4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
A funny thing happened on the way to the preschool.
Friday was a bleak and rainy morning and as per usual, we were late. Because no one would put on their scritch-scratching seat belts, that’s why. And because no one can button their own pants apparently, except Jasper who just remembered that Friday was his day for sharing at school. “Wait! WHAT are you sharing?!” So we speedy quick pulled out of the driveway and got stuck behind two school buses pretty much all. The way. To school.
After dropping Jasper off on the late side of on-time we headed through Essex and into Ipswich. And again we got stuck behind an SLK (Speed Limit Keeper.) Later still! And maybe I looked at the radio to find that Christmas station (yes folks, it’s November and we love that station) and maybe I quickly turned to look at Cabot after the twentieth, “Mama, look at me. Look at me. Mama, look. At me. Look at ME!”
We were almost to school in Ipswich on one of those back roads where every house has a placard that says “1700” and “1680”. Seriously, this was a road built at a time when they hadn’t yet envisioned a Model T, let alone a large Verizon truck.
For once I was actually paying attention while I was driving. As I adjusted speed I may have even pointed out the big Verizon truck up ahead. I slowed as he slowed. Then he stopped, and so I stopped. Then he started going backwards reallyfast. So I thought, “Wah?!” and “Blurg?!” and “Reverse, reverse, reverse!” and “He’s not stopping!” then…
“What dah?!” from the back row of the minivan.
That Verizon truck was now on the hood of my minivan or more aptly, embedded in my minivan. We disentangled and pulled into the parking lot of the little church up the street. When he pulled up next to me the poor driver asked if I was alright. I turned and asked, “You guys alright back there?” and I rolled down the back window.
“Aw, gahd! You got kids back thah?”
Do I have kids? I invented kids!
“Aw gahd. Ah they okay?”
And again from the back row, “Dad’s gonna be pissed. Do we get to call the police?!”
When I returned home I called the insurance company and got Shaniqua, not to be confused with “Uniqua” from the Backyardigans who, I assure you, would have been way more empathetic.
“License plate number?”
“Hahaha getting boots on. Weird I can’t remember it, right? Strange morning you know. Have you ever been in an accident? Oh, look. My license plate is actually cut in half. I seem to be missing a digit. Let me check the back plate. How weird is that, right? Hahaha.”
“You drove it home. Then it’s drivable.”
“I had three young kids in carseats on a cold, rainy morning, Shaniqua. No, it’s no longer drivable. Anyway, the frame is dented, pieces are falling off of it and it started to smell bad, so I don’t think you’d want me driving it on the highway.”
“Make and model of the vehicle that hit you?”
“It was a truck. You know, a big white utility Verizon truck? Not a Toyota Prius. Do big trucks even have makes and models? I can send you a picture…”
By the end of the conversation I finally had the chokey voice. “Hmm,” was all I had left.
Amazing how we respond in times of stress and how the responses of others fuel us, fueled me. When faced with the kindness, empathy and humor of a boatload of Verizon guys and a local Ipswich police officer, I was funny über-mama. Oh, no, hahaha, kids are fine. I’m fine! You shoulda seen the other guy! Hahaha.
But when faced with snarky insurance lady asking questions I didn’t have the answers to I pictured a truck backing over the front of my minivan with me and my three kids in it. I was powerless to stop it, to control any of it, in fact. Powerless. Could I have hit the horn sooner? Was I already outside the view of his mirrors when he reversed? Why didn’t I realize he’d stopped right away?
And we’re fine. My day was swallowed whole by insurance companies, adjusters, appraisers, moving car seats, going to the rental place, having a besty pick up the remaining child, waiting for the tow, talking to hubby: all good things to have in times like these. Also, I anxiety-ate a package of proscuitto and a whole box of pfeffernusse that I’d just gotten for Thanksgiving dinner. But otherwise, things were fine.
In response to our hijacked Friday the kids were mercifully good. When the chokey voice came with Shaniqua, and I hung up the phone, Mica came over to me.
“You want this, Mama?” handing me whatever sticky treasure he could find in his pocket and then, “I’ll get you a monkey, Mama.”
“No, Mica,” chokey voice, “Mama just needs to hold you for a minute. That was scary for Mama.”
Reid’s and Cabot’s antennae went up across the room. They walked around the counter island to find me sitting on the floor, Mica straddling my lap hugging me. They knelt and hugged us both. “It’s okay, Mama!”
And in the end, it was.
(For the record, this is my excuse for not posting anything on Friday, and I’m sticking to it.)