“Something is going to happen to him today.”
The thought flashed through my mind so quickly that I let out a tiny gasp.
I was pulling out of the before-care parking lot, he was walking with his teacher toward the bus stop, we locked eyes as I waved to him, and ZAP- there it was.
“Something is going to happen to him today.”
In a moment of panic I thought about scooping him up, putting him back into the car and bringing him to work with me. Then I realized how absolutely insane that call would be- “My son won’t be in today because I had a weird feeling”- and I reluctantly continued driving.
I pulled onto the highway and listened to my daughter belt out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a few times; I asked her for her famous renditions of The Wheels on the Bus and 5 Little Ducks to keep myself occupied…but I couldn’t shake it.
Something wasn’t right.
And then, right in the middle of “The Mommies on the Bus go SHH SHH SHH” there it was- the school’s phone number on my cell phone.
So I SHH SHH SHH’ed my one-woman show in the backseat and braced myself.
“This is the school nurse. Vince had an accident as he was getting on the bus. He has a gash on his eyelid, it’s bleeding a lot…”
Damnit! I should have listened to the ZAP moment!
“I’m on my way; it might take me about an hour to get there, I have to turn around in rush hour traffic…”
“What’s wrong with my Vincie? Don’t bring me to school, he needs me! I want to go to the hospital!!!!!”
Should have listened to the ZAP…
Three hours, one ER visit, and a few repetitions of “Mommy, there was blood everywhere! And all my friends were like OOOOHHHH!” later, Vince (with both eyes intact) was happily settling into Grandma’s lap and I was on my way to work for the second time this morning.
So now that I had calmly handled everything and made sure everyone was settled, I had a 45-minute car-ride to relive the whole thing in full-on Mommy panic mode.
He had been lucky that he hadn’t fallen into that bus window latch any harder, or at a slightly different angle, or the gash on his eyelid could have been a gash on his eyeball.
He had been lucky…again.
How many times had we gone through this? These near-misses? How many times had I had the ZAP moment?
Well, let’s see.
There was that afternoon in November of 2013…Vince was napping off a daycare bug in his crib; I was folding laundry and watching Lincoln. Somewhere in the middle of the movie I felt it- the urge to get upstairs to him RIGHT NOW. I ran to his nursery, freaking out just enough to be willing to wake a sleeping baby- and I could feel the heat pouring off his tiny body before I even touched him.
That was the beginning of the 6-day, 106-degree mystery fever, 2-hospital tour.
Then there was that night in May of 2014…he was playing in the backyard, happy as a clam (from what I hear they’re pretty happy), and I felt that unmistakable piercing feeling in my gut.
“Take his temperature.”
That was the beginning of the 5-month, nighttime-only fever.
We saw 13 specialists. We visited the blood lab so many times that he, at 21 months old, would just stroll in, get in the seat, and put his arm out for the techs. We heard so many possible diagnoses that I wanted to vomit every time the doctor called.
I remember one afternoon in particular when I was sitting at my desk and felt the zap.
“They’re going to say it might be cancer.”
On cue, my phone rang. It was the pediatrician.
“Cathy, I’ve consulted with 2 pediatric oncologists…”
Then of course there was later that day when “If I Die Young” came on the radio and I almost had to pull the car over because I was sobbing so heavily. That wasn’t a zap moment- it was more of an “I’m going to lose my goddamn mind” moment.
Good news- fever disappeared, I didn’t lose my mind, and we’ve somehow made it to today (and so did both his eyes).
But these moments, they are always right on target.
I sit up in bed in the middle of the night, seconds before he randomly vomits.
I run into his bedroom seconds before he flips off the bed.
I throw my hand out to pull him back when we’re in a store, seconds before someone comes flying around a corner with a shopping cart that would have knocked him to the ground.
No one told me that this whole parenting gig came with psychic abilities! And why are they only creepy, sad, foreboding ones? Why can’t I zap lottery numbers?
Why did parenthood make me the Knower of All The Bad That Is About To Happen?
Why don’t I ever sit bolt upright at 3am and think, “He’s about to have a really great dream,” or stop in the middle of a meeting and declare, “He’s going to finally like broccoli tonight!!!!”
Why don’t I ever get a ZAP moment that sings, “In 20 years he’ll be a veterinarian and pay off your mooooortgaaaaaaage…..”
Ugh, it’s such a heavy load to carry around. This is why I keep so much chocolate in my desk.
So basically, whoever said that “your child is just a piece of your heart walking around outside your body” wasn’t 100% right.
Your child walks around with sizable chunks of every part of you, and they’re all apparently connected to you by some invisible string that tugs on your subconscious and yells, “DANGER!” every time something is about to go sideways.
Who signed up for that?!
I most certainly did not.
But I did sign up for the big, sticky, lemon scone-flavored kiss I got when I dropped him off by Grandma.
I signed up for the picture he drew for me while he was waiting in the nurse’s office.
I signed up for the uncontrollable giggles he dissolved into when I said, “Geez, Vince, if you wanted a day off you could have just asked- you didn’t have to throw yourself into a window. Dramatic much?”
I signed up for the way my heart jumps a little bit every night when I walk through the door and he comes careening through the house like a puppy to greet me.
So I guess you take the good with the bad, thank Whoever is up there for all the near-misses, and, in my case, come to terms with the fact that, like his mother, my child has very little coordination and I should be prepared for many, many more phone calls from the school nurse.
And now if you’ll excuse me….chocolate.