Here I sit, hunched over the keyboard wearing a fur coat reminiscent of one Corporal Maxwell Klinger during his drag days. I've been working at this desk since shortly after 11 this morning and the cold has settled into my center leaving my extremities horribly unprotected. So I put the coat on and immediately flashed into the body of Klinger, horrible hard plastic curlers and all. I could almost taste the frozen cigar. It passed but if I so much glance at my hands poking out of the sleeves it comes right back.
It all went bad last night when neither of us got enough sleep on a night before an interview day. BD has run off to the city and I'm left to gather the girl on my own and get out to that bus stop on time. Not that this is terribly difficult, it just requires some forethought and maybe a couple extra brain cells I didn't have this morning. We got out there on time, I was dressed and had my coat and car keys and everything. I threw my stuff in the car, turned the engine over and then listened for the bus. Didn't hear it. I sent my six year old to the end of the drive way and told her to wait for the bus but stay out of the road. I was just going in the house to retrieve my coffee; how long can this take? While I'm retrieving my coffee the bus is coming and my girl is getting on and crying hysterically only I don't know this at the time. I come tearing out the front door because I've heard the bus and the bus driver slows down so I can wave to my girl. I think everything is OK and head out to work.
I get precisely 1.6 miles down the road and realize I've forgotten my keycard. A cardinal sin if ever there was one because you can't move two inches without it in my building. You can't even get in the garage. I turn around and head back North as fast as I dare and BD texts to say he'll call in five. I text back '6'. I make it back to the house, to the card, back into the car and go tearing back down my street just in time to dive in front of the bus that's finally made it all the way around our circle. I floor it, take the corner in an icey power slide and head back out to the main drag. My next objective is to get back into cell zone before six minutes have elapsed.
I make it back just fine except my cell phone battery is behaving badly and I need to take it to the nearest Verizon store for resuscitation or something. I chat with BD for ten minutes, hang up and see that I have a single bar of battery life left. This cannot be good. I contemplate a trip directly to Verizon but don't trust them to be open before 9 so I head to the office, plug myself in and then look at my phone. It has all four battery bars again. Lying Bastard. At 10:15 my phone rings. It's the school. Baby has been into the nurse's office twice with a tummy ache and she just isn't herself. Alexis the nurse knows my girl and she's right, Little Girl is not a complainer. I tell her I'll be right there, send an email to my internals and head back out the door. So much for Verizon.
I make record time back home, rush into the building and gather up my girl in my arms. Alexis is right, she is just plain wrong today. We head to the car. She is pure misery and barely speaking. I turn right onto the main drag and my phone rings. It's daughter number one who is crying so hard I can barely understand her. Seems she's been locked out of the high school for more than an hour because there wasn't a bus and testing is over and neither her Daddy or Step mom will come to get her. I ask her where she thinks I am and I mean to be teasing because I'm right around the corner but it just pushes her over the deep end and she chokes out the fact that she just needed to talk to somebody. I swing around and head back to the high school to pick her up. In the mean time she calls her father and tells him she has a ride. He calls me immediately. This is strange. Normally we try never to speak and I don't realize until later that he and his wife have abandoned her in the cold because it was inconvenient to get her and he is now horrified that her momma has appeared out of nowhere and found out. I pull up and watch her come across the yard.
She hasn't got the car door shut before she's come completely unhinged and falls into my arms. This is not my girl, she doesn't like anyone to see her cry much less come so apart in public. I notice first thing how bad her hair smells. She has not bathed since her Sunday evening shower before she left my house for the week. She is a mess. We sit that way for awhile and rock until she can breathe again. Her face is so horribly cold. She is not dressed to spend sixty minutes at 20 degrees and wind chill.
All the while I am wondering when the six year old in the back seat is going to become explosive and cover my car in copious vomit. I drive Lucia home and while I do I talk about ways she can save herself and try to work into her that more than being a victim of abandonment, which is what this started out as and then became so much worse, she can do something about this. She agrees this is so and I don't think she'll stand still for an hour in extreme cold again. After all, our local police station is no more than half a mile from the high school. Consider the possibilities of a small community.
By the time I get Little Girl home she seems to have perked up. But then I pull into the driveway and see Mike's car. Now why in God's name could he not have gotten her? I also notice the front of his vehicle has recently seen an accident. We go inside. First I ask about his known whereabouts. Apparently everyone but Lucia knew where he was but nobody thought to call him. I don't even want to think about this. I ask about the car. He tells me he took his meds and fell asleep at the wheel and hit a town truck in broad daylight. Why he still has a license is beyond me. We have a go around about that, I settle him down and we come up with a plan that involves some weensie bit of personal responsibility and a call to any of his three docs.
Then I turn to my girl and ask her why her tummy hurts. She tells me it doesn't hurt at all anymore. Hasn't hurt, as a matter of fact, since I picked her up. I am flabbergasted. Of all my children, this one is remarkably frank. So instead of chastising her about calling Mommy away from work (which my babies know from the cradle is a bad idea without good reason) I ask her why. So she tells me. "I cried and cried when I got on the bus when you were inside. I was so scared. I didn't stop being scared. I was scared even at school and my tummy wouldn't stop hurting so I went to the nurse. The nurse sent me back but it still hurt. So she called you. And now I'm OK."
And you know what? I actually get it.
Lucia is probably OK by now too. I don't like that her father punished her for missing her bus and left her out in the cold but she won't be helpless like that again either. Also, she promised to wash her hair. I don't care how bad it gets, like the British, I agree, if you can pick yourself up and maintain some level of dignity and normalcy well then there's a pretty good chance you can pull yourself through whatever it is as well.