One thing I have learned as a mother is that we all will do anything to make our children’s lives better, even if it means it may involve taking a ride on the “crazy train”. Don’t pretend you don’t know about the crazy train – we all ride it now and then. I took one particular long ride on the crazy train the year my son broke his arm.
When my son was three he broke his arm and we bought him a fish. It was a cheering up gift. He named it Franklin. Franklin was a hit. He was small and orange. My son would press his chubby cheeks up against the bowl and watch with wide blinking eyes right against the glass (probably freakish-looking eyes to Franklin once the bowl distorted their size). Franklin would swim in circles and my son would give me the play-by-play. “Mama, Franklin’s swimmin’ down!” “Mama, Franklin’s swimmin’ up!” Ha! Amazing!
One day soon after Franklin’s arrival to our home, I found him belly-up in his bowl. Panic set in. The minutes were ticking until I needed to pick my son up from preschool. The whistle of the crazy train called from a distance. I rushed to the pet store and bought another fish. He was big and orange. Yes, I admit it, I replaced Franklin. And guess what? My son never even noticed.
And then it happened again. I found Franklin belly up. I could hear the crazy train chugging down the track, coming for me. I went to the pet store again in a panic. This time the new Franklin was small and orange again.
It happened again. Choo choo. Now Franklin was bigger, orange, and even had a white spot.
Again and again, the ruse went on, undetected by my son. The train was moving and I was on it.
The last time it happened, my son was home. “Something’s wrong with Franklin!” I heard him scream. Oh no, I thought to myself, not while he’s home!! Panic set in again. The whistle of the crazy train blew. I called my husband at work.
Sidebar – I have been a full-time working mom and a part time working mom, with only one very short stint when I did not work at all as I was home with my new baby daughter. This happened during my non-working stint. I’m not sure my husband appreciated being interrupted during his work day as he was the sole provider and we needed that pay check, but nonetheless, I interrupted him. You bet I did. Choo choo.
The call to my husband went something like this, “You have to come home. It’s an emergency.” Click.
My husband’s truck came flying in the driveway minutes later. There I stood with a baby on my hip and my three-year old holding a zip lock bag full of water with a dead floating Franklin #4 or 5 -I can’t remember – in it. His jaw dropped. I knew what he was thinking: I came home for this?
“Daddy, something’s wrong with Franklin,” Thomas’s sad face said as his chubby fist held up the bag with the orange floater.
I said something along the lines of: “We’re so glad you’re here, honey, I told the kids you could take us all to the fish hospital!” My husband’s face was priceless. I gave him a wink as we buckled the kids into their car seats. I’m not sure he appreciated the situation, still, but he joined us in the car nonetheless as he was on the crazy train now too.
I blared a kids’ sing along cd – the kind the kids loved and the parents wanted to smash with a sledgehammer. It would distract the kids from hearing the plan. From the front seat, I whispered to my husband the devised plan. He was to drop me at the door of the pet shop and I would rush in with Franklin so as to get him “the most urgent care”. This is what we would tell Thomas. Then daddy would park and unbuckle the kids (that could take a good ten minutes easily) and make their way into the “fish hospital”. This would give me time to make the switch. Choo choo.
And so it went, we came squealing up to the pet store/ aka “fish hospital” on two wheels and I rushed the lifeless fish inside. “Run, mommy, run,” I heard as I took off into the pet store.
Inside, I ran to the desk. The same kind lady who had seen me rush in and out all those times before to replace the fish saw me and immediately went for her net to scoop me out another one.
I explained to her that I needed this fish in our zip lock bag – after we dumped Franklin #5 or was it #6– and I needed her to tell my son that she was indeed a “fish doctor” and that she had indeed revived “Franklin”… that is if she didn’t mind. Choo choo.
Maybe the woman was afraid of me in all my craziness, maybe she was just that kind, or maybe she had ridden the crazy train herself once or twice…but for whatever reason she went ahead with my crazy plan and my sweet three year old with a cast got Franklin back. Again.
On the way home my husband laughed at me and asked me how long I planned on continuing this crazy, desperate fiasco of a situation. Would Thomas be on the way to college with Franklin #763 someday? My response was that I would eventually let Franklin die, just not while my poor sweet three year old was still in a cast.
And so when the cast was finally shed and physical therapy complete, the crazy train sat still at the station while we allowed Franklin #8 or was it #9 to finally pass. My son dug a hole in the yard and put a rock on his grave and we said a few kind words and thanked him for being a part of our life.
Here's to the mothers who have ridden the crazy train! Happy Mother's Day!