By Jan Chait | March 4, 2008 10:44 am
While watching one of the cable news channels the other day, I saw what appeared to be a familiar site. Was it? Could it be? Yes! Laredo, Texas! Although it’s amazing that I recognized it, since my memory of that place focuses more on an episode of hypoglycemia than on the landscape.
At the time, my friend Nancy was living in San Antonio and I was visiting with my then-four-year-old granddaughter. Nancy’s children were four and seven at the time. For some reason, we got the bright idea that we should take two four-year-olds and a seven-year-old to Mexico. Not too far into Mexico, mind you: Just across the Rio Grande river. We’d stay in Laredo and walk across the bridge to shop in Nuevo Laredo.
Fearful of thieves, we took just enough cash for emergencies and one credit card each to use for purchases.
Did you know the markets in Mexico don’t take credit cards? Not, at least, the ones we hit. Neither did the stores in Laredo. Thank goodness the hotel we were spending the night in did.
At any rate, we gathered up the children and walked over to Mexico, where we moseyed around the markets, gathering up what we could with our limited resources. I recall six liters of vanilla (vanilla is cheap in Mexico), a whip for Joe, and a major scene when my granddaughter had a meltdown while I was buying a doll for her.
Have you ever seen a young child who is overly tired just totally lose it? That’s what my Cali did, going limp and breaking into inconsolable sobs.
It appeared that it was time to sit down, rest, and have a bite to eat. With a four-year-old on my hip and three liters of vanilla in my hand, we set off to find a restaurant.
The children didn’t want to eat Mexican food and, when my food arrived and I tasted it, neither did I. Unfortunately, I’d already taken insulin. I choked down enough to hold me (I thought), and we worked our way back across the river to the hotel and our room…where we realized my blood glucose wasn’t quite up to snuff.
Now came the dilemma: Who stayed with the children—the adult in full control of her faculties, or the adult with the brainpower of a slug? And who went in search of food? (See previous choices.)
I believe the reasoning was that if I went in search of food, I could eat something immediately. Sounded good to me. After all, I was starving! And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounded really good.
The bar/restaurant downstairs did not have PB&J sandwiches. I stood at the bar, about where the soda nozzles were and in reach of containers of orange slices, maraschino cherries, pineapple slices, and other drink accompaniments, insisting that only a (nonexistent) PB&J sandwich would do.
As I was making a scene, the hotel manager came over. Luckily, he was taking an emergency medical technician class, realized what was happening, and almost literally poured some sugar down my throat.
At least it got my brain cells to function enough to order up some grilled cheese for the children. On the way back to the room, I stopped at the vending machines and shoved money in until I ran out of cash.
All I recall about what I finally had that passed for dinner that night was that the children were so hungry, they even ate the crusts of their sandwiches. Therefore, my meal did not include grilled cheese. It was probably something like Cheetos and Reese’s Cups.
Why didn’t I get something for myself while I was at the bar/restaurant? Well, there was the thing about them not having PB&J sandwiches, but I think that it was also the basic instinct that you take care of the children first. I think it kicks in even if it would be best for the children if you took care of yourself first. Brains are funny sometimes—even when you don’t have much of one.
Come the morning, Nancy and I counted our cash. I don’t recall how much we had between us, but it was less than $10. And we laughed about having so little money despite our combined family incomes.
Then we packed up our clothing, vanilla, dolls, and whip, gathered up the young’uns, and piled into Nancy’s van to go in search of a restaurant that took credit cards so we could feed the children. And ourselves, of course. And, most especially, me.
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