FREDERICTON, N.B. — Sometimes the call in the middle of the night isn’t a prank or wrong number. Sometimes it’s exactly what you fear a call in the middle of the night will be.
That call came just before midnight at our hosts’ house. They have four kids, so the phone doesn’t ring after dark. I lay on a mattress on a floor in the living room. Jilly was breathing evenly beside me; I was holding my breath as quiet words were spoken on the second floor. Footsteps on the stairs. Down, then up. Down again. Melani, who had been in the kitchen, came to the archway and said quietly, “Can I talk to you?”
“Is everything okay?” I said, stupidly. She was backlit, so I couldn’t make out her face, but I’m sure she raised an eyebrow. I followed her into the kitchen, where she told me that our host’s grandfather was critically ill in Toronto. She had to go to him, of course, but she couldn’t get on a plane, last minute, with four children. She could manage the baby, but … Of course we’ll stay, I said. Of course we will.
Now, I don’t regret doing it, because it sure took a load off our hosts, and I really love these children, who are six, four, and two and a half just like Jilly. But, well, I’m not very good with kids, if you must know. They like me well enough. Most of them love me. They also smell weakness, like round-faced sharks smell blood. Without Melani there to wrangle them properly, they would have eaten me alive.
We had planned to spend about 24 hours in Fredericton. We were there for four days. Like I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, you have to stay flexible when you’re roadtripping. There might be bumps in the road, but you’ll discover the most awesome things, like …
We uncovered beautiful little hidden beaches, a darling town centre, splendid architecture and a fantastic science museum. Of couse, we also discovered I’m not the type to handle with grace four kids, four carseats and a minivan. At least now we know.
Life’s a trip, indeed.