Time for K’s check-up at Goryeb Children’s Hospital. This time I was bringing both kids. This time I was prepared. I had snacks, I had toys, I had diapers and wipes, enough to wipe and cover the butts of all the babies in the free world. I left an hour and a half before the appointment. There was no i left un-dotted, there was not uncrossed. I was Wonder Woman. Watch out Linda carter, I’m comin’ at you like a spider monkey.
I cinched the children into their car seats and whipped my lasso of Justice, sure that I could make it through unscathed. This time, I will not mistake the mural for the elevator.
Turns out, not so much.
It started as soon as we got in the car.
“Mommy, wader, WADER”.
Naturally, she had thrown her sippy cup to the furthest reaches of the backseat floor. This is how it goes:
Sip, throw, and then wail until Mommy pulls over and gets it for you.
I ended up distracted and going the wrong way to Goryeb Children’s Hospital. I had to flip a bitch in my gigantic highlander on the narrowest back lake road in existence. If it were five feet wide at its widest, that would have been a blessing.
I gave it my very best k turn, in an area where hardly anyone ever drives by, and suddenly it was the fucking highway. I was moving back and forth, gaining a whole two inches at a time, back and forth, for at least nine thousand tries. I was sweating in my own car, with the air blasting in my face, as car after car piled up to, irritably, watch me inch my way to freedom. Six miles back, people were getting out of their cars and having conversations with other drivers about what could possibly be the holdup. In the other direction, they have all engaged in their own fruitless k turns, just to get away from me.
Finally, I dislodged my giant SUV from the tiny road. We were headed the proper direction, and I’m glad I padded our trip with asshole time. (Asshole time is an extra half hour tacked on for whenever I do something stupid.)
J stole k’s stuffed animal; mayhem ensues. I pulled over to find that k has extracted herself from her car seat, (you know, the seat with eight thousand straps specially designed to keep the child in? She has that one.) and was working her way across the car to take it back. Mayhem ensues. The toy was confiscated, the child was returned to her seat (because I am Wonder Woman).
At that point, I was late. There was no avoiding that issue. It’s okay, though. I was still Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman can be late sometimes.
J was reading a book in the car. He became nauseous. I said:
Me: You’re nauseous because you’re reading in the car
J: no, I’m not, I just have to hurl.
(I pulled over. Leather and puke don’t get along.)
J: NOOO!!! I have to ralph at home in our toilet!!!
Me: J. We’re a half hour from home, and if you really gotta blow chunks, you gotta blow them here.
Mayhem ensues. I was directed to turn around and go home. Mayhem ensues. Plus, we were in Mendham, so when I pulled my kid out of the car to barf, it was on a million dollar lawn.
Just as a point of fact, he did not spew on the lawn.
Goryeb Children’s Hospital is a big place. Three stories, a million doctors, and four parking spots, which are located a convenient fifteen miles from the building. Today, there were just too many Mommies fighting to the death for those four spots. I drove back to the building, looking for street parking, outrageously overpriced off street parking, or anything else, when I find that Goryeb Children’s hospital offers valet parking.
Those motherfuckers. They offer four parking spots fifteen miles from the hospital, so mommies like me who neglect to bring their jogging stroller and velour tracksuit, have no choice but to pay them twelve billion dollars to hand over their keys to some sketchy guy in a fez.
We used the valet. I feel dirty.
We were awfully late. When we finally got upstairs, and I gave them my flimsy excuse,
“traffic made me late– I swear on a stack of bibles” (it was 11am)
I was greeted with dirty looks.
This is, after all, my SECOND visit. I should have included some asshole time to my trip.
We went and sat down on the brightly colored seats to wait an extremely long time to see the doctor. I’m pretty sure they did that on purpose.
The kids looked at the fish tank, craned their little necks to watch Spongebob, and ran back and forth in the room thousands of times, winning me the stink eye from all the other parents in the room who had directed their children to sit still. My kids stole their children away with a simple
“but those kids are…”
Stolen away, to swing from the rafters with my two angels, but I am Wonder Woman. Your stink eye cannot penetrate my superhero powers.
After several hours, many children coming and going from my sons gang of roughens, and a highly coincidental crayon-on-wall incident, (not my kid) they put us in a room.
K was immediately stripped to the diaper. J, in solidarity with his sister, took off his pants. Ordinarily I would have chosen to ignore this particular display, but apparently j had chosen this day to “go commando”. We had words. He got a time out; I put him in the corner by the table. I looked away once and when I looked back, he was gone. He had climbed into the tiny triangle of space between the table (which came out of the wall like an ironing board) and the wall. I told him to do his time out there. (Ha! Bet he didn’t expect that. It looked MAD uncomfortable in there)
J got out of time out. He told me he was sorry (not), and then went to play with the curtain. Thirty seconds later, just as I went to deal with child extraction number four: children inside curtain, rolled up like a swiss cake roll, two things happen at once. The doctor came in, and k sat down, taking the curtain with her. My children were revealed, in a puddle of curtain that ought to be hanging on the rod. Luckily, it was a U-shaped rod, so it didn’t land on anybody’s head.
The doctor stared. I’m no longer Wonder Woman. I wasn’t even Linda Carter in that Pantene commercial she did twenty years ago.
I thought a quick-witted quip might ease the tension, so I said
I tried to convey by the stern look I gave my kids that this was all their fault. If she had asked, I would have totally thrown them under the bus. I think Dr. F found herself then, because in between telling us how okay the situation was, and how the curtain must have been loose anyhow, and how she’s sure children do this sort of thing all the time, she managed to give me the stink eye. My shields were penetrated.
I think they knew that should anything else happen, I’d tip the sketchy guy in the fez who parked our car with two children.
I have to go back in three months.
If this were something profound, I suppose you’d call this the epilogue. Since its not… Read it anyhow.
While I was waiting, and the kids were craning their necks to watch spongebob, there was a call on the loudspeaker. A calm cool voice came on and said
“code blue on the second floor, oncology, code blue on the second floor, oncology”.
I watched as a couple of white-clad personnel clicked through the door of our wing and walked down the hall. I was uncomfortable; This is a children’s hospital. There shouldn’t be a code blue anything for anything ever. Then the call came again a few minutes later
“Code blue, second floor, oncology. Code blue, second floor, oncology.”
Another few minutes went by and the white clad people come back. They didn’t look like they’d had a very good time. I was on the second floor. I have a pretty good idea where they went. I can’t get it out of my mind. Somewhere nearby, there’s a Mama just like me who’d lost her baby to cancer. It stayed with me like a headache in the back of my brain. Over and over, her baby’s gone, her baby’s gone…
On the way home, after a full day of pillaging, J and K fell asleep in the car.
I just sat there, listening to them breathe, and I gave thanks for them and for that moment, for their breath, because I know somewhere in Morristown there is a Mama like me, who won’t ever hear her baby’s breath again. I said a prayer for her and her family. I hope you do too.