I mean, Come ON!!!! First, I have to single-handedly cart three puking kids and one irate toddler across four states. Then, my car battery dies. Then, my kids and I get caught outside in a wicked rain storm. Then they misspell a word on Jeff's long awaited headstone, and, now . . . HEAD LICE! Who am I? Job???
Yes, you read that correctly. Today, one of my kids (who shall remain nameless because she doesn't want the rest of the third grade to know she has head lice) came down with a world class, first-rate case of it. Another third-grader's mother called to let me know that head lice was traveling like wildfire through the third grade. (The same exact thing happened last year but we fortuitously avoided it). This year we weren't so lucky. After I spoke with the other mom on the phone I said to [my daughter], "head lice is going around your class, so don't wear anyone else's coat or hug your friends or anything like that because it's easy to catch, blah blah blah." To which she replied "I already have head lice." I said, "what makes you think that?" And she said, "I saw a bug crawling in my hair."
Keep in mind that at this point, Regan, Jack, Finn and I were crammed uncomfortably into the Alero (our little silver car) because the van didn't have any car seats in it and (as usual) we were running late to get to Family Night at Aubrey's play (she is in the middle school's production of "The King and I"). I had arrived home from work around 5:30 p.m. and couldn't remember what time the play was supposed to start, so I called Aubrey. She didn't answer her phone, so I left her a voicemail message. By the time I got home and changed clothes and turned on the computer to check the start-time of the play, it was 5:45 p.m. So, of course, I discovered the play started at 6:00 p.m. (and it's a 10 minute drive). None of us had eaten dinner. I was starving, the kids were starving, but it was going to be our only opportunity to see the play and I didn't want to miss Aubrey's performance. So, I made each of us a quick and sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat in the car on the way over. It was as I was making the sandwiches that my friend (the third grader's mom) called to tell me about the lice outbreak. It was in the car on the way to the play that Regan made her announcement that she was already seriously afflicted. So, given that I was already rushed, late, starving, and exhausted (I was up until 1:00 a.m. the night before), I was in no mood to receive such news.
When we got to the play and got out of the car, I immediately checked Regan's hair and she was absolutely and undeniably infested. Big Time. So, after the play, I dropped everyone off at home while I ran to the drugstore to stock-up on lice shampoo and this nifty lice-killer spray. I then drove through McDonald's to supplement my children's peanut butter and jelly dinners. To add insult to injury--I ordered a Big Mac and discovered when I got home they gave me a Quarter Pounder with cheese instead-on TWO bottom buns (no "top" bun in sight). And the cheese wasn't even melted. Ugh! Fortunately, I only had time to eat half of it before Finn commandeered my coke and fries and Regan needed to have her hair washed (it was after 9:00 p.m. at this point . . .) and I still hadn't even thought about having to wash and clean the beds, the couch, the pillows, her coat, etc. As I was trying to simultaneously scarf down my food, feed Finn, and maintain some semblance of composure, I said to no one in particular "Why can I NOT get a break?" to which Jack replied, "Shouldn't you ask, 'Why can ALL OF US not get a break?'" I had to agree with him. Poor Jack had been ignored all night while we watched Aubrey's play and tended to Regan's crisis. Regan was feeling rejected and embarrassed because no one would sit next to her at dinner. Finn was eating dinner in his bath towel with wet hair. Aubrey was still in her play make-up and had given Finn a bath for me while I ran to get the lice shampoo and accidental Quarter Pounder. None of us had had a particularly good day.
Now, it is after 11:00 p.m. and I'm in the middle of a long night of laundry. The kids are in bed and I have time to reflect and really . . . it's not so bad. I mean, Job lost his farm, his house, all of his ten children, his reputation, etc. So, my daughter has lice and my baby has a diaper rash and my seven-year old got ignored most of the night? All of it seems so petty and minor. And I know some people look to me as an example of how much worse things could always be for them, but I want everyone to know that despite my elaborations on the blog, my misfortunes really aren't misfortunes at all (with the exception of Jeff's death of course). I only make a big deal out of them because I have to handle them entirely on my own. At least when Jeff was alive I had someone to commiserate with. Now, I bear the full brunt of these experiences all by myself.
Maybe it wouldn't be so different if Jeff were alive (he would have NEVER undertaken the unsavory lice mitigation task. I can attest to the fact that the shampoo and subsequent combing of nits is particularly nasty), but he would have given Jack attention and read him a book while I did the shampooing. He would have rocked Finn and sang him lullabies while I washed and sprayed down the bedding. He would have told Aubrey what a great job she did in the play--because at least one of us would have actually seen all of it. (As it was, I spent most of it in the hallway chasing a sweaty and red-cheeked toddler). He would have given Finn a bath so Aubrey could relax after a 12-hour day at school instead of going straight to work helping with the little kids. It is physically exhausting and emotionally draining for me, for Aubrey--and for all of us, really. And it takes some very hearty and resilient self-esteem to keep going: it's very easy to feel like a negligent parent; an expendable employee; a marginal friend; and a general incompetent when I am constantly reminded of the things I can't do well (get someplace on time; feed children dinner; jump-start a battery, kill lice). I wish I had some happiness and excitement to motivate me. It is much easier to do it all with an undercurrent of joy and anticipation to push you along. Oh well. I trust things will get better and even if they don't--they will have to get a WHOLE lot worse before any of my complaining will be justified. Besides, tomorrow is a new day (National Shrimp Scampi Day, to be exact).
In the meantime, I woke up today with a sore throat and cough. I hope it's that Swine Virus. I could use a three-day quarantine. :-)