Driving my newly turned six year old boy to school in the morning is not a task I have encouraged or welcomed. Why add an extra 10 to 20 minutes to my all ready hectic morning when he could easily hop on a bus and be whisked off to school safely. Lately though I have been more open to doing things a little differently. The freezing cold temperatures and the extra ten minutes to stay snuggled in our nice warm beds seems a fair trade for those extra minutes spent driving him in. That, along with the recent memory of a terrifying event, is why I did not hesitate to drive him to school this morning despite my natural instinct not to.
Just shy of two weeks ago my little guy, still five then, was suddenly struck with a horrible headache. We were on a fantastic Disney Cruise and my little boy was crying in agony. It only got worse from there as hour by hour his symptoms piled up until I found myself surrounded by four doctors with grave faces explaining what I all ready had feared; with limited medical access and being at least 8 hours from land we needed to treat him for the worst case scenario. A severe migraine accompanied by neck pain, high fever, sore throat, swollen glands, and nausea matched six out of the seven signs of meningitis.
So began the scariest night for our family as we helplessly waited, fighting the horrible images in our head, and praying for our little boy to pull through.
He did! As the sun rose so did our spirits upon hearing his fever had broke. An ambulance greeted us as we arrived in St. Thomas and instead of spending the day at the beach, my little boy spent the day in the hospital. But we had a happy ending; he tested negative for meningitis and made a speedy recovery. We were able to continue on our vacation and after enjoying a quiet night in our rooms with room service and movies, our little boy was almost back to normal the next day.
Any parent who has been reminded of a child’s mortality knows the surreal feeling of waiting to find out if your nightmare will continue or end. During those hours I thought of the things I was thankful for; telling him I loved him several times a day, giving him so many hugs and kisses, being home with him, taking him swimming every day in the summer, and despite the chilly temperatures and freezing water I had gone down the Aquaduct (the ship’s famous water slide) with him the day before. He had laughed in delight as I screamed and shivered, running for a towel the second the ride was over. I was so glad I had not put that ride with him off, thinking I would have more time. I also thought of the things I was sorry for; spending way too much time on my phone reading texts and Facebook updates, losing my patience with him too quickly, and not giving him enough uninterrupted time with me.
We will never know what made our little man so sick and why we were so lucky to have him fully recover, but I will try every day to remember the things I was sorry about and make every effort to do better so I do not have those regrets.
This morning, as we neared the school and saw the ominous line of cars reaching around the corner we both groaned in anticipation of the wait ahead. But then something unexpected happened! We actually enjoyed those ten minutes. For ten minutes we had each other only; no cell phone, no chores or errands, and no three year old sister battling for my attention. Just us, talking, spelling his sight words, and counting to 100 by tens. We laughed and I praised him for how well he had learned his words and he smiled, just for me!
When we finally pulled up to the door and he got out I felt full of love and realized I had just created a special moment with that little boy; one I plan on recreating again and again. Today I changed my mind about driving in to school. It is something I look forward to doing and I only hope he will allow me to for as long as I am able.
Finding time in your everyday life to create memorable experiences is a gift not to be taken for granted. Be open to them and they will happen!