Archives for July 2013

The Invisible Post About Poop, Pee, Mothers, and Breakdowns

Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso

Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso

I wasn’t going to post because it’s the Fourth of July, it’s summer, and very few people seem to be around.  But then…

My car broke down.

It didn’t just break down and glide elegantly off to the side of the road, either.

I had just dropped my son off at camp, run my other kid to the FedX station to drop off poop and pee (more on that later), and gave the kid to my Dad.  I stopped for gas, cruised through McDonald’s for a soda, delighted that I was going to get at least one day this week to go to the gym.  Then right at the “t” where the two lanes of McDonald’s drive-through traffic merge, conveniently located so NO ONE could get by me, that’s when all the lights came on.

The car shook a little.

Then it stopped.

My key would not come out of the ignition and I couldn’t put the car into any other gear than Drive.

I got out and apologized to the people in cars behind me.  Everyone was nice about it.  One man offered a jump.

Suddenly several young male McDonald’s employees were pushing my car out of the way.  McDonald’s drive-through stops for no man (or woman in the way). No one was listening to each other.  All I heard as I trailed behind was,”SOMEONE HAS TO STEER IT!” (no one thought to get in the driver’s seat) and “DON”T LET IT HIT THE WALL!”.

I got a jump and the car started and died 10 seconds later.

It was 95 degrees and it took an hour and forty-five minutes for AAA to come.

Everyone said it was the alternator, it turned out that it was a wee bit more than that.  It was an oil leak from a valve that sits over the alternator, and the whole thing was $1,550 plus tax, the day before 4th of July.

This car has 109,000 miles on it.  It had been to the other dealership nearer my home a couple of months ago and all they said I needed was an oil change and four new tires.  We spent $1,000 on the tires, which I thought was crazy considering the age of the car.  Apparently that’s what “good” tires cost these days.

All I really wanted was for the car to last long enough for me to pay it off in December.  I had just been asking it if it would kindly give me another six months or a year of no car payments.

Apparently it thought I said,”Six DAYS.”

Also apparently when your car lights flicker on and off for no reason every few weeks, that is a SIGN and you are supposed to take it back to the dealer even though it was just at the dealer.

Wishing it away wasn’t going to help, I guess.

I got a loaner until Friday, due to the holiday, and it’s a push button car.  My SunPass for the freeway tolls is permanently attached to my car, and my exit has no attendant, so I had to take the long way home after killing the day.  I realized that the one thing the very nice man at the dealership did not think to remind me to take with me was my house keys.

What is it about major changes in life that seem to generate other major changes??

Our house situation and job situation (okay let’s just say “financial situation”) were off the rails for three years and got suddenly solved nearly simultaneously.  We needed extra money for housing, I got a job…and a TON of other bills falling on my head.

The question, I suppose, is would those other bills have come along anyway?  And the job is a solution to a problem?  Is it just that after years of not being able to immediately handle any and all repairs and replacements, things just get old and give out eventually?

Or is it an energetic thing?

I am firmly NOT waiting for the other shoe to drop this time.  Usually that’s my old default position,”Gee that wonderful thing just happened, better not get too happy about it or something else will come around to bite me in the butt.”  Nope, I was thankful, truly glad, and optimistic.

I’d love to say that my last week before work begins was spent tooling around town with my son, but it wasn’t.  The house almost didn’t close because of some open permits that we apparently inherited when we bought the place, but no one told us about.  That’ll be a few bucks to close out.  The dogs had to go for a very expensive annual visit.  Camp for the kids was over $500 a week, and since I’m going back to work I signed everyone up for more weeks.  Every time I turned around I was spending $500 on this and $500 on that, to the point that I realized my credit card had no more limit, and then the car thing happened.

Ironically I got in a couple of checks for, you guessed it, $500.

As I was waiting for the car estimate, I was saying,”Please let it come in under $500!” but in my head I heard,”Eighteen hundred dollars.”  I thought surely my intuition was wrong, it could not conceivably be that much for an alternator, and when I heard $1,550 I thought maybe it was $1,800 with tax?  But no, it turned out that they were suggesting a fuel servicing also, which had I taken it would have been, drum roll please, $1,800.

The funnier part was that, Mercury Retrograde being what it is, combined with having a mischievous five-year old boy in the house, everything started losing itself in the house.  We lost three Nintendo DSes, two flip-flops (right sandal only on each, and yes I would have made him wear a mismatched pair to the pool if only I had a right and a left), a monster box made at camp, and all three remote controls.  I was wandering the house as usual at 2am looking for ANY working remote and actually found myself crawling across the kids’ bed while they slept, with a booklight, feeling around on the floor by the side of the bed where I know he keeps it.  I had scoured the house looking for those flip-flops so when something else would go missing I was shaking my head,”Where could it be??  I just looked everywhere!”

Then the poop thing.  One of the kids needed some medical tests to check for allergies and problems with their gut.  First was the blood work, which required an hour, three phlebotomists, a butterfly needle, and four glasses of ice water to produce.  Then they refused to do the specialist test because it had to go to another lab which wasn’t Quest.  I wasn’t putting a little kid through that again.

Then there were poop and pee tests, which had to be done at home by Guess Who.  You need to time the tests, which means that you have to collect two samples within four days.  Naturally the child, who apparently really does have problems with his guts, cannot do that.  First test scrapped, one 30 minute conversation about poop with the nurse, and a lot of fiber later, the new kit came, and I was determined that this one should get out in time to FedX.

You don’t really want to see me when I am determined.

Miraculously, this time we had success.  You know you are a parent when you can, must, and will, do what was required to get that kit put together for your kid.  My husband ignored me running around like a nut putting saran wrap on the toilet seat, instructing the child how he cannot pee on his poop (or the test will be ruined! Ruined, I say!), and taking the tiniest shovel in the world and getting samples “from multiple areas” in a tiny bottle, and not even getting squeamish when there was an issue with the lid and some spillover.  He just pretended that none of us were there.  Until the screaming started.

I had set the kid up, and he had to pee, so he took the saran wrap off the toilet seat and came to find me to put more on.  His brother came with him.  The goat tried to get in the house AGAIN and so I pushed him out of my way in a race to the bathroom, slamming the door as hard as I could so it would shut (a few years into that needing to be fixed).  The brother had his hand in the door at the time.

I didn’t know what to do first – get a bowl of ice for the screaming child whose hand I probably just broke, or run to the toilet for the other kid.

My husband had wandered off into the garage to tend his worms, fish and hydroponics, and probably just to get away from us.

Meanwhile my friends are posting about their glasses of wine, concerts, trips away for the holiday, but as I say, I was determined.

Then it crossed my mind that the Wednesday overnight deadline would mean that the frozen package would arrive at the lab on the 4th of July and they would be closed.

Well, crossing fingers, I’m sending it anyway.

Then after a trip through the industrial part of town that I didn’t even know was there, we found FedX Central and the lady said,”Did you know this package is kind of wet.”

“It has an ice pack in it,” I told her, and prayed that nothing was actually leaking, rendering the test moot.

Then we went to the car and I heard,”Mom?  Mom, what actually happens if you get a little pee on it?”

“How much pee are we talking about?”

“I think it was two drops.”

“Well,” I told him,”Lets just hope that the samples didn’t touch the pee.  It’s in God’s hands now.”

And so it is.  All of it is.