Today I took Olivia for a routine checkup in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, in order to have a world class pediatric endocrinologist, we have to drive pretty far. Fortunately for me, it isn’t New York City. I like the culture in the city, the museums and ethnic restaurants that I never have time to stop and try. I like the architecture, and I like the avenues of blooming trees and the parks with paths full of friendly people. I have even made peace with driving in the city with all those bewildering one way streets and vehicles parked smack in the right lane and streets of affluence just a minute outside of streets of graffiti-lined poverty.
Still, I always feel like such a country girl. I should have a bumper sticker that says, “I know how to grow potatoes” to counteract my slow driving, craning to see the street signs, with quick glances at my google directions print out.
Pittsburg is arranged at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River, where they become the Ohio. There are a lot of bridges and north sides of rivers and south sides of rivers, east and west, too, because of the way they all join just there. There are all these interstates that cross and mingle and separate at intervals, and one must be really skilled at glancing to the correct spot on the google directions page while simultaneously making snap decisions as to the proper lane, all in heavy traffic.
Today for the first time in my life, I wished for the super-annoying voice of a GPS to direct me. Never mind that I think it makes people drive mindlessly. I could have handled a bit of mindlessness. (Shh. Don’t tell my sister.) I wanted to meet the Brechbills, who are in a hospital across town from the one where we go for appointments. Joe is one of our pastors, and the whole family is dear to us, childhood friends, intermarried with others of our childhood friends, even one sister in law. Joe is scheduled for an operation tomorrow to remove a mass that is pressing on his pituitary gland, causing him to be acutely ill.
I did two passes along the North Side of the river before I located the hospital, where I found Joe in good spirits, excited that he has a Christian doctor who is very accomplished and well known, yet who is humble and prays before every operation. My dear friend, Eileen, was there with her parents, so we got in just a bit of a refreshing chat before we needed to go out to our trusty google directions, cross a different bridge, follow the south side of the river, and eventually zigzag our way to our destination. The entrance to the parking garage was closed for construction, so we had to drive up the street a bit until we found a spot. To be truthful, I felt quite plucky and accomplished as I did my little swiping parallel park. We even made it in time!
Poor Olivia was wearing flip flops that chafed between her toes. As we trotted briskly back to the doctor’s, she had to take them off and go barefooted. That was when I noticed that her feet were completely green on the bottoms from running through our newly mown lawn. And then I remembered that I had told her to wait for her bath until this morning, which I forgot this morning. Maybe I should have had an “I grow potatoes” tee shirt, instead of a bumper sticker. 🙂 Actually, I am quite seriously considering getting an “I have five kids, and they are all happy” shirt. That should take care of snobs who think green feet only happen in Dr. Seuss books.
I digress. My little girl charmed her very kindly doctors. She does at every visit. 🙂 “Mama, he said I am turning into a little woman!” she grinned on the way home.
Speaking of the way home: I concluded that if my brain is supposed to be like spaghetti, everything connected in somewhat bewildering fashion, then at this charming age of five, my daughter’s brain is like Ramen noodles. We had conversation in tight little circles. 🙂 I must confess, at the height of my navigational issues, I said, “You have got to be quiet! I have to think.”
“Oh… Okay. Hey, look at that barge! Why does it do that? Hey, they painted flowers on their door!”
“Mama, we should have a camper in our backyard.” Small pause. “Then if our roof got a leak, we could just run out to the camper.”
Small pause. “Who was the man, David, or somebody? who went to the sky in a chariot?” Me: “That was Elijah, and that is where the song (“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”) comes from.”
“I bet he wrote that song.” Giggles. “No, I guess not.”
And a little later, “Did you go to school with Eva?” (Eva is the neighbor who is about 83.) Definitely Ramen noodles.