It’s the morning of the first day back to school, and the house is quiet. The kids just finished a two-week vacation and I miss sleeping in already. Donn’s traveling again, and my teen class has finished for the year, so it feels as if it’s going to be a dull week. Having put that on the internet to taunt the Fates, perhaps things will change, but that’s my prediction and I’m standing by it.

Last week was anything but boring, with unexpected out-of-town guests for dinner two nights in a row and yet another doctor’s trip to deal with Ilsa’s toe.

Yes, the same toenail that was removed last December was again infected. How could this be? It turned out he had not taken the entire toe nail off, which I would have known had I been able to bring myself to examine it closely, which I couldn’t. Funny—I never used to be squeamish. There’s just something about feet. He removed the top half, and now it was growing it strangely, and oozing pus to boot.

“I’m the unluckiest girl in the world,” moaned Ilsa, who has taken to being moody and whiny lately. “It could be a lot worse,” the doctor told her. “I see people whose news is much more terrible.” Surprisingly, this did not cheer up my teen.

The doctor, who as you may recall is the one who sent us to the surgeon, was not impressed with his work. “Pas fantastique,” was her verdict. She asked me about follow-up care, and when I told her we didn’t even see the surgeon on the day he did it and had had no follow-up whatsoever, her lips tightened ominously, and she scribbled something on a pad of paper. I have a feeling she won’t be recommending him anymore. And I support her in this.

But it’s my daughter who has to pay the price. Apparently the toenail is growing in sideways, which means that I have to shove bits of alcohol-soaked cotton between the nail and the skin with toothpicks, every single night for at least 6 months. And I’m someone who is philosophically opposed to torture in any form! Minimum 6 months, the doctor warned us. And when Ilsa began to pout again, she went back to talking about leukemia and migraines and other terrible things. She’s got a great bedside manner!

The infection is not clearing, although it’s not getting worse.

Today I had to go explain to Ismail that I’m not beating my child, just torturing her. He laughed. “We didn’t hear anything,” he said at one point, and “We didn’t think anything,” he said at another. So I’m not sure if they heard her yelling or not. Ilsa is a loud child, but Ismail assured me that they know we don’t beat our children. He was very sympathetic, and I expect we’ll get a plate of goodies from his mother soon.

And today I saw a lot of him, since I woke up and 2/3rds of the outlets in the house didn’t work. In fact, I could find only two that did—the one next to Abel’s bed, and the one the fridge is plugged into. While I was happy about the fridge, I wasn’t happy about the cold shower. (The water heater was out too) It wasn’t anything in the fuse box. Why do these things always happen when Donn’s traveling?

I boiled water on the stove for coffee and went in search of Ismail. And now, late afternoon, everything’s working again. The twins are watching an Asterix and Obelix cartoon and Elliot’s at the beach with a friend. Quiet, dull peaceful. It’s nice.