It started with my dog, Whistler. Most of my troubles can be traced to him. When my son, Ryan, left the breakfast table to use the restroom, Whistler snagged Ryan’s bagel and gulped it down…didn’t even bother to spread some cream cheese on it first. His sister Paige stood by and watched.
It was negligence on the scale of passive observation to the holocaust. Ryan was ready to haul his twin to the Hague and have her tried in front of an international tribunal.
I was brokering peace accords and grabbing jackets and blocking the refrigerator with a chair (battery’s dead on Whistler’s invisible fence collar, so he’s back to opening the fridge for snacks). I climbed into the car, started the engine, and realized Katie wasn’t in her car seat.
So I’m back in the house on a frantic search mission only to find her huddled in the corner of her closet wearing just her panties and crying. She had “nothing to wear.” Hard to believe that the There’s-nothing-in-my-closet gene on that second X chromosome had switched on already. She’s six!
I offered up five shirts and two pairs of jeans before Katie agreed to get dressed for school. By then we were running late, and Ryan’s wrath had transferred from one sister to the other.
We pulled up to the school. As Ryan exited the car, he slugged Katie’s arm for making everyone late. Katie snarled and took off after her brother, slinging her lunch box at him for hitting her.
It was a fine start to a beautiful autumn day in Washington. The leaves were turning red and falling off the trees. My kids were seeing red and falling out of bed. Megan was at home with a cold. Not the full-on symptoms of swine flu, but piglet flu, perhaps?
Thank goodness I’d spend the day in meetings with mature and professional adults.
I work on a virtual team producing a weekly program for public radio. Reporter assignments are made from Chapel Hill to journalists around the world. Scripts are edited in Boston; the show is tracked by our host in Dallas or Chicago; the program is mixed in Seattle and posted to ftp sites for public radio stations across the country to download.
It’s invigorating to work with a group of amazingly intelligent colleagues, but distance has its difficulties. We try to have in-person meetings at least twice a year to plan our shows and work through production and editorial issues. This time, we were meeting in Seattle.
I was planning to start the meetings with a Powerpoint presentation on our program–financials, web analytics, web marketing results–but my computer caught a virus and was in the intensive care ward of our IS department.
Hotel shuttles delayed team members at the airport the night before. The hotel had placed someone in a first floor handicapped room which wasn’t acceptable to her. They were served fake eggs at the hotel breakfast buffet. WiFi wasn’t working at the hotel or in the office for them.
By the afternoon, I was beginning to feel overlooked by the Nobel committee; bitter that Obama had received the honor.
But no time for self-pity. My phone indicated my nanny was trying to reach me. The kids had set off the car alarm while she had taken one child to the bathroom.
By five ‘o clock, I rushed home to placate my frazzled nanny, hand off the kids to their dad, and then back out the door for dinner with my staff. At the restaurant, our server took copious notes of food orders and special needs. Shell-fish allergies. Mushroom allergies. (Just some types of mushrooms. Fine with the hallucinogenic variety.) Gluten-free meals. Vegan diets. Preferences for free-range poultry and locally grown organic ingredients.
I silently wondered if our server would deliver our dishes with napkin-wrapped EpiPens. I imagined our group in a third world feeding center and wondered if I could get them to eat Unimix. Maybe plumpy nut would be a better choice for this team…
In the course of our conversations, I listened as team members told me about a parent fighting cancer; dealing with the aftermath of a spouse’s death; worries over mothers/sons/daughters/spouses; and their own health issues.
That was Day 1 of our week’s meetings. After dinner, I picked up my kids from their dad’s and headed home to read stories, make lunches, run a load of laundry and clean the cat litter. Whistler met us with the cat litter box door stuck around his head like an Elizabethan collar.
I started to pack lunches, only to discover that Whistler had pushed aside the chair in front of the fridge and helped himself to the roast beef for the kids’ sandwiches.
The Shirelles sang, “Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, Mama said…”
But Plato said it better: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.