Then Emma’s Lunch Caught Fire

I have to admit that I brought it on myself.

Last week was the one week of the summer when I had no childcare arrangements so was attempting to find that elusive work/life balance in the most insane way of all – by doing everything at once (and doing nothing well).  By Wednesday I began to seriously worry that the situation would deteriorate quickly to Lord of the Flies conditions and by the time the ship came to rescue us, someone’s head would be on a stake.  At one point I even paid my eight year old to play with my six year old, which ended in tears when  Noah blasted this at his big sister:

“You have four soccer trophies, Emma. Four.  You should really be much better at soccer than this. You’re boring.”


There was a fight with a friend. A stressful client. An evening meeting.  The night ended with bad reality TV, McDonald’s fries and lots of tears.  And that is why I boldly posted this on Facebook first thing Thursday:

“Why hello day that has to suck less than yesterday simply because it is impossible not to. So glad you’re here.”

What was I thinking???

Thursday was highlighted by a heart-wrenching decision to take a break from that friend, four unscheduled phone calls (with the kids playing Wii in the background), and the start of a heat wave.  Just as I was saying goodbye to that friend, guests came over for dinner.  A welcome reprieve.  Surely the tide was turning…

Surely I was wrong.  You don’t give the universe the finger and not get slammed for it.

Friday…oh Friday.  More work chaos, more trying to stay focused on moving forward, more attempts at balancing client and kids even though the kids could not go outside into the 100+ temps, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel because Emma and I were heading to a Girl Scout camp out.  The horrible week was about to end.  I could finally relax for the weekend, getting caught up on work and rest.

I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and the phone rang.  Metro train delays.  Noah had to go along to the camp out and my husband would pick him up.

No problem.  I’ve got this.

I pulled at the rubber band to remove my work ponytail and instead it got caught. Nothing would get the stupid thing to release.  Not a problem!  It’s Friday night!  I was moments away from freedom from the awful week! I grabbed my super amazing office scissors, opened them up to use one side like a knife, slid the pointy end under between the band and the hair and as the band snapped I..

Sliced my finger open like an overripe banana.

I do not like knives.  I do not like knives to the point that I cut veggies with cheap 15 year old steak knives that were never that sharp to begin with and refuse to cut raw meat. Period.  Also?  Not a fan of blood.  The scissors flew, I grabbed my finger with my other hand, and I made it to the bathroom before I fell to the floor crying and trying not to pass out.

At 8:00 that night when we finally were eating dinner, my six year old lovingly made sounds that were a cross between lamaze breaths and a dying animal and indicated to my husband that that was what mom sounded like.

My daughter was supposed to be on her way to a camp out, my husband was on his way to a camp out, and I couldn’t look at my finger, seeing only the blood between the fingers of my right hand while I squeezed to stop the stinging.  Emma calmly called my husband’s cell telling him to come straight home instead then fumbled for a few minutes trying to open a heap of band aids that I quickly wrapped around my finger while running it under cold water and screaming.  By this point my son had abandoned me for Phineas and Ferb.

God, I am sorry about the comment on Facebook.  I get it.  I really get it.

Somehow Emma ended up at a camp out happily throwing cheese curls at a shower capped eight year old coated in shaving cream, and after looking at my finger, my husband helped me decide that a stack of tightly wrapped band aids would save me a trip to the ER.  I curled up in a sniffly ball on my bed, ready to just be done.  And then the weatherman interrupted the Olympic trials to tell us to take cover now.  Move to a basement or interior room and prepare because we would lose power.

I heard “tornadoes,” “hurricane force winds,” and “extreme danger.”  I learned a new word – derecho.

My daughter was in a tent.  MY DAUGHTER WAS IN A TENT.

What happened next needs its own blog post, but the gist of the story is that no one (but mebelieved that the storm was a.) coming for us (rolling, endless thunder is apparently less indicative of a storm than it used to be) or b.) going to be as strong as Doug at NBC and Topper at CBS promised.  Hail hit the house. The power went out. I carried my forty-five pounds awake a hundred pounds asleep son downstairs to safety. And I sat in an utter panic while someone drove my eight year old home on dark streets with no seatbelt, dodging downed limbs and runaway trampolines.

I told the week that it could not get worse.  And the week told me back that I knew not what I was saying.  And it yelled it.

By Saturday we were all safe, my finger throbbed less with my daughter sleeping in my arms, and the lack of power was less of an issue by the light of day, 100 degree temperatures or not.  But by today it became clear that we had to leave.  The power company announced that power would likely not be restored until Friday or Saturday, the children’s camp was cancelled, and no one wanted another week like the last one only this time with no Wii, television, AC or, oh yeah, food and water.  I drove around until I found a gas station with both power and gas, very barely avoided a fist fight, packed up my kids, and we headed north to power, WiFi, and grandparents who could play with my kids.

We stopped about an hour into the trip to enjoy some cold milk, cooked food, and AC, but after about a half hour, we wondered why our food had not arrived.  That is when the waiter came over and told us that he was sorry, Emma’s chicken had fallen into the fire while being grilled and could not be saved.


Onward.  Four hours later we pulled into my parents’ driveway and within minutes I had my computer set up in their dining room, ready to get caught up on work.  The first message I received was from a neighbor letting me know that just moments before, our power had come back on.  We could come home now.

 I would say it couldn’t get worse. But as I’ve now learned, I could be very, very wrong.

Written by: Amy Lupold Bair

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