There is one thing I can always count on. If Briefcase leaves on an extended trip, things will go wrong. Usually very big things. If he is on a routine 2-4 day trip things MIGHT go wrong, but if he is somewhere several thousand miles away it is guaranteed. I could fill up pages upon pages of examples but I will give you just a couple … just so you can kind of get a feel for it.
There was the time when TR and RC (just 16 months apart) were still under the age of 3. When I pretty much never got any sleep between the two of them. Briefcase took off for a week or so on a business trip … and both kids came down with a terrible case of Chicken Pox within 3 days of each other. This was about a year or so before they came out with the vaccine. TR even had them in her mouth and for the entire week both kids cried and fussed and I literally never went to bed I just went from one to the other trying to take care of them. I don’t think I have ever been as exhausted as I was when a week later Briefcase walked in all cheery from his trip. He was happy to be home and announced he had "forgotten" to tell me his parents were arriving shortly from out of state for dinner and the weekend, "but no big deal we can just barbeque or something". It is possibly the closest I have ever come to committing homicide. Seriously.
Then there was the time when all the neighborhood kids were out playing baseball in our cul de sac. Kids of all ages playing a pick-up game like they used to do nearly every day. Briefcase, was somewhere far away – Boston I think. PR has always been the youngest in our neighborhood and from the moment he was born he has carried around a baseball glove in total hero worship of all the older boys. He literally would SLEEP with his glove instead of a teddy bear as a toddler. All of a sudden someone yelled to me that PR had gotten hurt. Expecting a skinned knee I turned to find PR (age 5) face down in the street, unconscious, with a pool of blood surrounding his head. As I raced towards him preparing to do CPR, I screamed for one of the kids to call 911. PR had been hit in the chest with a baseball bat by a 13 year old HUGE kid. It was an accident. There was an impression and instant bruise on his chest of the bat … and the impact had literally stopped his heart. When he fell face down unconscious, the impact had split open his face and that is where all the blood was coming. (I had thought initially he had been hit in the head.)
The paramedics were there within minutes and helped revive PR, but he lost consciousness again in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I will never forget the look of shock on the paramedic’s face when he lifted PR’s shirt and said to his fellow paramedic, "Oh my God, look at this you can see where the bat indented his chest." It is the closest I have ever come to losing a child and I can’t describe the fear I had that day. For weeks after I would wake in the middle of the night and go check on PR – just to make sure he was still breathing. Again, Briefcase arrived home many days later having heard about the event … but not having FELT it. I always got the impression in the following weeks that he could not understand my "post traumatic stress" because by the time he heard about the whole event, it was clear PR would be FINE and just need some follow-up EKGs.
There have been smaller disasters too – lots of them. For example, the time the kids bathtub would not turn off and the faucet ran for ages threatening to flood the house as I frantically searched for the main water valve … eventually leading to no running water for the entire house until a plumber could come out. I know life is full of these kind of events and it is part of the general life of a family. But in our family you can pretty much count on these events happening when Briefcase is out of town.
That brings me to yesterday. Briefcase is in Europe right now. I have an extremely stressful, over-booked week this week. As I arrived home around 5 p.m. yesterday, I pulled my 3 month old car into the garage … and all of a sudden heard a huge BAM on the car. I braked, I looked around frantically trying to see what I had hit. I got out of the car … and realized our garage door opener had broken (chain dangling from it) and the garage door itself had slammed down on the top of my BRAND NEW CAR!!! OMG! The car is damaged, the opener needs to be replaced, and it looks like possibly the garage door itself is damaged beyond repair. I know this is not serious in the big scheme of things. No one got hurt, everything will be fine. But dollar signs are flashing in my head as to what this is going to COST to fix. Thousands … I think it is going to cost thousands. But it will have to wait till NEXT week because I don’t have a day this week where I can be home waiting for repair guys or taking my car into the shop. Next week … hmmmm. Briefcase will be home by then — maybe I’ll just let him deal with it!