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Late night phone calls only bring bad news — every parent knows that.

But recently, we seem to have broken that particular curse in our family. The phone rang in the wee hours of the morning…a long distance ring. Whoever it was on the other end was a brave person. I have a checkered history with telemarketers — especially those who dare call during a meal or after bedtime. Such intruders are likely to hear a barrage of bad language — unbecoming for someone my age and size, but it is what it is. I don’t take kindly to eager telemarketers generally, but bothering me when I’m eating or trying to sleep is tantamount to a declaration of war. But calling in the middle of the night? It’s a person with a death wish or someone telling me bad news — a child has been maimed, killed, or arrested. Not good.

I grabbed the phone, bracing myself for the worst. Strangely enough, it was one of my children…Crazy D to be precise. I imagined the worst. He’s off in Japan on a film shoot. They are looking in the snowy mountains for an elusive blind salamander. It’s four feet long  and, I’m guessing, endangered and likely in a bad mood. How could something living in cold, snow-covered mountains and blind NOT be endangered or cranky? I anticipated that he (Crazy D, not the salamander) had a bad case of frostbite and was being air-lifted to a Tokyo hospital. Or they’d actually fallen off the side of a mountain (he comes close every time he goes for his marathon bike rides) and been buried by an avalanche. Or he’d been poisoned by eating bad sushi (combined with too much beer) in a bar of ill repute. These film crews (and I acknowledge his avid participation in the antics), while in many ways a Band of Brothers, could never be accused of being a band of angels…

But, no. Surprise, surprise! Crazy D was calling me to tell me that they were filming some snow monkeys and that, if I checked out the monkey webcam, I’d see him. The monkeys were incredible –beautiful, adorable fuzzy creatures. Oh, Crazy D looked good too.

It hit me then how fortunate I am to have kids who do such interesting things…Gill with her writing and escapades in London; Crazy D with his animal adventures and exciting film shoots, L’il Sis with her unique fashion designs, artistic talents and loving patience to look after rescue dogs like The Pig. They do wondrous, chilling, mind-boggling things so I don’t have to. Yes, I’m living vicariously through them. And it’s worth every penny. Saves me a pile on Safari fees and acupuncture sessions required by my aching back after long plane trips. Plus, I dislike sushi.

It seems that Crazy D also phoned Gill in London to alert her to his exploits. At least it was 6 a.m. there. One of the things I enjoy most about my kids is that they share their adventures with the rest of the family. It saves us from dull dinners. I imagine most families sitting around the table might have a dialogue like this: “What did you do today?”

“Nothin’…”

“Go anywhere interesting?”

“Nope…”

“Plans for tomorrow?”

“Same as today.”

“Oh.”

Not us! “So, Crazy D, are you doing anything special this week?”

“Heading off to Whitehorse in a few days. I had a chance to go to L.A. again but I decided Whitehorse would be better.”

“Wow! You just got back from Rwanda and Japan. Your luggage is going to get jet lag. Oops…you DO remember that I made that dentist appointment for you on Wednesday? The one that I already cancelled and re-booked twice.”

“Damn! Totally forgot…would you mind changing it again, Mom?”

How to answer? Taking a deep breath, I proposed an idea: “Do you suppose your official ‘fixer’ would be interested in freelancing to ‘fix’ your private life? I’m tired and not getting paid for this. While she’s at it, maybe she could fix mine too. And now that I think of it, Gill could also use some assistance.”

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