Birthday thoughts

I may have celebrated a birthday this week. It was not a milestone birthday, though it is one leading me perilously close to a major milestone.

Birthdays always make me introspective. As mine comes toward the end of the year, while everyone is running best-of-the-year lists and such, I tend to blend all this retrospection together. End of the year, plus I made it through another year, what am I doing with my life, whatever.

However, the day did not lend itself to retrospection. My daughter was home sick with strep throat. She'd been miserable the night before, and even in the morning woke up in severe pain. She is the most — I'm not sure what is the right word — fragile of my kids. She's tiny, usually clocking in just over the 5th percentile BMI where they start worrying. This is her third infection in a year, and given that the first line antibiotics didn't work on the last ear infection and we had to go to secondary options, I was worried we might have the same issue this time. Later in the morning, though, the antibiotics kicked in. It was close to miraculous. "Mommy, my neck doesn’t hurt anymore!" So instead of dealing with moaning, I was more dealing with demands every 15 minutes to choose a new cartoon or forward through commercials (scrolling through a menu is tough when you can’t read — G took the 2-year-old to his regular classes since I was home in the AM, and could take sick-duty).

So…one kid home sick. As I was getting the two healthy school-aged kids on the bus, my husband called to report that he'd just been in a car accident. He had to stop suddenly on the entrance to the highway as another car slammed on the brakes, and then the car behind him did not stop fast enough. Fortunately, both he and the other driver were OK, and while there will be some major fixing required, it is fixable.

I hadn't gotten these details while the boys were getting on the bus — I just knew there had been an accident. My husband called me, but then had to hang up because the police had arrived. About half an hour later I got a call from the school. I assumed it was the nurse calling to report that one of my boys had gotten sick too. Instead, it was my 10-year-old. He had heard me on the phone, and was worried about his father. So he stopped by the office (after bringing down the lunch orders — his daily job) to call home to ask if he was OK. Very sweet — and I was thankful it wasn't another illness call (which would have meant I would need to load one sick kid in the car to go get another!).

But no, we were not done with troubles. Mid-afternoon, the 2-year-old was having "quiet time" in his room. We heard a crash. G and I raced up. He had managed to pull over a dresser. Somehow — miraculously — not on himself. Whatever Houdini aspect of his personality has him climbing the furniture also let him escape. He was sitting next to the toppled dresser, rubbing his head, more puzzled than upset. I, however, was upset. We have some other pieces of furniture secured to the walls, but not that one. I guess we hadn't thought he’d climb that one.* His ability to seek out danger is so far beyond what any of my other kids have done. Until he develops some common sense someone really has to watch him every waking minute. So chunks of the rest of the afternoon before I left for the airport (for a speaking engagement the next day) were spent getting straps to put that dresser back up and lock it to the wall.

So…trouble in threes? Strep, a car accident, a toppled dresser. Not a great way to celebrate my birthday, although all three of those could have gone much more horribly. So there's that.

I had a nice glass of sauvignon blanc on the plane to O’Hare. We arrived on time. That always makes me feel festive.

(Though on the trip back to the east coast, I dropped my phone in the airport and the screen shattered. Argh!)

*His explanation: he was climbing up the dresser to get his brother's clothes out of one of the top drawers, which he was then putting on the lamp to dim the light. So he could have potentially started a fire too.

Photo: drawing by 6-year-old, family portrait

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12 Responses to Birthday thoughts


  1. Stijn says:

    A belated and very happy birthday, Laura, from one of your readers via RSS. I was pleasantly surprised to also hear you appear on the Blinkist podcast.

    • @Stijn- Thanks! And thanks for listening to that podcast – it was a fun one.

      • Stijn says:

        You’re welcome. I hope it was a lovely birthday. Two days later, and today it’s mine. Such a lovely long weekend.

  2. Lindsey says:

    I am so thankful your little guy was unharmed…. how scary for you all. Fingers crossed the “every dang minute” phase passes soon. Also, hot (no pun intended) tip: If you switch to LED bulbs, the lamps should run so cool that if clothes do get flung over it, there won’t be a fire.

    • @Lindsey – thanks. We do have LED bulbs in a lot of places. I’ll have to check on that one because…yeah.

  3. Tana says:

    Wow! This, too, shall pass. That glass of wine was well-deserved!

  4. Sharon says:

    Laura I am so glad everyone is ok! You had a great fable of a birthday…I know there are lessons about fragility of life and blessedness of existence in there somewhere!

    • @Sharon – Yes, I’m choosing to view all of it as turning out better than it could have. And to be thankful that stuff like major car repairs, or the need to repair or replace my phone is just not that big a deal.

  5. beth says:

    What a birthday!

    By the way, if you have ceiling fans they are also super tempting for a child to try and climb onto something high and then jump and try to grab the spinning fan in hopes to swing wildly around in circles. Just a warning. Both of my kids are like your youngest. I have no idea what it would be like to live with kids who aren’t constantly a danger to themselves and others.

  6. Anne says:

    Happy Birthday Laura! What a day! I do admire your attitude despite the circumstances.

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