Wake Up Call

She is okay now.  She is okay now.  She is okay now.

I have to keep reminding myself of this.  I catch myself taking a lot of deep, cleansing breaths.  My left eye has started to twitch every once in a while.  Nausea comes and goes in waves, and it feels like something is pushing on my chest, forcing all of the air out of my lungs.  My nerves are raw and exposed, but I am eerily calm.  I may or may not look it on the outside, but my head is a mess.

You see, yesterday, for almost one full hour, I believed that my oldest child was dead.

On Saturday morning, just after 3 a.m., Sheepdog and I got the phone call that no parent ever wants to get.  The voice on the other end said that Kid A had been found, unresponsive, in her dorm hallway and she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  She said we should get there as quickly as possible, but could offer no additional information.

We woke Kid B and asked her to sleep in our bed in case the boys got up in the middle of the night, and we assured her that we would call as soon as we had news.  We drove down silently to Grady Memorial in Atlanta.  Sheepdog and I held hands.  Phone calls to the hospital during the cold, long trip resulted in the confirmation that she was there, but they would tell us nothing else.

Nothing at all.

My imagination went to all of the very bad places.  I thought of all of the risky choices I had made in college.  All of the insane, dumb, moronic stuff I had done.  All of the times I sat around with my friends, recounting the bits and pieces from the night before, wondering how we managed to survive the night.  It was crazy.  We were so stupid.  We were so lucky.  How did we get so lucky?  How did we get out, relatively unscathed?

I felt I was getting my answer now.  In my mind I heard a nagging whisper, “Pay up.  Nobody rides for free.”  Was Kid A going to be my price?

Unresponsive.  Unresponsive.  Unresponsive.


We found the emergency department, cleared security, and went straight to the front desk.  We were quickly directed to ambulance triage.  I rounded the corner and saw Kid A sitting up on a gurney.  I went from zero to sixty, or sixty to zero (I’m not quite sure which) in an instant.  Thankfully, my worst-case-scenario had only happened in my head.


I have never hugged someone so vehemently in my life.

The doctor reassured us that she would be fine, and later she was discharged.  We drove her back to school and tucked her in with instructions to sleep and hydrate, even though my first instinct was to bring her back home with us and smother her with love and over-parenting.  But I am learning that I can not protect my kids from all of the things.  Sometimes they need to feel a pinch.

“A hard lesson to learn!  I’m sure it will be something you will work out with her and a good lesson was learned without tragic results,” said my mother-in-law.

“Is the lesson ‘Don’t Have Kids?'” I replied.  “I seem to have learned that one a little too late. They’re likely going to be the death of me.”

“Hopefully the gravity of it will scare her,” is what one sister said.  Hopefully.

And, hopefully, this experience will encourage her make better choices.  I hope that she tells her friends about it, too, and that they realize that none of them are invincible.  I realize the hypocrisy of this advice coming from me, but my job as a parent is to advise and guide my kids to be better than me.  Do better.  Behave better.  Make the world a better place.

Pretty please with sugar on top, because Sheepdog and I don’t think we can take another wake up call like that one, and we still have four more kids to go after this one.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

How Sheepdog Kept His Daughter From Going Topless

We arrived on the beach the other day, with our small tribe of people and accompanying mountain of gear. No sooner had we staked claim to our parcel of sand and started to assemble our little beach village than Kid C announced to me that her bikini top was broken. Seriously broken… the plastic clasp had completely cracked in two, and the sides were not long enough to tie together.

Now with Kid C you never know if it just broke when we got onto the beach or if it was broken when she put it on earlier in the day and she got distracted by some confetti or a blue bird or a car alarm and forgot about it until just now when we can’t really do anything about it, but that issue is actually beside the point. Her top was busted and something needed to be done.

My solution was for Kid D to loan her his rash guard for the day. Unfortunately, his rash guard on this day was white and at least one season old (read: almost transparent even when dry – seriously, I don’t even know why he was wearing it). I immediately thought back to Spring Break 1989 and a particular wet t-shirt contest in Daytona Beach that I may or may not have participated in, and a shiver went through my entire body as I heard my mom saying, “I can’t wait until you have daughters. Payback is gonna be so fun to watch!”

Now Kid C may not technically require a top based upon her cup size, as she is a skinny 10-year-old girl who weighs less than 55 pounds soaking wet, but she is clearly a female and she can not go around all day with nothing covering her top half. We had several cotton shirt and/ or cover-up alternatives between the rest of us, but she is so tiny that even the smallest of them would fit like dresses instead of shirts, and they would not fare well in the surf. She would be uncomfortable and wet all day long (and she would surely not suffer in silence).

But fortunately for Kid C, Sheepdog was with us and he is awesome in these kinds of situations. He examined the broken plastic clasp, estimated the length of the straps, analyzed a few matrices and calculated a square root, all while referring to the Periodic Table of the Elements from memory (I really don’t know what he was doing, but he was a super smart person deep in thought… isn’t that the kind of stuff they do?). Then he reached into a magic bag of Sheepdog tricks and pulled out… TA DA!.. our car keys.

MacGyver has nothing on Sheepdog

In the very little time it took me to erect (heh, heh… I said “erect”) the tent and open a few beach chairs, Sheepdog had repaired Kid C’s bikini top using only a metal key ring. And in doing so he kept his daughter from going topless, at least for one more glorious day.


Wish me luck for tomorrow…

No, He Didn’t

Mornings, "Mother's Day, Run Away" style. I'll never tell what is in my mug.

I also considered calling this post “Payback is a Female Dog,” but enough about animals already.  If you read Friday’s post, you would be aware that I have gone out of town every Mother’s Day weekend for four years now.  My weekend is filled with a whole lot of nothing but reading, sleeping, and pondering the wonderment of life.  I am actually still pondering right now.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I awoke on my own, had a great cup of coffee while watching boats go in and out of the marina, leisurely read the paper (Shout Out!  The Press of Atlantic City), and went to a fantastic Mother’s Day service at the church in which Sheepdog and I were married (Shout Out!  Rev. Ron Watts).  Then I came back and fell asleep on the deck for over an hour.  It was a fantastic day.

After a simple veggie burger and tomato lunch I decided to check in with the real world and read some emails.  Sheepdog always says that he is never quite sure that I will return from one of these trips (and rightfully so), so he is careful not to call me too often, leave too many messages, or generally bug the crap out of me.  See – I told you that Sheepdog is a very smart guy.  Yet on Mother’s Day, in a very uncharacteristic twist, this is the email that Sheepdog sent me.

To: Me
From: Sheepdog
Subject: Mohawk

Happy Mother's Day!

A friend saw the picture and after she stopped laughing hysterically she said that’s either the kind of thing that you find incredibly endearing, or the kind of thing that you will kill your husband over. (Shout out! Payback is a female dog).

Wish me luck for tomorrow (and maybe wish Sheepdog a little luck too)…