Wednesday nights. Not exactly a time where Christi and I are lamenting how bored we are and how much we need something to fill our time. Basketball practice for two boys, piano lessons for two of the kids and youth night for Parker, Taylor, Cali and Graci (not all of which are at the church!) leaves us feeling very much like chauffeurs. This particular Wednesday was also the night before science projects for Graci and Taylor were due. So I consulted Christi before I bought the tickets and asked if she could arrange for a babysitter. She was intrigued and said she'd figure it out. Our perfect, mini-miracle of a Wednesday night started on Sunday afternoon. After church, one of our youth leaders approached me and asked "What are you doing on Wednesday evening?" "Actually," I replied, "we're looking for a babysitter. We've got a date planned, but with our older kids going to their activities, we're wondering who might be able to stay with the littles." "Great!" she said. "The 16 and 17 year old girls were hoping that for their activity they could come and play with your kids! We'll babysit for you." Wow! Tender mercy number one for Wednesday night.
Yesterday came and we were getting ready to go. Graci was going to have to make dinner for the littles before she went to her activity. Christi gets a phone call from a friend. "Can I bring dinner over?" Christi was quite surprised and asked if this lady knew we were going out on a date. "No, I just had some extra dinner and thought maybe you guys could use it." Tender mercy number two. Graci was very pleased.
We left about 4:30 and headed about 10 minutes up the road to the TRAX park-and-ride station. (TRAX is the local transit train system.) We took a 45-minute train ride up to Salt Lake. We walked a few blocks to the City Creek mall and had dinner at The Blue Lemon. The weather was crisp, but not freezing. It was seriously a perfect night. After dinner we spent 45 minutes on temple square. I spoke a bit of Chinese with some sister missionaries there and they were delighted to learn about our family. We enjoyed several minutes listening to the church orchestra practicing at the tabernacle.
We arrived at the arena 30 minutes early. (I think this was part of the magic of the evening. Normally I run late for pretty much everything. It's a terrible habit, and has caused just a bit of strife in our relationship over the years. But last night I planned the timing extremely well and the entire evening was wonderfully relaxed. Christi loved it!) On our way in we found a stand selling delicious gelato and figured we owed it to my brother Steven on his mission in Italy to indulge:) Fantastic choice!
The concert started. It was full of lights, smoke, fire, snow, electric guitars, electric violins and amazing voices. We heard several heavy metal Christmas carols and the one song of theirs that we knew well and really loved. And then came the funniest tender mercy of all. Both of us were able to look at each other and realize that, at just under half-way through the show, we were satisfied. We both thought we would prefer to get home earlier and watch a Star Trek. So we got up and left! It would have been easy to think, "We spent a fair amount of money on these tickets. We should stay for the whole thing." But I went back to my basic Econ class in college and remembered the difference between sunk costs and marginal costs and we made the best decision.
Somehow riding TRAX to and from our destination made it so even the travel time was an adventure. We met a cute little family on the ride home with a 5-year-old boy who was blown away by my "strings attached to my lips" trick. We met a student from the business college in SLC. And we had a great time just being together. It was a perfect night!
Then we woke up and it was today. Just 24 hours later. And what a difference a day makes! I'll start out with the end. In between sentences here at 10:18 pm I'm going over to the stove and stirring the split pea soup that Christi thought she started early enough to be our dinner. We just can't get the peas to soften up. I don't know if it's the batch of peas or the new pot we're using or if we got the recipe wrong or if it's the new gas cooktop. Regardless, the 5-6 hours it's been cooking has started to weigh heavily on our souls. (Don't worry--the corn dogs around 9pm meant the kids didn't have to go to bed hungry.)
The day started out OK. I took work off to go with Xander on a field trip. Christi went to the eye doctor with Sophi. While I was in the planetarium and Christi was getting her vision tested, Bret, our builder, texted wondering why we weren't home for the appointment he and two contractors had with us. Miscommunication I guess. I gave him the garage code and he started work. So Christi came home to a house full of guys she hadn't been expecting. Always a fun treat!
After school, Jesi had a friend over, Cali had a piano lesson, Taylor was sick and missed basketball practice, Parker stayed at school for practice, Sophi went to a friend's house, I had to run to the store to get an onion for the soup, Christi started driving away to take Jesi's friend home then turned around as she realized she couldn't take Jesi on the trip or Jess would be late for swimming lessons, at the last second I realized Sophi still wasn't back from her friend's house and would therefore miss swimming lessons entirely, Taylor was still working on his science project, now one day late.... You get the idea.
In the midst of the craziness I got a call. From the rec center. About the swimming lessons. Sophi, Lexi, Jess and Xander are in a very low-key class with two other kids we don't know. It lasts for 30 minutes twice a week for three weeks. They have taken the same class in the past and, due to Lexi and Sophi's disabilities the staff have invited Christi or me to get in the pool with the girls. Tuesday was the first class of this session and I brought the kids and was in the water with Sophi. In the past, we have received the nicest comments from other parents about our amazing and special kids. Tears have been shed as people have watched Sophi adapt. But this time, according to the lady calling me from the rec center, a parent had complained. "Why was there a parent in the pool with the kids?" (So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at Sophi and answer that question!) And there are dozens of other adults in this public pool swimming with dozens of kids. It's not like I was the only adult in the water. The rec center lady started to tell me that our kids would not be able to be in the class...and I lost it.
OK. Over the years I have really learned a lot of lessons in patience. Thanks to my sweet wife and her calming influence, I have learned much in the way of keeping my calm in dire circumstances. But I don't think I've ever experienced what I experienced at that moment. I felt like something exploded inside of me. The proverbial mother bear took over. I started shaking. I spoke with an intensity I've never felt before. I told her there was no WAY she was going to take my kids out of this class. That I was going to call my attorney and file a discrimination lawsuit (remind me to get an attorney:), that my kids had as much right as any other kids to be in that class. The adrenaline pumping through me was like a tidal wave I couldn't stop.
After about six minutes of this (interspersed with her trying to help me see that there might be some other viable options) I said, "You know what? This isn't me. I don't respond to things like this. I need to let you go, calm myself down and call you back in about 10 minutes." She readily agreed to this plan! In retrospect, I think part of the problem was the timing. She was calling me less than an hour before the start of this MUCH-anticipated swimming event and telling me that my kids weren't welcome. I felt very blindsided. Plus, swimming is one of very few athletic activities that Lexi and Sophi can do with their peers.
I was able to calm myself down. I called back and apologized. We had a civil discussion and are going to meet tomorrow to figure out the best scenario for our kids. I'm not sure how I feel about this even being something that needs to be discussed, but I've cooled down now and believe I can look at things with an open mind.
The moral of the story: If you have a perfect day...enjoy it! Who knows when another one will come along:)