It's 1:30 on Friday afternoon. I need to feed Molly, change her, and wake up Max from his we-only-had-time-for-a-45-minute nap in order to get to Evan's school on time. I need to pick him up early so we can get to Molly's doctor's appointment at 2:40. She's coughing, and had been up all night coughing...and Baby Coughing makes me nervous. Respiratory infection in those teeny tiny lungs can get scary quickly.
We were headed to the doctor anyway this afternoon. All three kids are getting their flu shots. When I called the nurse in the morning about Molly, I "innocently" asked if we could just "give her lungs a quick listen" while we were there for the vaccinations....I knew the answer, but hoped anyway. "Nope," she countered, "We'll need to set an appointment for that." Sigh. Okay. So, 2:40 for Molly. 3:30 for the three. A bit of waiting, but not too bad.
Only....when we get there (a few minutes early!), we're the only patients in the entire place. The doctor comes in to listen to Molls and says to the nurse, "Why don't you go ahead and prep the vaccinations while I do the exam? Let's get all of this done at once," then he smiles at me, "so we can send these kiddos on their way to enjoy the day." Yes! Common sense prevails! Why SHOULD we have to go back to the waiting room and SIT for an hour when there's NO ONE else there? Get these kiddos on their way!
So, Molly is just the perfect little patient and lets the doc listen to her slightly wheezy breathing. He prescribes a puff of Max's albuterol as an emergency treatment for wheezing but, because it's slight and because I haven't yet heard the distinctive barking cough of croup, he determines that it's probably just a virus that needs to run it's course. "But keep a close ear on her tonight," he instructs, "if you hear that barking cough, call first thing in the morning. I'll have a prescription ready to be signed in her chart. The doctor on call can just call it in and save you a return visit." Okay, this is beginning to sound a little too good to be true.
The three kiddos are vaccinated with relatively little drama (because I have SEEN flu shot drama, I have LIVED flu shot drama. I have crawled under chairs to retrieve a screaming, writhing child to get his shot kind of drama.). But today, we are on our way. I strap the seat belts, wipe and sanitize the hands, open the "Happy Flu Shot" lollipops, turn on the music to track number one...no three....no one...we finally all agree on four, and I pick up my cell phone to call Sam and tell him of Molly's good prognosis. I check the clock. It's 3:07. We should still be sitting in that waiting room. Instead, I glance over my shoulder, double check that straps are strapped, and look out the back window as I throw the car in reverse. And we are on our way to enjoy the day, I tell Sam on the other end of the phone...
I hear it. The unmistakable sound of metal scraping metal. I take my light foot off the gas and look in my mirrors. Damn it.
I backed into a parked car. I BACKED INTO A PARKED CAR.
Me. I've never gotten a parking ticket. I sweet-talked my way out of the one speeding ticket I should have gotten (I was 19). I am careful. I am aware. I pay attention. Only....I hadn't been. I was on the phone with Sam. I was distracted. I had two whimpery just-got-shots little ones behind me and one big boy in the way back who was professing his love for FluMist because "I just Really Don't Like getting the pokey kind of shots. You know, like the one Max and Molly had to get? I sure am a lucky guy that I don't have to get THAT kind. Man, those pokey shots HURT. But not the nose spray! Nope, not one bit!"
I wasn't paying ENOUGH attention.
And so, I repark the van. I leave three kids in their seats while I run 20 feet away to the pediatrician's front door. From there, I confess my sin to the now-filled waiting room (and want to, but don't, tell them of my otherwise stellar driving record). The car doesn't belong to anyone in the office, though, so back to the van I go to write a note.
As I'm writing, the peanut gallery behind me is abuzz with questions and comments:
What are you doing?
Why did you hit that car?
It isn't nice to break other people's cars.
Why do you have to tell them it was your fault?
Are you going to have to pay to fix it?
Is it going to cost too much money?
Next time you should check behind you before you start driving backwards.
It is a teachable moment to be sure....taking responsibility for your actions....being honest...hanging up the damn phone before you start driving...etc. And I try to capitalize on it. Also, talking helps me to focus and not feel so shaky. It's so unnerving, I'm learning, to hit another car with your own. Even if the damage amounts to just fairly superficial scrapes on a bumper. I'm shaky the rest of the day.
And, I'm on pins and needles all afternoon and evening awaiting the phone call. I have a feeling I'm going to get yelled at and I really don't like getting yelled at. Finally, as I'm reading to Evan at bedtime, the phone rings....I let it go to voicemail.
The message is short, but understanding. The woman has a thick accent and says she is looking forward to my return call. I piece together, following our phone conversation and email exchanges, an incomplete picture of her life.....she and her husband are here in the states for graduate school. One or both of them are students at the University. They have a little boy who attends daycare while they are at school/work. They only have one car between them that they rely on to get to school, work, and daycare.
Unbelievable. Could I have hand-picked a WORSE family to inconvenience with my negligence? Had the roles been reversed, we could have managed EASILY without a car for a day or two while repairs were made. We have THREE cars. For two drivers. I only HAVE to leave the house by car on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sam can walk or bike to work. Evan's school is within walking distance in the event of an emergency. But, no. I'm such a jerk. I'm just so thankful that they are being very gracious and understanding during this process. That isn't over yet. And won't be for some time.
So, finally, at the end of a seemingly endless day, I lay in bed ready for tomorrow. Ready for a good night's sleep. I close my eyes.
I hear it. The unmistakable sound of Croup. It's a tough night.
I call at 8:30 Saturday morning to get that prescription filled...the one the doctor left, just awaiting signature, in her file.
I call back at 10:30 when I still haven't heard back from the doctor on call confirming that he's filled it.
And then again at 2:30.
And then, finally, at 4, when I call for the fourth time and stop being polite, the prescription is called in and I can start to heal my baby. (After Sam waits another hour at the pharmacy for the damn thing to be filled.)
Karma's an unfair little diva. I'm SO SORRY about the car. Take it out on me, Universe, not my poor sweet baby girl.