Adventures in Senior-Sitting: When Spring Break Goes Bad

I’m not sure what traumatized me into never wanting kids. Maybe it was realizing that kids equaled zero fun time. Or, that you had to be responsible for them forever. Or maybe it was something my grandma said: “your kids will be 3 times as bad as you.” No thanks. I was a nightmare, so bad that I didn’t even start liking myself until I was 30. I don’t need “younger me” amplified. So I opted out of having kids. Karma, however, found me and opted me in like every e-newsletter I never signed up for.

As most of you know, I inherited a teenager in the form of my 66-year-old father-in-law and it’s been a real barrel of laughs. One after school special after the next.

About a month ago, my FIL was sick but like most kids that have plans for spring break, he wasn’t about to suffer from FOMO. So off he went to Daytona Bike Week, coughing and wheezing his way there. Upon settling in his camp spot, he realized that, uh oh, the cable box in his motorhome wasn’t working. You see, the cable company didn’t shut off his box in his RV when he cancelled his subscription prior to moving in with us. They ended up fixing the glitch and it worked itself out on day 1 of his vacation.

Well, you know kids and their screens. He was so desperate for television he tried to get a box added to MY account (which I actually consider payback for the time I added my own land line to my parents account without permission). When the cable company declined, he called my husband and asked him to MAIL HIM THE BOX FROM HIS BEDROOM. We did not.

He managed to survive his lack of Matlock reruns however, when he arrived home there was something else that he was suffering from.

Yes. He came home with the VID.

And so began the great sickness of 2021. He was coughing non-stop and had zero energy, but he was pushing through. Now, if you asked every friend that he miraculously found the energy to call while he was being quarantined, he was on his death bed. Each night was sure to be his last. He couldn’t lift his head without going comatose from exhaustion. He could only breathe once an hour.

And eating? Forget it. If it wasn’t KFC he couldn’t keep it down, which I don’t remember reading on the CDC website so I suppose they’re due for an update. At one point I had my husband ask him if he needed anything from the grocery store. Grapes and orange juice was his request. Did my husband ask my FIL or my 3-year-old niece because that’s totally something she’d want as a snack.

A week into his illness, things took a turn in a matter of 2 phone calls. That morning my husband checked in on him and informed me my FIL was feeling a little better. Less than an hour later, my husband received a call from one of his dad’s friends. Apparently, he was about to die and another friend was on the way to our house to take him to the hospital, which didn’t make sense to me because I work from home so why wouldn’t he ask me?

So I call my FIL to find out what the deal is and was pretty surprised by how terrible he sounded. What also surprised me was that he actually did not have a friend coming to take him to the hospital. He ended up asking me if I would take him but I suggested calling an ambulance which he agreed to.

A few minutes later I could hear sirens so I went outside to flag them down. Outside I could no longer hear the sirens but I could hear something else: “I guess they missed our house, hee hee.” I turned around and there stood my FIL, giggling. “What the fuck are you doing out here?!” I yelled. I’ve just told 911 that my FIL is on the outs and here he is practically dancing in his driveway.

I. Was. Mortified.

As soon as the paramedics got out of the ambulance I began telling them MY side of the story: he tricked me. They check him out and nothing. Nothing is wrong with him. Are you sure? I asked them. There’s nothing in that ambulance that you can shove down his throat?

No.

The paramedics loaded back into the ambulance and by the time I turned around to ask my FIL “what the fuck was that?!” he was already back inside. That was the last I heard from him for about a week. I didn’t check on him because I didn’t have to. Our neighbor kept me in the know. She also informed me that, according to my FIL, he in fact was dying that day and had the paramedics not given him oxygen for the 3 minutes that they did, it would’ve been over.

This story of almost seeing the light has made its rounds and every time I hear it he was nearer and nearer death. Not long after standing at the pearly gates, he recovered.

BTW, it isn’t lost on me that I once put my mom through a similar situation. When I was in 6th grade I experienced a level of embarrassment I’d never felt before after I tripped over a pipe in front of about 30 kids (out of a class of almost 500). 30 may as well have been everyone. I couldn’t take it. So I faked being sick for about a week and a half before my mom finally took me to the doctor where I was outed as a fraud and had to go back to school.

The moral of the story is I was terrible well into my 20s and my comparisons to my FIL are only up to 11-year-old me so I’ve got a lot more of this shit to go.

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