You know that saying, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry. Sometimes frustration just gets the best of me, and I’ve been feeling like a slow-building implosion about to happen. That’s not today, particularly, ... just an overall sense of being over the last 7 days.
I’ve been running kids like an ancillary running water to an amnesiac . Hurry up get in the car, do you have your lunch? Hurry up, brush your teeth. Do you have your go-bag? What do you mean you’re not wearing your bracelet? You’re going to miss the bus. Today is band? And you forgot your clarinet?
Last Thursday my cell phone rang at 3:35 with an unknown caller from Lancaster County, PA. (I recognized the area code, but not the number.) A split second decision whereby I considered letting it go to voicemail and then took a deep breath and answered it anyway. The voice on the other end addressed me by my first name (I am always initially annoyed by this) and then introduced himself as the person about to deliver news that would change my plans for the rest of the day, and the rest of football season.
No parent wants to get this call. Please don’t let this be a concussion, please don’t let this be a concussion… and then… “his symptoms are consistent with a broken collar bone.” And then a few more words like, “he’s doing okay,” “he’s stable,” “we’re icing it,” … “need to go to the emergency room…” I told him I’d be there as soon as I could.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Ava was already on the bus to come home and, on this particular day, it was running late. I sat in the car waiting, still trying to wipe the tears off my face because I’m very emotional and beyond irrational sometimes when it comes to my kids. By the time I got to Owen, nearly 45 minutes after the call, he was seated on the golf cart with the athletic director, the trainer and a good friend hovering nearby. I looked my son in the eyes and asked him the dumbest question I could come up with. How are you doing? He played it off rather well, until we drove away. We were no more than a mile from the school when his stoicism and tough-guy attitude melted like chocolate in July. My eyes welled up with tears as his ran hotly over his cheeks, the pain held while waiting for me overflowing in anger.
Needless to say, we went to the ER where I saw a dead-ringer for John Slattery – were he wearing a suit and holding a glass of vodka instead of a security uniform and a night stick. It was all I could do NOT to ask him for a picture. So we’re waiting on the results of the x-ray and I noticed something protruding through Owen’s shirt and, thinking it was a bone or something, reached down to touch it. I soon realized my mistake and no sooner had I said I’m sorry than he said, great, are you really trying to make me uncomfortable?
Anyway, an x-ray confirmed that he had, in fact, broken his collar bone. This, the day before he was to start on the kick-return team. He was so excited to finally move up to first string. I was excited. He’s given 110% of himself in this choice he made. He worked really hard to prove he could do it. But, unfortunately, he’s not going to get the chance this year. It happened in the tackling drills, though he didn’t realize he was hurt until he dropped to do push ups and “heard something snap.” The disappointment is palpable, but he’s handling it way better than I would have.
I insisted he shower after the ordeal, which meant I had to help him get all his practice clothes off including underwear, which could easily have been a traumatic experience all on its own but managed to handle it so he could maintain his dignity. Go mom! He has since been handling this detail himself, so I guess embarrassment overrides pain.
The first night was filled with inconceivable discomfort for him, not being accustomed to restricted movement and sleeping flat on his back, and he called for help around 11 or so and – because I’m as deaf as my 90-year-old grandmother – woke Ava up to come get me. He was in and out of sleep most of the night, and Ava’s blood sugars kept dropping low so it was one sleepless night.
Saturday was a double-shift day and the hits kept coming. Watching three people trying unsuccessfully to unroll the aisle runner for the bride – our own people, mind you. Two blasts from the past that day too – one guy said, Tara, right? And then told me his name (which I should have recognized) and I said, nice to meet you. Now’s about the time the floor can open up and swallow me, maybe… since he went on to remind me of his rehearsal dinner for his first wedding and exactly who he married that time. O.M.G. With his hair slicked back in a ponytail and weathered skin, I hardly recognized him. I told one of our servers that he and I are the same age and she snarkily said, why don’t you look like that? The second guy I was better at, and actually did recognize. As the wrong person. But I had my doubts, so I asked how the family was and hit the jackpot. And he never had to know.
Monday was a pure circus – having to get up earlier than usual and shower and dress presentably in order to walk my son into the high school. I had to wake Ava up to ride along, which wasn’t too difficult since she doesn’t like to miss a fart. So, we get there after the bell, sign him in, and I tell the teenager at the front desk that we need to arrange for someone to carry his backpack. He volunteered, but only for the first class and I later learned Owen carried his bag the rest of the day. (We fixed this yesterday.)
I drove Ava home to shower, dress, and eat breakfast… all so that she could miss the bus. I cleaned up the hairball/log of cat food on the kitchen floor and hollered at Ava to get moving, and found her in her bedroom – transformed into something unrecognizable by the floor covered with assorted clothes – and still not fully dressed. So, not only did she miss the bus – she missed her first bell too. I left the elementary school to return home for two hours, then got back in the car and drove over to the high school to deliver 800 mg of ibuprofen to Owen to ease his pain at lunchtime, since the nurse can’t do it without a doctor’s note. Then home again to call the doctor for that note, snarf down some lunch, and get back in the car to pick Ava up again for an orthodontist appointment at 1.
Todd’s been exercising his voice a lot this week, and not by singing old Survivor songs to me. Eighteen-year-olds need a lot of guidance! Like how to clean up after themselves, how not to run up the electric bill, how to shower efficiently (every day), how not to make long distance calls with our local-only landline, and how not to eat like a barbarian. This morning’s lesson was a veiled threat about missing the train if one cannot get oneself out of bed without mommy. Ouch. Must’ve been one quiet ride. Or chilly, if the windows needed to be down.
There’s a new puppy at the other farm – you know, that farm where one dog wasn’t welcome and sent packing without notice to another family member? Yes, a new puppy who’s as cute as a button and silky soft with big brown eyes and extremely naughty. Reports are that he had 6 accidents in the house Sunday, and there was a declaration that “maybe we shouldn’t have gotten him.” Wow. Probably the most accurate and honest statement yet. Well – after the one a couple of months ago where he said he wasn’t a total jerk. (True story.) Nevertheless, my daughter overlooked this glaring example of yet another not-well-thought-out decision and excused it as frustration, though not without chastising him for saying it in front of the puppy, “he can hear you, you know.” Ugh. Makes me sick. The whole thing. Smile and wave, Tara, just smile and wave. I can’t afford to have any real opinions on this anyway.
There’s more to come, I’m sure – it’s only Wednesday after all.