my desk.

The only thing I do not care for is being full of newspaper ink when I am finished carrying all the bundles of papers. I really hate to have dirty hands, so it is somewhat funny that part of my job involves being covered in ink.

In fact, when I was just out of high school, I worked at a convience store where I refused to ever touch newspaper. Of course, I was young, immature, and thought I had the right to refuse such a silly thing.

Recently, my 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter came along on the Monday morning route.

The first question they had for me was, “Hey, Mom, where’s your bag?” I wasn’t sure what they meant, at first, until my son said, “You know, like those bags that paper boys carry?” Of course, this made me laugh.

They asked if there was going to be dogs, and again I had no clue what they meant, but I assured them there were no dogs involved, since I knew they were both scared of big dogs.

It dawned on me that all this time, they had pictured mom doing what they see a paper boy doing on TV – carrying a bag full of papers and running from growling dogs.

When we went into each store, they wondered how everyone knew my name, and they kept reminding me that a paper boy bag would make this job easier and less messy.

They grunted, groaned, and rolled their eyes when I asked them to carry bundles of paper because they didn’t like the ink smudges on their hands. (Boy, the apples didn’t fall far from the tree at all.)

Fortunately, this mom keeps hand wipes in her van just for this reason.

As we went into each place of business, I’d tell the children how many papers I had taken there the week before.

“If I left 30 papers here last week, and there are two left, how many did I sell?” I’d ask them.

Both children were irritated that I was expecting them to do math so early in the morning during summer vacation.

Again, just like their mother, math is not their strongest subject. (Maybe the apple didn’t fall far from the tree at all; maybe it was just hand-picked and placed right beside the trunk?)

I do think they enjoyed having a little extra time with mom, even though it meant carrying bundles of newspapers, getting messy hands, and doing math.

Later that evening, I heard them talking to each other.

“I’m so glad that ink is off my hands,” said big brother, to which little sister replied, “Yeah, me too, but I still can’t believe Mom has to do math when she’s a paper boy!”