When my summer went up in smoke
I’ve agonized over writing this. I promised the editors that I was going to submit an article about my favourite “staycation” moments. I had an outline about ice cream hunts, day trips and movie nights. There would be a humorous twist, of course, a sardonic angle ending in an inclusive, collective sigh of “ahhh, parenting, amiright?”
And then there was a fire.
We were spending the week with my parents at a cottage in Haliburton. About three days in, we got a voicemail from the fire department, saying there was a fire and our front door was compromised. It turns out that our neighbours two houses down caught fire, and the house beside them – which attaches to us – caught fire as well.
We’ve incurred a lot of smoke and smoulder and the house is unlivable right now, but we are safe and I thank god we weren’t there. Living out of suitcases and temporary apartments can put a cramp in anyone’s summer. Here’s how I managed to salvage it:
I became my own portable office: I’ve dealt with insurance companies before, and the one thing I know is that I am my own best advocate. While our adjustor initially took the reigns and made sure that we had the bare necessities, insurance companies have many moving parts and are sometimes short on details. Armed with a tiny notebook, a binder clip of business cards and my cell phone, I have spent hours followingupfollowingupfollowingup with cleaning crews, relocation companies and engineers. Staying on top of business allowed me to carve out some quality time with my kids.
I started accepting help. People are awesome. I have an incredible village of family and friends. As soon as word got out about our situation, we were been invited to sleepovers, pool days, meals, you name it. When we were in between residences my parents let us all sleep over at their place. I don’t accept help very often, but this time I allowed myself to say yes because it’s not just about me anymore.
I didn’t let our situation affect the kids’ summer. I haven’t told our oldest about the fire specifically. I’ve positioned the rest of the summer as a great “adventure”. We did the ice cream crawl (Ed’s Real Scoop, Hollywood Gelato and Sweet Jesus, anyone?), a trip to Centre Island, movies and so many pool days my boys resemble prunes. Of course, I’m tempering all of this with the knowledge that my kids are smart and can tell when I’m being insincere.
When my boy asks me why he can’t go home and get his treasure box I tell him (after dying inside) that there are people fixing up our house so it will be fresh and new and clean. It’s all I can do right now.
I’ve found silver linings everywhere. We’ve been inconvenienced, but our neighbours literally lost everything. We didn’t have to experience firemen kicking our door down in the middle of the night. Our house is secure and has a million people cleaning and fixing it.
Most importantly, we are safe and my kids are having a kick-ass summer.