Sunday, May 1, 2011


I think we should just call the pediatrician and make an appointment for every day at 4:30 until we leave. Friday night’s chaos involved Eli with an oozing superbug infection on his leg, 9 kids and three adults at the spring fling, and a slumber party with two extra kids.

For much of this year Manuel and I, along with Ms. Meyer, have been driving kids to school events who would otherwise not get to go. These are kids whose parents don’t have cars, work long hours, etc. If I were of a different socioeconomic class and/or with a different kind of partner, those kids would be my kids. I depend on my husband and my friends having the time, money, and willingness to cart my kids around. So, despite the irony of someone who can’t drive organizing driving, it makes sense.

But this week I had decided that it might be time to just assume that if we could keep our own three children in one piece we were doing well. Rebecca, however, had other ideas and came home with phone numbers and little notes from two friends at school whose “mommy’s can’t bring them and really really want to go…” Just as we were about ready to leave the house Manuel took a look at Eli’s leg and jumped into action. (Thankfully, he knows what these things look like) and had me call the pediatrician. That meant that when we got to a neighborhood with a bunch of kids whom we know playing outside, all of whom wanted to come to the spring fling, I had the nurse on the cell phone and a bunch of kids jumping up and down about spring fling. So Manuel stayed with our spawn while I gatheredp some kids and got permission from an adult in charge to drive them; exchanged pleasantries, admired babies, etc… Spring fling was shockingly uneventful, and the kids were remarkably well behaved and followed our rules, which involved periodically checking in with one of the three of the adults present. (Ok our middle child was not well behaved but he has never made it through a large event without a meltdown. This is community service; the other parents can feel glad it’s not theirs. He was especially pathetic weeping at the pizza table because they were out of plain) We finally got everyone home at about 9:00, including two extra children whom we had promised could have a slumber party here. Efficient parents that we are, all were asleep by 11:30.

The kids were, of course awake at 6:30 and involved in some fantasy game that involved hundreds of Playmobile guys who every so often needed a head change. Do they really need to make those guys so easy to decapitate? By some miracle Manuel actually managed to get all three kids out to the soccer game. Both players had announced, in various charming not quite age appropriate ways, that they were not going. (Yup another tantrum from thing 2) Despite the fact that I couldn’t care less about peewee soccer and think my kids have little future in this, I delivered a moving lecture on “commitments to the team etc.” and maintained a straight face. While they were gone the most important China prep task was accomplished. My computer is now China-ready. The culmination of the 24 hours of chaos was Eli, on Saturday evening, deciding to taste baking soda. It’s true that baking soda is harmless but it’s never a good sign when your kid announces that his tongue was going to fall off and was burning.

Another interesting thing about leaving for three months is that absolutely every thing one can possibly do is requested in the last days. Let’s just say that in addition to a rockin twinkle twinkle in Eli’s preschool class and a command lecture in Italian on “Music in Italy” to people who turned out not to really speak Italian anyway, UVa is getting their money out of me. But I woke up on Friday morning to this email from my friend Grace. That’s what friends are for—to crack you up.

Dear Dr. Gordon,
I was thinking about getting Italian marble in my new bathroom. I would like to request that you come and speak to the marble for me. I know the marble will feel better about joining our household if someone explains this to it in its own language. Perhaps, as I hear you are an accomplished musician, you could play some Italian versions of twinkle for it too?


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