Some Days Are Just Like That

Posted on July 8, 2011 by

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Some days are just like that

You think you had a crappy day? Read about mine.

In Judith Viorst’s “Alexander’s Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair.

I did not wake up with gum in my hair. I woke up with every intention of a breezy summer day’s visit with my friend Larisse who had come all the way from Vancouver, BC.

When loved ones come into our homes we expose the rat’s nest of our lives. So, though I had no gum in my hair, I had a rat’s nest of complications to attend to before I was free to play with Larisse.

The day’s goal: find two free hours to TALK, that web-spinning type of talk. Talk that drifts from sex lives, to good books, to make up, to children, older  parents’ illnesses, shoes, plans, hopes and dreams.

But before the two coveted hours could occur, I had to co-parent with my ex-husband via tense phone calls about scheduling. And drop my daughter off for her first day of camp.

My daughter goes to a camp where campers choose “majors” and spend hours perfecting the art of improvisational theatre, honing their photography skills or sitting in the shade practicing French. Well, they do said activities if the child’s parent has remembered to sign the child up for their first, second and third choice. I had not. I could see the paper, in my mind, on my dining room/desk/dumping pile for all things important and all things with no place to go.

My daughter had filled out the paperwork in her neat handwriting and entrusted it to me. I had completely dropped the ball. She graciously, other than a fleeting accusatory glare, accepted that she would be playing chess instead of flexing her acting muscles. I felt horrible. When I sidled up to the camp director, I broke my parenting rule of not asking for exceptions for my child. Though I still believe that is an excellent tenet, I snapped it in half and begged the director. He agreed to shuffle her around, saying what a great kid she was. He offered calmly, that she might take the opportunity of my dropping the ball so egregiously to learn how to gently remind me when there is paperwork involved.

The last thing I imagined being helpful that moment–as I was surrounded by women clutching keys to their idling Volvos and smelling like they’d been anointed head to pedicured toes in Aveda products–was how helpful having my teenage daughter remind me of anything I had not done well would be. But I agreed with the camp director that he had a fine point and shamefully shuffled toward my dented and, by that point, bird shit-covered car. I’d parked beneath a tree of birds who’d feasted on berries.

After I dropped my daughter off and bribed the camp director, I headed home. iPhone clutched to my ear (my iPhone is a new purchase and I am still learning how to stay connected when on a phone call) I called my son’s doctor’s office.

My son still sees the doctor our children saw when I was married. The doctor is not my favorite person. He never was. He is arrogant and arrogance and reassurance are not sold together. My ex-husband believes the doctor is an excellent doctor and rather than battle about who our son saw, I agreed to keep the doctor for our son. Why not?

I had not anticipated what it would be like to deal with a doctor I already did not like after he’d learned about my private life. You see, my ex-husband visited the doctor during our divorce and filled him in on the sordid details of our marriage’s demise. Let’s just say, if the man had low regard for me before, I was not elevated by my husband’s version of things that lead up to our divorce.

So, mostly I don’t deal with my son’s doctor. But on that day–the day my only goal was supposed to be to talk to my friend from Vancouver–I had to call the arrogant doctor’s office.

My son, in order to attend a pre-college art studio program for two weeks, needed a Meningitis vaccination. I called to 1. See whether or not he’d received one the year before 2. If he had not, to make an appointment for my son to get the vaccination.

The day ended with images of my son’s spine cushioned in puss, his brain smothered in the stuff. And ended without an appointment or a shot or any foreseeable shot.

And the various problems I had encountered with my ex-husband and my son’s doctor’s office? Each and every one had felt distinctly personal.

I had no real reason, other than sheer paranoia bred of having spent AN HOUR on hold with the hospital to secure an appointment for the vaccination. Or the three conversations with the receptionist. I had been careful to be respectful when she referred to the doctor’s signature like it was Obama’s signature on a declaration of war. I had been respectful and patient. And then, at five minutes of five (the office closed at five), I received a call.

I did not answer the phone, because the one minute of that day the newfangled iPhone had not been attached to me. The message from the doctor. He was confused. Had he not already written the prescription for the vaccination a year ago? Still, there was not verification of my son receiving the vaccination from the hospital…anyway, could I give the office a call to clarify?

Ah, but my day with the receptionist had BEGUN with clarification. Eight hours earlier when I’d attempted to make a four-minute long doctor’s appointment for a vaccination, I had said: “A year earlier, my ex-husband had gotten the prescription for the vaccination and had not taken my son to receive the shot.” These things happen. We parents don’t always follow through. I’d left my daughter’s camp choices wafting about on the table for god’s sake.

No matter. All explanations aside, at five minutes after five, the doctor’s office now closed, the window for making sure my son’s spine did not get encased in pustie menegies. I looked at the iPhone and its cheery interface and told it to stop fucking smiling. It was not funny.

But, in the words of wise, wise Judith Viorst, some days are like that. Some days, your rat’s nest is where you reside and some days, you spin webs of conversation and some days, you do both. Larisse and I found a bottle of wine, and a couch, at the end of the day.

(image: google image)

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