In science fiction/fantasy stories, when the heroine has pissed off the gods or broken the ancient talisman of her people, she can go on a quest to redeem her honor. Sure, she may have to crop her hair and dress like a boy to defeat the Hun army…but in the end, it’s worth it.
She returns with the seal of the emperor and is held up as an example of once-in-a-lifetime courage and fortitude. At the very least, she is welcomed back home with cries of “Huzzah” or a marriage proposal.
At what point does our heroine realize that she is in an epic battle for her existence?* Maybe to her it just seemed like a lot of bad luck rolled up on her at once?
I ask this question, in truth, because I think I missed a giant clue along the way.
Or I’ve defiled a temple somewhere and the gods are angry.
I’m not entirely sure when it happened.
But I think it started with the toilet.
For months, I have been ignoring the slowly unscrewing bolt on the left side of the toilet seat. This was probably a mistake. When the toilet seat finally does break off, it definitely is. But I’m too busy triage-ing all our other problems so all I can do is carefully slip the seat rings back over the nuts and hope it holds in place in times of need.
[Sidebar: I will, of course, repeatedly forget this is a problem and nearly land on my fanny until it is fixed.]
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Where was I?
Oh right, my life is about to go down the drain.
I can’t rightly imagine that the (to-date) thirteen snow days are entirely on account of my bad luck. Or that they preceded a mid-winter break of a day-and-a-half off school.
No. That’s not on me.
But everything else…?
It really started with the lice.
We get the call on the Tuesday before Valentine’s Day. It’s a snow day. As if that weren’t bad enough.
“We have lice. You better get checked!” The voice says.
We did and we do.
For the next few weeks, I’m to wage a frantic battle on two fronts: cleaning the house and keeping the kid from reinfecting everything–including me.
Because, joy of joys, you can treat someone with over-the-counter products, but, honestly, the only true way to be certain you’ve killed every little bastard dead, is to comb through the hair and remove them manually.
I have to get my hair professionally done, but there’s no way my kid is going to sit still for two hours to be rotisserie broiled with a high-end blow dryer.
It’s up to me to tackle the teenage plague carrier.
Forcing your autistic child to go through daily nit-combing treatments has to be a definition of hell somewhere. It’s mine, anyway.
The eggs began to hatch February 15. I would have thrown a baby shower but I had my hands full at the time.**
3,000 lice nits later…
Friday, my kid goes to school for the half-day and I am deliberately not checking to find out what their actual policy is regarding Nits versus No-Nits. (Don’t ask, don’t tell is my motto.) I need these three hours to try and clean crap up. I deserve this break.
Those hours go by like that *snaps fingers*
I hear the bus drive up.
I run to the door and am just opening it when I see my child hobbling his way off the bus. (I am wearing sloppy cleaning-the-house clothes, my hair is bound up with a huge scarf and rubber shower cap, and I’m wearing slippers; I race out to meet him halfway.)
“He slipped on the ice running to the bus!” The substitute bus driver yells before driving off, leaving me to navigate my clumsy giant over the ice on our sidewalks.
He limps into the house.
I roll down his socks, I briefly examine his ankles, comparing and contrasting. I see nothing. Roll the socks back up, I toss him a few Ibuprofen to be safe, and get back to cleaning. He lies down and doesn’t move for hours. It’s not exactly the break I asked for…but I’ll take it.
The next twenty-four hours are spent dashing to the basement laundry, vacuuming the furniture, making sure the kid hasn’t died on me–he’s unnervingly quiet–and nit picking the two of us.
Saturday night rolls around and I’m exhausted from doing the lice protocol and decide to give the kid a bath since we skipped the night before. That’s when I roll down his socks all the way…and see his foot has swollen and turned various shades of very-not-good colors.
…and we’re off to the med center…or to try to find one open.
He gets his foot X-rayed.
“Nothing’s broken, but keep him off his foot and give him Ibuprofen every 8-hours as needed.”
We get back home…it’s nearly midnight.
The kid collapses onto his freshly washed sheet and blanket and goes to sleep.
I finally get to use the bathroom…only to have the toilet seat slide off as I sit down.
After recovering my dignity, I decide to call it a day.
But, I decide to clean up the kitchen sink before going to bed.
I shake an imaginary fist at a cold, uncaring universe!
“I will do one thing right if it kills me!”
I get the dishes in the dishwasher.
I grab the last item–the empty can of mushrooms left over from the pizza I’d treated my child to. Peeling the label off–I slice my index finger bad enough that I leave a trail of blood in the sink while I’m trying to bandage it. A vivid red scar swirls against the porcelain white bowl. It probably is a portent of some kind, but my finger hurts too much to decode it.
With a whimper…I crawl into bed to cry myself to sleep.
That was last Saturday and while things have improved marginally, today I got my hair chopped off and, tomorrow, I’m going on a quest. I’m not sure whether I’ll be cross-dressing to achieve my goals, but I’m willing to try anything.
I apparently have a curse that needs removing or a stone ancestor to appease, something I need to accomplish before I can expect my life to turn itself around.***
If you see any talking dragons, send them my way!
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*Hint: it helps when the talking dragon shows up to point out the error of your ways.
**You’ll forgive me if your “It’s a Nit!” invitation got lost in the mail.
***Fixing the toilet seat might be a start.