The Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

…that ended with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies

I often talk to my kids about plan B. No, not emergency contraception… yet anyway. I am a pediatrician after all, so they will definitely be hearing about that later (and if you would like more info on it now, here’s a great resource). When plans go awry, we have to adapt and be flexible and make a plan B. Or plan C. Or plan D. With 26 letters in our alphabet, there’s hope that something will pan out. But kids are rigid and they like routine. They naturally don’t like plan B, so I use teachable moments to remind them that it’s okay to go with plan B and that the sun will still rise the next dawn. A lesson on developing resilience.

This day had a lot of teachable moments for plan B. In fact, everyone in my family encountered a plan B on this day. It all started with my mother-in-law, who is staying with us temporarily, fell out of bed. See, she already has chronically bad knees, compounded by a horrible accident a few years ago, and now weakened by a vomiting viral illness. The GI bug symptoms had calmed down, but then she fell this morning as I was getting ready to leave the house with my 4 year old daughter.

My mother-in-law denied pain or loss of consciousness before/during/after the fall, but I had to get up again. Using my children’s gymnastic mats, I created an incline for her to gradually elevate herself off the ground until she was able to stand up. This process took some time because she needed to rest as she scooted upward. Then I suggested that she use the restroom before I left so that she could just stay in bed while I went out for a couple hours. Well, that took about 30 minutes.

At this point, my 4 year old would have missed half of the 3 hours she attended preschool in the morning, and I was not going to make my own doctor’s appointment. The 4 year old was very upset, and shed a few tears, because this was her favorite day – show and tell! – and she had already prepared her favorite book to “read” to her friends. I managed to convince her that the teacher would let her do show and tell the next day. We set her plan B and the world was not going to end after all. When she gets older, and as my 7 year old has already started doing, I expect that she will come up with her own plan B when her original plan is thwarted by some life circumstance.

As for my own plans, I canceled my doctor’s appointment. There were no availabilities left on any of the days the rest of the week, but I already had a follow up appointment early the next week. My plan B was to just skip this appointment – as my health seemed to be headed in the right direction – and to just go to the next scheduled appointment. I’m used to plan Bs as they are the story of my life. And for anyone wondering, I did NOT have a melt down over this.

We tried to make the best out of the rest of the day. I checked up frequently on my mother-in-law. The 4yo and I made chocolate chip cookie (recipe link coming soon), so sometimes part B can be a lot more delicious than our original plans. I used our toaster oven because the stove oven was broken and we were still waiting for the delivery (and trying to bake a turkey with an occasionally working/finicky-door-getting-stuck-oven was lots of fun and required a bit of plan B type brainstorming). The small tray limited how many cookies we could make, so we saved half the dough to make more cookies after dinner so that my 7yo could have also taste them freshly baked.

The day went by quickly. We ate lunch. We read books. We played games. I spied on my mother-in-law while she napped and counted her breathing to make sure she was okay. No headache, no vomiting, and speaking cohesively when she was awake. I texted my husband to see if he could go to the Trader Joe’s after work today instead of the tomorrow. The next day I had to go to work and he could work from home, so I was hoping he could avoid errands and stay home to watch his mom. A slight plan B for him as well, and I was surprised he didn’t throw a tantrum. He often does when I change the plans – as I often do, sometimes forgetting to tell him – but this time the reason for change was beyond my control, so he was very agreeable.

It was soon time to go pick up my 7yo and take her to gymnastics. Usually I pick her up from the car line, but she encountered a few plan Bs as well. Since I didn’t want to leave my mother-in-law at home alone too long after her falling today, I called the school and emailed her teacher to have the 7yo take the bus home. That gave me an extra 20 minutes at home. After getting her from the bus stop, we got ready for gymnastics and piled into my car with the 4yo. Snacks ready to go, books packed for the 4yo and I to read while we watched the 7yo do her cartwheels and flips.

And the car wouldn’t start.

This is a known problem with my car that we are still trying to trouble shoot, but it happens randomly. I last drove it home at 8pm the night before and it was fine. Today, it decided to continue our plan B theme of the day. The 7yo started crying as she really wanted to go to gymnastics and also hates going to make up classes where she won’t know the classmates. Lemons into lemonade with lots of honey. Superb teachable moment. Hugs. Went inside for snacks and let the kids watch TV which they usually don’t get on weekdays. When the 7yo when she calmed down, we had perhaps our twentieth conversation about plan Bs.

The rest of the night went smoothly. I prepared dinner. My husband came home with the groceries. We baked more chocolate chip cookies. My mother-in-law seemed to be okay, no pain anywhere. We all went to sleep in good health in our cozy beds and woke up to a brand new day, with it’s promises of planned errands and of unexpected events.

I also tell my kids that I hope the lessons we have learned can be shared with others. This was not the most ideal day for us, but if you think the lessons we learned can help someone else, please share it on Pinterest, Facebook, or with just one friend through text or email.