Saturday, August 23, 2008


Evan is a boy who I baby-sit, and my primary beef with him is that he doesn't play correctly.

For example: last time I took him to the Children's Museum, he refused to play with the bubbles, instruments, and craft supplies, and instead planted himself at the rather dull sandbox near the entrance. So the following morning, I took him to the Meijer Gardens and charged straight towards the giant sand play area, complete with construction scoopers that you sit on and man with handles.

But Evan didn't want to play with sand. Evan wanted to push his stroller up and down the same sidewalk, mowing over an occasional rare flower.

"Evan, do you want to go play with the sailboats and water?"

"No, I want-a push my stroller."

"Do you want to go back to the sand-box?"

"No, I want-a push my stroller."

"Do you want to go climb in the big FUN treehouse?!?!"

"No! I WANT-a push my STROLLER!"

Sometimes Evan doesn't listen, which is a common enough issue at two years. Sometimes he kicks, which drives his mother mad. But what really gets under my skin is the fact that Evan plays however he wants to play. Not with bubbles, craft supplies, big sandboxes or the big FUN treehouse. He does what he wants to when he wants to.

I hardly ever play exactly like I want to when I want to. Even when it wouldn't really matter... I still feel the weight of what I should do, even how I should play. I should watch the movie that we rented instead of watching 8 reruns of Friends. I should read my book instead of People magazine. I should play cards with Pete instead of suggesting that we jump in the pool afterhours. Sometimes I need to get very quiet to even determine what it is that I really want to do, what will actually relax and recharge me.

I want-a push my STROLLER!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Whites in 143

This is my new least favorite thing: watching an old man cry while his wife screams in pain as she's lifted onto a stretcher with a broken hip.

Mr. and Mrs. White (who are approximately 200 years old) moved into our hotel for a 90 night stay. It wasn't more than two minutes after they checked in that they called the front desk with their first request. Could we remove the french doors separating the bedroom and living room? They're just in the way.

It wasn't more than ten minutes after they checked in that Mr. White came to the front with (what he deemed) a Very Big Problem. His key to the room wasn't working. "Well, that's an easy-to-fix problem!" I said, cheerily, as I reauthorized the key card. "You may have put it near a cell phone, which deactivates the card."

"Well, the card is in my pocket with my cell phone," Mr. White said.

"Yup, that'll do it!" Forced patience.

"Well, where will I keep my cell phone now?" He asked.

"You can put it anywhere or in any pocket that isn't with your room key," I suggested.

"I'm going to put them in the same pocket. I don't believe you." Now he was teasing me. I smiled.

Two mornings later I got a phone call from 143, it was Mr. White, and he asked me to call an ambulence. I called 911 on my cell as I rounded the corner to the room. Through the french-doorless entryway was Mrs. White, lying crookedly on the ground. "You have something under the bed, and I tripped on it," she said.

"Vivian," said Mr. White, "You tripped on the bed legs. Every bed has legs."

"Well," she said gently, without even a hint of accusation, "They must stick out more than most. I tripped and fell across the room, and now I can't move." The back of her hand was laid in a Scarlett-O'Hare fashion across her forehead.

Mr. White was pacing, so I suggested that he wait for the ambulance near the south-east entrance where I had directed them. I called the houseman to wait by the front door, just in case. And then I sat with Mrs. White.

"Are you starting to feel a little more pain?" I asked, and she nodded.

"Would you like me to pray with you?"

"Oh, would you dear? Thank you."

I took Vivian White's soft hand in mine, and prayed a slow, short prayer. When I finished, about 7 men were piling in the room with a stretcher, and Mr. White was right behind them. I left as they started lifting her and as she started crying out. As they rolled her out of the room, she reached for my hand and patted it with her other. "Thank you, dear. You're a sweetheart."

Mr. White was trying to get the door closed behind him, but a walker was in the way. "I'll make sure the door is closed, Mr White," I told him. He nodded, and walked out to his wife as fast as I've ever seen a 200 year old man walk.