Our new au pair has a boyfriend. Even though she has her own private space in our detached, converted garage, we have set the house rule that he cannot stay overnight, lest our home become a den of iniquity. He is only in town every so often, as he is a consultant, but we would prefer not to be his landing pad when he is here. He stays with an uncle. Perforce, Jeanette decided to travel to Atlanta this past weekend to visit him, even though she was under the weather when she left on Friday. We put off her flu shot till this week, once she got over her cold.
Saturday morning, I looked out the window across the yard and noticed the door to her room was hanging open. This I found disconcerting. I called her in Atlanta, and she assured me she had locked it before leaving.
Which is how we ended up with two cops in our backyard, cautiously entering the detached garage with guns drawn.
It turns out that Jeanette had locked it improperly. J has the spare key on his keychain, so he locked it and sheepishly thanked the nice officers for their time. We went about our weekend, and then Monday morning, he left for his usual week of business travel, with the spare key safely tucked onto his keychain.
The smarter among you have probably figured out where this story is going.
Yes, a few hours after J had safely landed in San Francisco, Jeanette arrived home in Los Angeles, dug through her bag, and discovered she did not have her keys. She clearly had not locked the door to her room because she had left the keys inside. Inside the locked room.
You may be wondering why my husband has the only spare key when he travels at least four out of every five business days. What can I say? We just haven’t gotten around to moving the key to my keychain.
It is all OK, because we have a very comfortable couch. For twenty-five bucks, J Fed Exed the key back to us, to arrive Wednesday morning, and our au pair hunkered down for a couple of days couch-surfing.
Whereupon she promptly developed something that resembled the plague. That cold she had taken with her to Atlanta was a lot worse by the time she came back, oddly not ameliorated by the cross-country flight and the weekend canoodling with her boyfriend.
Tuesday morning, it was clear she was in a bad way. Her health was probably not improved by my children awakening her at dawn’s first light. Her eyes were barely open and she was coughing hard. I left to take the boys to school and kept Lilah out till 10:30, hoping that would give Jeanette a chance to sleep it off. When she came on duty at 11:30, she looked like partially digested cottage cheese. I ran out to get Benjamin, admonishing her to wash her hands regularly in very hot water, not touch her eyes, and touch the baby as little as possible.
I also told her to make a doctor’s appointment.
When I returned, I was ever-so-pleased to learn the only appointment she could get was 2:15, when the two little ones are sleeping and I need to pick up Zachary. I sent her off to spread contagion among the people on the bus while I frantically scrambled to find a friend to pick up Zachary while I simultaneously put the two kids down for their naps and called a locksmith.
I also baked a batch of muffins, because I still needed something to pack in the next day’s lunches.
It was rather clear to me that no one’s best interests would be served having her sleeping on the couch for another night. It was time to pay the $75 to get her back into her room. To her credit, Jeanette offered to pay for the locksmith.
The locksmith arrived, only to tell me that this kind of lock is impossible to open without a key and that the only thing he could do for me would be to drill out the lock on our very expensive doors. Thanks but no thanks.
Not long after, Jeanette called to tell me she had been diagnosed with the flu and conjunctivitis.
To recap: I had an au pair who was locked out of her room and sleeping on my couch, breathing flu and smearing conjunctivitis on us all. I had a baby who had not gotten a flu shot due to a suspected egg allergy. I had a husband out of town on business, although that’s pretty much par for the course around here. And I had an apparently impregnable lock on Jeanette’s door.
We dug out some hotel points and booked Jeanette a room for Tuesday night. The last thing Lilah needs is the flu.
I decided that the boys would be getting a little extra television time while I marshaled my forces for the siege ahead. I used a good portion of that time trying to turn off the oven light, which had been on since I removed the muffins from the oven, despite the fact that I had never turned it on.
For dinner, we ate carrots, muffins (Zachary rejected his, as they hadn’t baked as thoroughly as usual), peanut butter and jelly (except Lilah, because we didn’t have the allergy blood test results back yet), and pasta (on my portion, I put butter, olive oil, soy sauce, and parmesan cheese; don’t say a damned thing or I’ll make fun of your comfort food). About three-quarters of the way through dinner, the doctor called to discuss Lilah’s blood test results.
As we talked, I finally figured out why I hadn’t been able to turn off the oven light after baking the muffins. One side of the door wasn’t closing properly. This explained why the muffins hadn’t baked quite right. I opened the oven to try to jiggle it back into place, all the while listening to the doctor and keeping an eye on Lilah to make sure she wasn’t choking to death.
Again, I am going to guess that some of you know where this story is going.
The oven door fell off in my hand. Actually, only half of it fell off, so I kept clutching it to keep the other half from coming off. I stood there, still trying to listen to our doctor, holding the oven door up with one hand. Whereupon Benjamin started talking.
Now, at this point, I probably should have asked the doctor to hold for a second and used both hands to reattach the door. I also probably ought to have the spare key to the back room on my key chain.
I did not ask the doctor to hold on, because I she is a busy woman. She is also a soft-spoken woman, and I have two very loud sons. Who would not shut up. I could not go in the other room because I was still holding the oven door on with my right hand. Every few seconds, I had to interrupt the doctor to admonish my sons to be quiet for a minute. No one will be surprised to learn that I got increasingly less patient as they continued to try to talk to me about whatever dross seems to be of the utmost importance to them, while I was on the phone getting the baby’s blood test results and holding the oven door on with one hand.
Given the frustration she heard in my voice, the doctor may be calling in the next few days to inquire if I am feeling overwhelmed. I will politely direct her to read this blog post.
Lilah, it turns out, is mildly allergic to almonds, peanuts, egg whites, and garlic. The hives that she gets every time I cook? Probably due to the fact that I put garlic in pretty much everything short of chocolate chip cookies.
The oven door was pretty easy to reattach once I had both hands free.
My sons bit one another while I was washing up from dinner.
My au pair is out of commission for a good couple of days, at least.
And, tragically, I cannot drink, because I am still nursing the baby.
Some days are like that, even in Australia.