My husband Jeff is awesome with the kids and I have to admit, usually when I’m not there to hyper manage their life they have come away every time with all their limbs attached. Actually, I think they all have a collective pact amongst themselves, “What happens with Dad, stays with Dad.” In the end, I usually find out anyway, even though a year or five may pass.
Case in point: Two weeks ago Jeff took our two eleven-year-olds and their eight year old cousin on a three day camp out deep into the remote parts of the Umatilla Forest in Eastern, Oregon. Last year a flash flood washed them out in June (no hiding THAT natural disaster from mom) so they decided to wait and go a month later this summer. They made their way over to the northern corner of the state and for 24 hours I didn’t hear anything. No news is good news. Right? But then, in the middle of a lovely lunch with my mom and cousin my cell phone rang. Jeff was reporting in.
I excused myself to answer the phone and on the other end Jeff asked, “Are some types of garter snakes poisonous?”
“I mean, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a rattlesnake, but…”
“Sam got bit by a snake but the boys can’t say for sure what type. Now Sam has this strange waffle patterned red rash all over his back.”
“They didn’t notice whether or not it had rattles on its tail?”
“It’s Noah, Sam, and Tre. They don’t pay attention to details,” Jeff answered.
“But it was a snake!”
After a few seconds of back and forth…okay…hold on…it was my one-sided conversation…I told him to get the hell to the nearest urgent care.
For the next several hours I anxiously waited for a phone call from the east side of the state. Finally, after saying good-bye to my cousin Mary Ann, dropping my mom off at her place, and coming home to a deliciously quiet house I got a phone call from Jeff at Urgent Care.
Jeff’s calm voice soothed my worried mom soul. “Sam’s fine. The boys are all sitting around a computer right now trying to identify the snake that bit him. Sam says it was yellow, Noah said it was orange, and Tre said it was brown.”
“Or course,” I replied. (These are the same boys who when I ask if they could grab a can of corn from the pantry they’ll walk in to it and stand at attention like they are guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and with blank stares look right at the corn and then return to me a minute later and tell me they can’t find it.) Then I added, “Kind of a wide spectrum of colors for a snake that was only 12 inches away from their eyeballs.”
“Yeah…anyway,” Jeff quickly responded, because he’s just as guilty as his sons of this pantry myopia and he knows it. He quickly changed the subject, “Anyway…the staff here has never seen anything like this waffle patterned rash he has across his back. They thought since its so hot here it could be heat rash. They’ve given him Benedryl but it isn’t going away. We’re going back to the camp and I’ll keep an eye on it.”
What could I do but say, “Sounds good.”
Move along to the following morning. While communing with the song birds on our back patio while sipping my Tazo green tea and defining peacefulness in my soul I got another phone call from Jeff. He wanted me to know Sam was fine. He went on to say they were just cleaning up from breakfast but then in the middle of his sentence he yelled, “I don’t believe it!”
Once again my heart was on its way to skipping a beat but I think my eyes rolled first, “WHAT? WHAT NOW?”
“The rash! I just figured out how he got it.”
“Sam’s standing next to the checked table cloth without his shirt on and his rash matches the waffle pattern of the table cloth!”
Yep, that strange rash that urgent care in Pendleton had never seen before, with perfect “waffle” pattern squares, well it was a gingham pattern that in the heat of the dry eastern Oregon weather ran onto Sam’s skin when he leaned against it with his shirt off yesterday during lunch. (I’m guessing there wasn’t a woman working in urgent care that afternoon. She’d recognize gingham right away.)
No rattlesnake. No rash.
This about tops the time Jeff thought Zak was bleeding internally because he was throwing up bright red but instead Zak had eaten over 100 Red Vines on Jeff’s watch.
Or the time when Sam thought he was dying because his poop and the toilet water was “bloody” after a day of fishing with the men of the family. After ‘fessing up to eating an unlimited amount of red licorice, Cheetos, orange soda, and Cheez Whiz on Cheez-Its I was able to calmed Sam’s worries after I went into the pantry and grabbed a handful of leftover fire hot Cheetos and threw them into the toilet. They floated next to his real poop and within a few seconds you couldn’t distinguish between the two bobbing masses. Gotta love Orange Dye #9.
And so goes my life. A life I share with an amazing man who knows what it takes to be a build-memories-with-my-kids DAD, because OF the snake bite, waffle patterned rash, red licorice vomit, and Cheez-it orange poop moments.