The Luck Rollercoaster

Talking of Parenting Fails, we’ve had a recent spate of good luck (I won free tickets to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, a pair of return ferry tickets to Orkney, and a free money purse) followed by a run of bad. Only the bad luck is vaguely interesting – want to hear about it?

Unlucky Number 1

The first of the 3 was when The Boss created for the minxes their very own scene from Frozen when he shattered the rear windscreen of the car over them.

Who needs a windscreen anyway..? Image: Frozen cover by electronic pop duo RKVC; from their website.

We were 8 hours into the long journey from outside London to home after a lovely week’s holiday at The Boss’s parents, and still had 200 miles to drive. We stopped at Annandale Water services for a quick legstretch walk around the wee lake and a coffee for me. The Boss strapped the minxes into their car seats then slammed the door shut. I think this must have been when the gas strut that holds the boot door open sheared off, because he then opened the boot to fetch some sweeties, and then shut it with an almighty BANG. The gas strut poked through the windscreen and the glass shattered into thousands of tiny blue squares. Luckily we drive a saloon-style car so it showered over the parcel shelf and not over the 3 traumatised little screamers in the back seat.

It took a looooong time to calm the kids and reassure them that no-one was hurt and everything was fine and that I wasn’t really going to kill their father…

I swear thunderclouds follow us around, just waiting on a wee bit of bad luck for their opportunity to make things 100 times worse with the addition of heavy rain. Remember the last 2 epic walk fails? Sure enough, as I came up for air after calming down, there was a big, black cloud. Down came the rain through the jagged hole in the back of the car. Thankfully, the 3 fleecy cuddle blankets that happened to be in the back seat worked wonders in propping up glass shards and catching the worst of the rain.

What can I say about the rest? We couldn’t get a repair any time soon (Autoglass sucked their teeth when we told them we were in Scotland, then said they reckoned they could get a new windscreen to us in 11 days) and the sympathetic cleaner at the service station helpfully warned us to buy a £14 parking ticket to avoid an automatic massive fine if the car was going to be there longer than 2 hours. Another helpful cleaner helped me source 5 fantastically thick bin-bags to make impromptu repairs. The Boss was kept busy and out of trouble by ferrying minxes to the toilet, packing up all 10,000 loose items in the car cabin and boot, and phoning the Breakdown Recovery helpline that I suddenly remembered we’d gotten free with my last main dealer service – excellent! A pick-up truck turned up after a few hours and towed us to the garage after swapping banter about overly-strong husbands. The minxes perked up at the adventure of strapping their car seats inside the cab of a real, actual tow truck that was loud and rumbly! They also cackled hysterically at the driver’s ring-tone for calls from his wife (general alarms) and text messages (gunshots). They loved that the courtesy car to get us and half our luggage (the important stuff: Maxi’s birthday presents and the kids’ clothes) was teeny: The Boss had to squeeze in the back with Maxi and Midi, and Mini’s big car seat had to go in the front beside me. It was smelly and dirty, the inside windscreen was smeared with something that wouldn’t wipe off (dog drool?), the tires needed a lot of inflating and it leaked ‘stuff’ from under the bonnet, but I didn’t care: I filled it with petrol, filled ourselves with a celebratory and speedy Da Evul McDonalds Fast Food, pointed it north and got us home the same night. Hooray!

We swapped it for our car and the rest of the luggage when another tow-truck arrived at home the next afternoon. Our Mondeo became the local comedy feature for a week until the new windscreen arrived. It wasn’t that it looked like a chariot: it was more the sight of me painstakingly brushing the ground around the car with a dustpan and brush to pick up every last little bit of glass. I’d have been better hoovering the drive like The Boss.

So: bar one emergency journey to the garage for the new gas strut, with our temporary dustsheet/tarpaulin windscreen billowing in the breeze because it was only held together with a ton of string, sellotape and earwax, we were confined to home for the entire second week of the Easter Holidays. The minxes loved that, spending hours every day pedaling around the cul de sac with their fellow little girl cycle-gang members in one big feral pack, terrorising all the adult commuters, so it wasn’t all terrible.

Unlucky Number 2

The 2nd of the 3 bits of rotten luck happened just one day after we got the new windscreen: Midi was mucking about on her bunk bed, slipped, and bashed her front teeth on the bunk barrier. The Boss was up to his elbows in bright purple hair dye and I was in the bath, having my hair painted (well, it’s less messy that way). After stopping the bleeding and crying, Midi starting spitting out little chunks of tooth. I was pretty sure they were baby tooth fragments, but put them in a bit of milk until I was sure. Paracetamol calmed the pain and I couldn’t see any adult tooth damage, so decided to leave the dentist visit to the next morning.

Well, it took an hour of not getting through to the dentist to realise that it was a local NHS holiday. I spoke to a very helpful (!) person on the emergency dentist line. After explaining what had happened and asking if a dentist could check the bits left in her gum, the telephonist recapped:

Her: “So which tooth has fallen out?”

Me: “No. Both her top front teeth have broken into bits”

Her: “Is that front left or front right?”

Me: “Both. Both.

Her, scolding tone: “Well, at 7 it’s completely normal for her teeth to fall out anyway. And because they’ve come clean out…”

Me, interrupting: “They’ve not fallen out; they’re broken. They’re smashed. They’re both in pieces. She has half a tooth left in one bit and a little shard of the other tooth still in her gum”.

Her: “OK… I can make an appointment for you at 2.10. Please be there 5 minutes beforehand”

Me, after a pause: “… And where’s that appointment at?”

Her: (says name of nearest city)

Me: “…Uh, which surgery will that be at?”

Her: (says name of a street)

Me: “Can you give me an address I can look up? I don’t know (city) – I’m new here”

Her: (starts giving me driving directions from “the barrier” of the city’s hospital. I know of at least 3 barriers I can enter by, all about a mile apart. I’m not sure that her request to “look for the green wall” will be helpful to me or not)

Me, sighing: “Can you say the name of the surgery again slowly?”

So: the city is an hour’s drive away and I won’t get back in time to pick up Maxi from school – I’m going to have to take both girls out of school for the afternoon, and Mini will be with us anyway. Oh me, it’s the first day back at school, but the school staff are wonderfully helpful and sympathetic.

We eventually find the dentist, just as the rest of one tooth fell out in Midi’s hands. The dentist asks me whether I want the other tooth extracted or not. I’m not sure I’m qualified to have an opinion or not, y’know… She beckons me over to look in Midi’s more-sharklike-than-usual little mouth. I admit that I’ve happily carried out emergency first-aid on severed fingers and bashed heads, but anything to do with teeth makes me want to boak. She made me look. I nearly barfed.

All ended well when the rest of the teeth fell out a few days later. The Tooth Fairy showed her sense of humour by giving a coin for every tooth-fragment. It still only totalled £1, despite Midi’s hopes of a gold coin for every piece!

Unlucky Number 3

On the way home from the emergency dentist, the 3rd bit of rubbish luck hit us. Literally. We stopped at a busy roundabout and were shunted. I’d had the amazing good fortune to have put the handbrake on, so we didn’t go rocketing into the path of the lorries and cars thundering round the roundabout. Still, the jolt and the huge BANG made my hands shake and the minxes scream in terror. It took me a few attempts to put the hazard lights on (why won’t my hands work? Why are they hitting the radio button? Why are they now hitting power? Why won’t they go to the hazards? What’s wrong with the link between my brain and my hands?!)

I soothed the kids, checked no-one was hurt, got out the car, and walked round to talk to 2 frightened faces in the car behind. I guess I was a bit stern as I barked: “I’ve got 3 hysterical kids in the backseat. I’m going to calm them down. Then I’m going to drive over there (pointing). You are going to follow me and then we are going to sort this out”. I whirled on my heel, did just that, then the Other Driver and me faced each other. She was very, very pregnant. We immediately established that no-one was hurt and that the bumpers were just scuffed. I gave her a huge hug and said, “Och that’s what bumpers are for”. I think the 2 men in her car were a bit startled at big scary purple-headed me giving the woman an unexpected hug, so they leapt out their car and made reassuring noises. One of them started wiping the dust and grime off my bumper with his hoodie sleeve to show me that the scratches weren’t too bad, bless him, and it took me a while to persuade him to stop.

The woman and I swapped details, frightened hands making our scribbled notes look like they were written by axe-murderers, then I walked the adrenaline off for a bit before driving home.

The bumper didn’t fall off and everything was fine. I admit to hibernating for pretty much the following week. Shields up!

Paranoia and Gore

This week is mostly being brought to you by the word ‘paranoia’. Meh!

The past 2 weekends we’ve been camping in East Lothian and having a wonderful time. However, because I write in a paper diary when I’m away from home and blog about outdoor exploits elsewhere, I don’t repeat it all here. However, I’ve been moaning far and wide about the ticks we picked up on a short one-hour walk in some properly enchanting woodland.

embedded tickLike any ex-Lyme disease sufferer, I hate the little buggers. The Boss and I carry out tick checks on us all and carry nifty little tick hooks. We’ve been teaching the minxes about tick safety without going overboard. Well, on 15th June we found this one in the nape of Maxi’s neck. I suspect (hope) the pink marks around it are from initial flicks in case it was a piece of dirt. I took the photo while The Boss fetched the hook, and it was really to document it just in case Maxi gets ill – I can prove she had a tick-bite. Tick removed, I reassured my hysterical little 8 yo that she had the smallest, tiniest, don’t-even-waste-time-thinking-about-it chance of getting ill, but that we’d check for rashes anyway for a few weeks.

Well, she’s not had a rash, but the past 2 days has been complaining of a constant low-grade headache, stomach-ache, and generally feeling a bit ill. Her neck lymph nodes are swollen. She mentioned it this morning and throughout the day. It’s easy to get paranoid, but I need to remember that it’s the end of term, kids are tired, there are lots of viruses doing the rounds (chicken pox is rife right not). If she gets joint aches, a stronger headache, or more flu-y symptoms, then yes, I’ll be thinking that it’s Lyme. But for now, I’ll just fret for a few days until she’s better or she’s seen the GP.

sharkThink that tick was gruesome? Try Midi’s mouth! That second little incisor finally wobbled out on 23rd June. The Tooth Fairy left her 2 very shiny 50p pieces with cool backs that she promptly spent on a sherbet fountain. Tsk…

More paranoia: I get a bit nervous when The Boss is late home from work. The roads he drives certainly have their fair share of people who (think they are) immortal, can see round blind corners, can drive waaaaaaaay past the speed limit ‘safely’, can drive within an inch or so of the bumper of those of us who are merely mortal and drive accordingly… ach, you get the picture. Anyway, the day before yesterday I noticed he was a bit late. Right then, the phone went. The Bat-Fone. The landline that only ever rings for official things. I thought, well, it can’t be too bad or it would be a knock on the front-door from 2 hat-less polis. And yes, The Boss had had an accident.

Don’t panic: no-one was hurt. He’d been tootling along the back road home when a van decided to cross *right* in front of him without looking. The Boss threw out the anchors and figuratively braced for impact (his fingers never left the steering wheel – I think he left indents). Luckily, his little car can barely hit 50mph going downhill and with a tailwind, so he stopped very quickly. Even so, he hit the front of the van, knocking the van’s bumper and numberplate about 10-15m. The airbags didn’t go off, so it wasn’t high-speed at all. When he stopped shaking enough to get out, he found his driver door barely opened.

The van driver’s first words were: “You were coming at some speed!” The Boss charitably thinks he was perhaps attempting sarcastic humour; I cynically suspect him of being in this situation before to have such a practiced and ready line… After exchanging details and retrieving bits of car and failing to get any witnesses (the old man behind the van who saw everything absolutely refused to “get involved” and drove off), The Boss limped home. Shaky. Thankful it hadn’t been any worse. And possibly thinking what confessions he could get out the way that night using his joker card on his very-glad-he’s-still-alive wife 😉

After that, it’s not been a problem, really. The van driver talked to his insurance company and admitted full liability. Yes, it was kinda obvious that it was, but I’m still grateful that we didn’t have any arguments or awkwardness. The Boss decided that rather than deal directly with the other man’s insurance company that he’d talk to his own insurance company (Direct Line). Good move – they’ve been brilliant. Today a nice man in a tow truck arrived to pick up the car and take it away to be fixed. A lovely lady from Enterprise came to drop-off a hire car. Honestly, if felt like she was awarding us a prize or something, it was such a pleasant and trouble-free handover. We’ve no limit on mileage or time, and she’ll come pick it up when we have the car repaired and returned. Fantastic!

In the meantime, I can tease The Boss mercilessly on him having broken more cars than me. And feel very, very thankful that he’s here, fully intact, to be teased and tormented.

Well, actually, he’s not ‘here’: right now he’s off mountain-biking in the Back of Beyond, making sure the stresses of work and the week in general are pedalled away. He always tells me roughly where he’s going (in the hall we have a brilliant OS map centred on the house that our friends gifted us) and we always agree a time that if I’ve not heard from him, I’ll phone for help. Sometimes I’ll follow along with Endomondo, but that usually just increases my paranoia that he’s lying injured by the side of the road, because it frequently ‘sticks’ or loses signal. Meh! Better just to remain un-stalked, I think.