It was happening! It was actually happening! I was showered, my hair was fixed, and I had makeup on. The kids were all strapped in their seats and we had 20 minutes to go a mile and a half to Sophia’s 11-year-old well visit. We were going to be on time and everyone was happy, except Sophia who was nervous. The stars were in line. No more cancelling and rescheduling like I had been doing since October when she actually turned 11. It was going to happen today!
I hopped into the car feeling Grrrrrrreat! I turned the key to start the engine and nothing. Nothing! Sophia looked at me and said, “not again mom”! I couldn’t believe it, the car was dead AGAIN! I know I can be dramatic but I am NOT exaggerating when I say my car has died at least 10 times in the past 3 months. Yes, I took it to a mechanic and he said my battery was fine. I told him we had been going through a bad spell of leaving a light on or a door left wide open overnight. He said “that’ll do it”. It took one good fit growing and exclaiming that all the lights in the car were “mine, mine, mine” and no one was to touch them under any circumstance. The light problem was fixed but for whatever reason people around our house don’t shut doors unless it is 6 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday and then they do it repetitively.
Rick has jumped me a couple times, so has my dad. I’ve also called 3 different neighbors who have come over, and squeeeeeeezed into the garage with me for a jump. Two of them have come twice. After climbing up and down out of the hood of my SUV to attach leads, I then have to crawl through the passenger side, over the console and slip into my seat, since there is no room between the two cars for me to get into the driver door like a normal person does. Rick and I have learned that connecting the leads isn’t enough. The person jumping me has to sit in their car and rev the engine for several minutes before my car will even begin to flicker signs of life. I find it terribly embarrassing to tell my neighbors that they have to rev their engine. They will get in their car and just pump it a little bit. I have to shake my head and yell through the closed window “no you gotta rev it”. “I mean really let her have it for a few minutes”. It’s just very awkward. I can’t explain it any more. My kids start getting scared, especially Sophia who is my worrier. I send them inside because I can see and smell fumes and assume that carbon monoxide is present as well despite it being a colorless and odorless killer. My engine finally turns over. I disconnect from my neighbor and help him back out of the tight garage. I thanked him for his time and tell him I hope it doesn’t have to happen again. I think about writing, “thank you note to Mr. Persinger” on my To Do list but know it probably won’t get done. So I run back outside and wave a little harder as he backs down my driveway. “Hopefully that will suffice”, I say to myself.
I back my car out of the garage and into the driveway to idle so I can get some fresh air. I find my phone and call my daughter’s doctor to tell them we are going to be the about 10 minutes late. “Can we still come?”, I ask. They tell me her doctor has no more available appointments today but they would be happy to help me reschedule. I tell them that they have been happy every time I have had to reschedule but the feeling was not mutually shared despite it not being their fault- this time! I asked them if I could at least come by and get her flu shot. They said they were sorry about that as well, but they did not give flu shots past 4 o’clock. As you could imagine I was experiencing some irritation, and even more than usual considering I was clean, dressed, and hair and makeup were done for absolutely no reason at all. I had even packed activities to entertain the two younger kids so they didn’t have to fight or dig around in my purse for entertainment.
I ran into the house and yelled for the kids. “Come on, we have to go charge the battery”! My kids unfortunately know what this means. We all have to get in the car and run it up and down the interstate for about 20 minutes, at least 50 miles per hour. My dad who is a dentist, not a mechanic, told me this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m used to doing what he tells me and I know he wouldn’t come back up and jump me if it died again if I answered “NO” to the following question: “Did ya run ‘er up and down the road like I’ve told you?” We were almost done with our 20 minutes of worthless backtracking on the interstate when my children finally quit arguing over which video they were going to watch and who got to choose the video the last time we had to charge the car battery. While the car seemed to be doing fine, my internal temperature gauge had tipped toward “H” as we pulled into the car garage. I hunted down the mechanic who had told me my battery was “just fine” and nicely told him that I would like to trade batteries with the one in his car since my was so “fine”. I scheduled the transplant for the next morning as well as fluids. I told them I wasn’t interested in a lecture tomorrow about the importance of regular oil changes. I am aware and sensitive about the subject so please write that down on my ticket.
Unlike all of Sophia’s others appointments that had been scheduled for after school, I took their first available ,which was the next day at 8:45 AM. It was a plus that the other two didn’t have to go with us but a negative having to listen to Sophia worry about missing school and having makeup work.
The receptionist at the window gave Sophia and me both a packet of papers to fill out. This was unusual I though to myself? In addition to general information, we both had to fill out questionnaires that were identical. Sophia of course said, “this is ridiculous” and “so annoying”. When we got back to the exam room and Sophia and I had run out of things to talk about, I started to look over her questionnaire. I probably wasn’t supposed to but no one told me not to. The first thing that I read that I found humorous was her response to the question, “Do you visit a dentist twice a year?” She circled “yes” and wrote “probably weekly”. You see, her uncle and Pawpaw, both who live in town, are dentists. She also circled “Sometimes” to the question “Do you eat fast food more than 1 time per week?” For my benefit I told her she might want to write that we often choose Subway. We all know that deli meat preservatives are better than deep-frying. I was then surprised to see that she had circled “NO” to the following question. “Do you have someone in your life who talks to you about sex?” I questioningly said, “I answer any questions you ever have?” “I know that Mom, Mimi talks to me too, but I wouldn’t want someone else knowing that I talk about that disgusting stuff!” I went on to explain to her that there are some little girls that don’t have people in their lives that will talk to them about important things like that. I told her that if she marked “NO” then they would probably talk to her about sex. She jumped up and started yelling “mark it Mom, mark it!” I knew she was anxious about being here when her blood pressure was slightly elevated as well as her pulse. She began, “this is ridiculous, why are we even here? I am SOOOOO healthy Mom, just look at me. I think I’m going to die. Right here Mom. I’m serious, right here, right now I’m going to die. Let’s just leave!” When she realized we weren’t leaving she sat down and quietly said, “I wish I could just stay a little girl”. “Sophia, you are going to be fine. I know you are healthy.” I said encouragingly. They are going to check you out really quick and you need a flu shot. Also, I need your official height and weight measurements so I can put it on your growth chart. You see I’ve failed miserably at keeping up with your baby book I want to at least make sure you have a growth chart that is accurate. “I know you don’t understand this now, but you will”.
Despite having an emotional breakdown and crying midway through the visit, Sophia had rallied and was doing fine until the doctor told her she was old enough to begin her Gardasil injections as well as two other vaccinations that were due. This totaled 4 shots for a little girl who had been freaked out knowing she was getting one. “Its going to hurt mom. It’s going to be terrible, I know I’m going to die. Lets just leave. Please, Mom?!” I was also a little freaked out that my daughter was going to be getting a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. This was my baby. My little girl. What was happening?
I couldn’t help but remember her well visit several years ago. She was perfectly happy running around, playing in the room in her panties. Completely comfortable with who she was. She was happy and care free. I remembered looking down to see that she had her Thursday panties on and it was in deed Thursday. I asked her if she always chose the correct day of the week when she was getting dress and she said “yes, except sometimes I wear my Friday panties on Mondays”. “It just makes me feel better” and kept smiling and jumping around.
It’s hard when that little child you’ve always known starts changing. They start getting a little moody and emotional, and kind of self-centered. This is especially hard for me with Sophia. She has always been such a gentle, caring, loving, and happy child. I try to remember how hard it was growing up so I can be patient. How awkward and insecure I felt at times. I remember not understanding myself and why I felt the way I did. I felt sad and angry at the same time but didn’t know why. She is still her happy and kind self most of the time, I just hate to see her struggle like I can so easily remember doing. I wish she already knew all that I have figured out, but I know it doesn’t work that way.
You see, Sophia and I go way back. It seems like a lot longer than 11 years ago. She was just a baby but she kind of saved me. During what was the hardest time in my life to date, her dependency on me made me feel needed and important. She always wanted me, more than anyone else and holding her warm body reminded me that I was alive. She helped me get through until I found value and worth in myself again outside of her need for me. She is such a beautiful spirited child.
She came home in second grade one time and asked me if I “ever get t hat ‘choke-y’ feeling in your throat like you need to cry because you know God is asking you to do something but you are afraid”? I told her I knew exactly what she meant. She went on to tell me that there was a little girl, Kelly, in her class who didn’t really have many friends and she cried a lot. “It was my turn today to take the attendance list to the office. We are allowed to pick someone to go with us. I knew I was supposed to pick Kelly but I didn’t because I was afraid of what people would think of me.” She said, “Mommy, I want to pick her the next time it is my turn. Will you pray for me?” I did, but I also slipped in my gratefulness that she was mine.
Several weeks later she came home elated, telling me about a trip to the office with Kelly. She told me it felt so good to make her happy. I could go on and on with beautiful little stories like that about my sweet little girl but won’t. I know you haven’t had your turn for me to listen and smile and be thankful that your children too have someone who thinks they are the greatest.
As much as I hate seeing her grow up and watching her struggle through it, I’m so excited to see what she will be like as a woman. A woman who doesn’t only hear the Spirit of God, but wants to respond and knows the blessing she will receive from being faithful. A woman who also knows that she can ask for strength, from the same One asking, for help to fulfill the task.