Saturday, November 11, 2023

Wolf, goat, cabbage

Last night, Andrew informed me that he made appointments for us to get the most recent COVID booster today. And thank goodness for that!

At the beginning of the month we were going over our calendar and I was explaining all the appointments we had in November. I was going to take the kids to the doctor in sets of two (because our clinic only allows two children per appointment): Rachel & Zoë, then Benjamin & Alexander, and finally Miriam & Phoebe.

"Oh, and I need to schedule appointments for our flu and COVID shots," Andrew said. 

"Dad schedules your appointment for you?" the kids laughed.

"Hey, it's all about mental load," I said. "I can only do so much. By the time I've made appointments for all of you, I've about maxed out on my ability to make appointments."

"So, yes, I usually make appointments for Mom to get her vaccinations. I take care of her because she is busy taking care of all of you."

To be fair, I made dental appointments for all of us (including myself and Andrew) last month. I took three of the kids. And then he took three of the kids. And we still have to make optometrist appointment for me and Miriam (and probably soon Alexander because he came quite close to failing his eye exam in the doctor's office...but we're going to wait until next year to see if it's getting worse because neither Andrew or I needed glasses as a young child and it's not interfering with his school work and because his eyes are only 30/100 individually but when he reads the chart with both eyes he can read the 20/100 line; anyway, it's just something we're watching at this point...we're not rushing off to the optometrist yet, though I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up with glasses eventually). 

Anyway, there's a fair bit of mental load that we have to balance when it comes to making all these many appointments for all the many humans in our household. Deciding which people should go to appointments and when is half the problem. Which combination of people would be best in which time slot?

Clearly Phoebe needs me to go to the dentist with her. And then I need to take a big kid—Rachel!—so that she can sit with the little kids while I'm in the chair. And then another kid who is easy-going since Phoebe can be quite a handful...Alex!

Andrew can take Miriam, Benjamin, and Zoë to the dentist. 

That worked well enough. Except for Phoebe, who screamed the whole entire time no matter who was holding her.

At the doctor we kind of ended up going in calendar order, but it also made logical sense based on the pairings. Rachel and Zoë's birthdays are first in the year. They're both girls. Miriam is available to babysit the younger kids (if needed, though this particular day Andrew was home). 

Benjamin and Alexander were next. They're both boys (our doctors always seem a little edgy about having mixed gender sibling pairings in the room during an exam, even though I find exams tend to be quite modest...and my children aren't shy about running around the house naked if they forget a towel in the shower or whatever...but no matter). Both Miriam and Rachel are around to watch the little ones (and in this case, that was necessary because Andrew was at a conference). 

And then it'll be Miriam and Phoebe, our last birthdays of the year. Rachel will be available to babysit (but I think Andrew should be home?) and...yeah. It takes a fair amount of mental gymnastics to work out all these pairings (which also depend on the day of the week or time of the appointment that we're offered). 

Anyway...last night Andrew told me that he'd made appointments for us to get our flu and COVID shots, but that he couldn't make appointments for the entire family because the system would only allow him to make four appointments at a time, and there was only one slot available the next day. 

(Apparently our doctor's office hasn't been able to get COVID vaccines this most recent go-round. So we have to go do it at the pharmacy for all of us, which was kind of a bummer to find out because that means we have to make that many more appointments.) 

"So who all did you make appointments for?" I asked. 

"Me, you, Rachel and Miriam."

"Excuse me?"

"Me, you, Rachel, and Miriam."

"All four of us?"


"Like, every person in our house over the age of 13..."


"And...and...what are we going to do with our four little kids while all the big people are off getting vaccinated?"

"'s late...and I forgot to consider the wolf, goat, and cabbage problem our family presents..."

"Uh-huh. It''s fine. We'll work it out in the morning. I'll text your dad or something, see if he can come over. Or we can just take the kids with us and have them stand around. It'll be fine."

The pharmacy is inside Target. It's not like it's a kid-free zone or anything. It's just that chaos tends to increase exponentially as we add children into the mix of any given outing.

We ended up asking Grandpa to come over, but he's suffering from vertigo today, so we just left him with the low-maintenance kids (Benjamin, Alexander, and Zoë) and took Phoebe with us. 

And it was fine. 

And then as we all started feeling sore and sluggish, Andrew remembered the second failing of his half-thought-out plan: all the capable people in the house would feel poorly at the same time!

So we'll probably do things differently next time.

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