I survive each day only by making a plan. The morning shines brighter when I can get our day into a list of activities and corresponding times that flow as ordinarily yet orderly as a stream down a mountain.
3:00 put chicken in the oven, 4:00 leave to pick girls up from language, return home at 4:30, dinner ready by 5:00, eat and clean and out the door by 5:30 for ballet, 7:00 ballet pick-up, return home in time for a quick shower for Astrid before she is in bed at her scheduled bedtime of 7:30.
For me there is no ‘we’ll eat when we’ll eat’ or ‘I’ll pick you up when I get there’ or ‘she’ll get to bed when she gets to bed’ in my daily, orderly parenthood plan.
There is no room for surprises.
On Wednesdays we usually eat dinner at 5pm right after I pick the girls up from language. But Eloise had to play a solo violin piece at 5:15, which didn’t give us time to go out for a quick dinner and we wouldn’t get home until nearly 6pm, which would be too late for dinner..and when the hell would I have time to make it anyway. So I stopped by Subway on my way to pick them up and we had a picnic in a hallway at school. I had them sit on their coats and we spread out napkins for the food and I told them not to touch the floor too often as they ate their dinner. I also reminded them that I nursed them all for two and a half years each just for moments like this. Eloise acted like she was going to die right there and then.
It was their favorite meal of the week.
On Thursdays, the girls get off the bus at 3:30 and then I shuttle Eloise immediately to piano. I rush home to get dinner in the oven as Esther does her homework. Then I return to piano to fetch Eloise. She is home for 15 minutes..so she downs a frozen waffle as she does her homework and then I shuttle her to ballet. We typically eat dinner while Eloise is at ballet and then she eats dinner when she arrives home at 6:30.
But this Thursday was Esther’s birthday and I made her favorite - a strawberry shortcake. AND we had ‘doing good’ night a school which is an annual night of charitable activities that benefit the greater community in need. This all in between piano, homework, ballet and dinner.
We decided that we would have dinner super early at 4:30 so that Eloise could join us for that 15 minutes between piano and ballet so that we could all sing and celebrate Esther.
Instead my phone rang. It was Jed. “Um, yeah I think I might need an ambulance or something. But I need help. Can you come out to the alley?”
“But we are just about to have cake.” I said as I realized my plan was faulted now for two nights in a row.
“Yeah, well come out when you can.”
I saw the blood before I saw Jed. He was lying down in the bed of his truck holding onto his leg as blood flowed and squirted EVERYWHERE. My first instinct was to just walk away, because gross, but instead I stayed so we could debate on the best way to transport him to the emergency room..because the blood. My God the blood.
First we had to debate on how much an ambulance would cost. We are well versed in the ‘self-insured’ department on out of pocket expenses. Since we pay over $10,000 a year(and have since 2005) for premiums for HIGH deductible coverage, we need to discuss all possible medical procedures and expenses with great detail. Because this is the land of the free and home of the brave and one bad fall can put you into poverty, so as Jed bled-out we determined that an ambulance ride wasn’t in our budget this month.
In the meantime, the kids are in the house wondering about cake.
So we decided that it would be much cheaper to just ruin lots of bath towels wrapped around Jed’s leg while I drove him to the ER. During rush hour.
No one had cake.
But my favorite part of our Thursday was when we arrived at the ER and were the only people at the ER besides the three intake nurses just sitting there ready to ‘intake’ us and Jed is BLEEDING. My God, the blood…and we are both rushing in yelling “THE BLOOD, THE BLOOD, SO MUCH BLOOD” and “We need a wheelchair or HELP or somebody NOW!” – They all just stared at us and didn’t get up at all.
So Jed had to yell more about THE BLOOD and show them that now he had bled through his pants, socks, shoes, two towels, a plastic bag and how he was ruining their floor and he received an “Oh, you need some help?”
I left him there and went back to fetch Eloise from ballet, throw some kind of dinner at everyone and still make it over to ‘doing good’ at school.
We never did eat the cake and Esther did not blow out any candles on her birthday.
And we all seemed to survive anyway. This gives me great comfort. Even greater comfort than having a plan. Maybe tomorrow I will just wing it and see what happens and maybe dinner will materialize and girls will get to their activities, homework will be done and kids will get to bed eventually. I’m sure it must happen elsewhere without a well thought-out plan.
Okay, that is totally not going to happen here.
And dear neighbors, please ignore the blood in the alley. I know it looks like a crime scene, but it’s totally not.