“I can’t do it!”
“Yes, you can. Just focus. Put your hands under her and pull, fast!”
She was terrified. I was yelling. The two of us, in a panic, because we knew we there wasn’t much time.
Dory, my eleven-year-old daughter’s hedgehog, was stuck in Abby’s boot.
Don’t ask me why Abby put her in there. Don’t ask me how the hedgehog got wedged in so tightly. Don’t ask me how long a spiny mammal curled up in a ball can go without air whilst stuck in a hot, sweaty suede boot; I don’t know.
What I do know is that it’s at least 7 minutes. After that, I gave up and cut the (new) boot open in order to save little Dory. This, in the middle of my otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon.
And, oh the aftermath. Tears and apologies and hugs and lectures about life lessons learned.
This is my life.
It’s crazy really, when you think about it. Become a parent and you find yourself in the most random, odd and sometimes scary situations.
Once I had to hand off my one-year-old daughter to my seatmate on a plane, so I could run to the bathroom and get sick. Turns out I had the flu. Worst trip ever.
Once when my middle girl was three she climbed to the very top of a McDonald’s play castle and refused to come out (there were boys at the bottom, gasp!). I had to climb up in the castle and get her.
Once in the span of maybe 10 minutes, my youngest daughter slipped outside (no shoes) to chase our runaway puppy. I’d been in the bathroom and when I came out I saw her standing at the backdoor with said puppy and a policeman (again, without her shoes). He happened to be parked at the intersection near our house. All this in 10 minutes; I was mortified.
Become a parent and anything is fair game. One minute you’re reading a book, the next you are trying to pull a hedgehog out of a boot.
But here’s the thing: life with children is so much more than crazy moments. It’s about constant change. Stages and phases and growth and transformation.
Today, my nephew turns four. Four years old! Four years may not seem like a long time, but to him, it’s an entire lifetime. And when I look at my own life, just four years ago, I’m reminded how different it was.
Four years ago, my oldest daughter was 15 and couldn’t drive a car. She’s now a sophomore in college.
Four years ago my middle daughter was an eighth grader, couldn’t drive and had never run a race in her life. She now runs (and drives) daily and holds school records for her running times. She’ll take the SAT Saturday and is looking at colleges.
Four years ago my youngest was in first grade and could barely read. Pink was her favorite color and she refused to learn to ride her bike. This year, she is devouring the Hunger Games series and needs a new bike because she’s worn the old one out (she wouldn’t be caught dead in pink now).
Four years ago, I gave up writing to work for a charity. Since then I’ve become a travel agent, run my own business and have discovered I can’t live without writing. My husband was then celebrating surviving his first year with his business. Now none of us can imagine him working anywhere else, can’t remember life before Summers.
And four years from now? I’ll have one kid in the nest, one in college and one living on her own (hopefully!). One will be in driver’s education (Lord help me) and the other two will be of legal drinking age (again, Lord…).
My nephew will be eight, in the second grade and likely tearing up the streets with a bike all his own.
Four years may not seem like a long time, but it is.
Life is a gift, meant to be savored, day by day, month by month, and calamity by calamity. And as being a parent so teaches us, there’s no need to ever fret because, life won’t always be like it is today.