Our First Date

 

heart

Martin and I like to look back on our “first date” with fond memories. The funny thing is, when we started comparing how the date and the lead up to it went, we had quite different versions of the same story. So, here, in all its glory, is the story of our first date, and I’ll let you be the judge as to who probably has it right.

 

Nicole’s Version.

 

So there I was, a single mom, living in Switzerland, enjoying life and work and travel, when one of my friends at work decided it was time for me to start dating again. I thought it over. I hadn’t dated in uh… a little while. Life was good, who needs a man anyway? Ok, it would be nice to have someone to go out for supper with, watch movies with, someone kind and intelligent and willing to be in charge of bug squashing and remote control battery buying, two tasks that were sorely unmet in my home. So I decided she was right. I was Ready To Start Dating.

 

She took this on as a mission. I found folded newspaper pages in my locker at work, the classified “men seeking women” section, with big red circles around certain candidates, and notes written on the side like “this one sounds fun!” and “loves travel!”. I read them with interest, put them in my bag, and never looked at them again.

 

My friend did not relent. She started checking into some of the new guys at work, a whole batch of them had just arrived, having been transferred from Zurich. “Fresh meat!” she said, rubbing her hands together greedily (Ok she actually never said or did that, but I like to imagine it that way).

She came up with a candidate.

“Martin. He’s Swedish or Danish or something. One of those countries up there.”

I nodded.

“You don’t know who he is, do you.” She accused.

“Uh…  Is he, uh, tall with dark hair?” I was just guessing.

“They’re all tall with dark hair. Nicole. He’s got potential. He’s taller than YOU. “

I hesitated.

“He reads. He speaks, like, a lot of languages. He’s smart.”

I headed for the door. “My break is over, I’ll check him out” I said enthusiastically.

“He’s perfect!” she called after me.

 

So a few days later. I‘m at work, on a break (you’re starting to think we’re always on a break, but we do actually work too.)

 

I’m sitting at a shared computer area, at one of the many computers available for our use during breaks. I am aimlessly reading emails. Nothing new. I think over this Whole Dating Thing. I really should make more of an effort.

Then I notice him. It’s that guy my friend mentioned, sitting at a computer just across from me. Martin, right? He looks ok. Harmless. Hey, he has a book! Potential.

How do I ask him out? I actually am free tonight, Jesse and Daniel are in Canada at their dad’s for a week!

I get a bit nervous. Come on now, just strike up a conversation. Say something clever and funny.

Silence.

Ok say something deep and meaningful.

Silence.

I have re-read the same sentence on my computer 17 times.

Say anything. Seriously.

“Hey, have you seen that new movie, blah blah blah?” (The blah is because I now can’t remember which movie it was, since I was obviously just pretending I wanted to go see it.)

“Oh,” Martin replies, glancing up from his computer at me. “No. I want to, it should be pretty good.”

“ Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard too!” I say enthusiastically, clearly overjoyed at the possibility of soon seeing blah blah blah.

Silence. Martin goes back to looking at his computer.

I try again.

“Do you know where it’s playing?”

“Uh, nope” he says, and looks away again.

“Oh, that’s too bad.” Now madness takes hold of me. “Maybe I’ll look it up. I could go see it tonight after work. My kids are in Canada, so I’m pretty much free.”

“Hmmm” Martin says, obviously not interested.

“Yep, I’m free as the wind. Free as a bird. Free to do whatever I want. It’s great” I chuckle. (Inner voice: WhatintheworldamIsaying?).

“Huh.” Martin offers, and then stares at his computer again.

“Kind of don’t feel like going alone though.”  (Inner voice: DidIactuallyjust saythat??)

“Hmmmm.” Martin says, staring at a spot next to my head.

“Wonder if anyone else here is off work soon and feels like going too?” I look around the room vacantly, not seeing anything at all, my eyes blinded by my temporary insanity.

“Oh.” Martin looks around too. Then his eyes finally stop on me. “Would you like to go to the movie together?” He asks casually, like the thought just occurred to him.

“Hey, sure, why not?” I respond, acting spontaneous and cool and sophisticated and thrilled and casually interested and nonchalant and bedazzling.

The bedazzling is the best part, isn’t it?

So that’s how I remember it. Then we went out, first to a restaurant downtown, then started talking in real English, and never did see blah blah blah.

 

Martin’s Version.

New job posting in Geneva. Cool. Work is fun. Nice to meet new people.

Hey, there’s a girl who seems nice. Find out name. Nicole. Find out if single. Yes. Make mental note to ask her out when the opportunity arises.

Sitting at a computer on break. Reading about cool interesting gadget stuff. Make mental note to buy everything.

Thoughts interrupted by voice asking about the movie blah blah blah.

Oh, it’s that girl.

Mind goes blank.

Try to think of a way to ask her out.

Nothing.

She keeps talking.

Still trying to think of a way to ask her out.

Nothing.

She is still talking.

Maybe should just take a risk and just ask.

If she would just stop talking I could concentrate on how to say it.

Ok here goes.

“Would you like to go to the movie together?”

She smiles. Says a lot of things. Pretty sure it’s a yes.

She is quite bedazzling.

 

So there you have it, Version 1 or Version 2, who knows which is closer to the truth (well, mine obviously), but regardless, the date was a success since we are now happily married 7 years later, and have still never seen the movie blah blah blah.

Moving to Switzerland, One Expat’s Story…

PART THREE – First impressions… or what crazy thought made me decide to do this? 

So I stumble off the plane, jet-lag having started to settle in already (actually I think it may have started on the drive to the airport in Canada) and am greeted by M. DeLestrade who surprisingly looks exactly as I pictured him: shorter than me (everyone is shorter than me as I am six feet tall. And FYI, in case you are skeptical, that is the first thing I have not really exaggerated in this story so far), wearing a long grey jacket, shiny black leather shoes that I cannot picture any man in Canada wearing, slightly balding and looking simultaneously thrilled to see me and worryingly rushed.

He rushes over and shakes my hand energetically, quickly talking about the weather, the lateness of my flight, the hotel he is bringing me to and the interview tomorrow. What I hear: “…cold for August… Air France always late… Hotel Something conveniently located near the Something… tomorrow at 8”.

During this conversation we walk to the car, dump my inappropriately huge suitcase (also inappropriately old and cheap, I noticed at the baggage carousel, compared to the Swiss) into the trunk, and head off in a wild frenzy of driving at extreme speed through busy city streets while talking (him)/, nodding of the head (me)/ waving hands to stress a point (him)/ holding on the door handle in fear for my life (me). He deposits me at the hotel reception, suitcase embarrassingly being completely ignored by the grumpy looking “concierge” (that’s what his name tag says, although I’m fairly sure it’s his role, not his actual name. But you never know).

The height issue…

Getting to my room is interesting, as the elevator is made for people who are no taller than 5 foot 11 with feet the size of jelly beans and a suitcase the size of a croissant. Fortunately, I have some experience at yoga, but I won’t reveal which Asana I had to use to get myself in there. Hopefully there was no camera. Which is likely as the elevator was roughly 100 years old.

Anyway, I collapse on my bed (made for a person no taller than 5 foot 5  and unfortunately having as a baseboard a beautiful ornamented black wrought iron gate through which my feet stick out like chicken heads out of their coop).

The room is quite small, not a good sign for the image of the company I am considering joining, I think suspiciously. I grab the check-in receipt, and notice the cost is three times higher than the 4 star hotel I stayed at downtown Toronto recently. Alrighty then.

I take a few deep breaths to calm myself, and while doing so repeat my not-so-calming mantra: “what the hell am I doing here?” a couple times ’til I am no longer quite as tired and then jump out of bed. I open the dark heavy curtains and gaze out at Geneva. It looks nice out there. Sunny, people are walking around looking, I don’t know, Swiss I guess.

I decide to join them. Could I fit in here?

Moving to Switzerland, One Expat’s Story…

Ready to take on the world!

PART TWO – How I Got Here

So there I was, minding my own business and perfectly content living in Canada with my two kids, finally making ends meet as a single mom. When suddenly, out of the blue, for no apparent reason, a wave of insanity hit and I applied for a job in Switzerland. Actually, it started innocently enough, when a guy at work mentioned that the Swiss were looking for qualified people in my industry, and since I had just gotten my own computer and internet line at home (this was WAY back in 2001, hard to believe I now walk around with this little gadget called an Iphone and check my emails roughly every three seconds), I thought, why not? And popped online, found their website and quickly emailed an application.

Let’s pause here and reflect on that little phrase… «why not?»… How many of us have ended up in some seriously tricky situations (not to mention pregnant) because of that one little phrase? Sure, it all seems innocent at the time… Why not go on a date with that guy at work? Why not try the raw oysters for once? Why not sign up for salsa lessons? Why not buy the fluorescent mini skirt? What could it hurt??? Hahahahaha! (For those of you who believe in God, that was him laughing sarcastically from above. For those of us who are unsure of his presence, that was probably the sound of my own sarcastic laughter, although I won’t admit to it because that would be like admitting that I talk to myself, a sure sign of insanity. Seriously. I don’t. Yes I’m sure.)

So anyway, I applied. On a whim. Then thought nothing of it for a couple months. Life went on. The kids (Jesse age 9 and Daniel age 5) went to school and did their homework and cleaned their rooms and life carried on as normal (some parts of that last statement may be slightly exaggerated). Life was good.

Then, the phone call.

I answer.

A joyful heavily accented voice says “Bonjour Madame, May I speak with Madame Scobie please?”.

“Yes, speaking.”

“Madame Scobie, BONJOUR!!” said excitedly, and from this point the conversation continued in French, with Monsieur Anatole DeLestrade enthusiastically speaking so fast I felt out of breath just listening. What I heard: “Switzerland… your application… job interview… available next week?” (This actually took him at least 10 minutes to say, but those are the only words I really heard).

I started to talk only to find I had suddenly turned into a Parisian-accented, hand-waving bubbly free-spirit who agreed to come next week for the interview. He happily hung up after agreeing on the travel details and saying good bye seven different ways.

I walked directly in to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and said to her: Are you insane??? You work next week!!! You have kids next week!!! (This week too but that was a moot point). You have other engagements next week!!! (That was untrue as I hardly ever had time or money to do anything but work and take care of my kids but it had the desired effect of scaring me even more).

And then the craziest thing happened. (Ok I know the whole woman-in-the-mirror talking to herself is already bordering on limited mental health, but bear with me here).

I felt suddenly calm. I took a deep breath. I decided I was going to Switzerland for a job interview. I would get it organized.

And I did.

Vacation

Ahhh… the sun on my face, the sand between my toes, the soft wind blowing and the distant noises of kids playing combined with seagulls screaming overhead…. I am sitting in a long chair on a beach in Trouville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, enjoying the sunny day. The weather in Normandy is exactly what people kept telling me it would be: completely unpredictable. This morning was grey and cloudy, and cold. I needed my warmest sweater to go out for a walk. The wind was strong, so much that my hair was always blowing around all over my face like a wild curtain, blocking my view half the time. We considered a picnic on the beach for lunch but eating sand was not appetizing, so we carried our bastognes and salami, cherry tomatoes and baguettes back to our room and ate on our more or less sheltered balcony, overlooking the sea, watching the ships just on the horizon.

We talked about how to dress later for our afternoon on the beach, which was going to happen regardless of the weather. Elliot’s main goal that day was to spend all his time digging in the sand with his cousins.

Then as we sat there, we started to notice that the dark clouds were being swept slowly away toward the east, being replaced by thin white whisps, and then those blew away like dust and the sky cleared. The bright hot sunshine fell down on us. The light seemed brighter than normal to our startled eyes, it reflected off the sea like a million stars.

We grabbed our things, sunscreen, books, beach toys, and ran out the door onto the beach.

The beaches in Normandy are amazing. The tides are so extreme that at low tide you have a huge expanse of white sand, so choosing a spot to set up is no problem. We rented one of the local beach tents that are typical of the beaches there, a brightly coloured round tent, open on one side, where you can have some shelter from the dazzling sun or wind if needed.

So now I’m sitting here on my long chair enjoying the warmth. I open my eyes and look way out to the sea. There are people jumping over the waves, small dark figures against the sun, and every wave flashes with bright sparkling light, then curls into a white foam and flattens as it slowly rolls in.

Yesterday we visited Juno beach, not far from here. It’s where all the Canadian troops landed on June 6th 1944, one of the five beaches that are side by side along this coast, where the D Day landings took place and the liberation of France began. Apparently there were so many ships and smaller boats in the sea, and men and equipment on the beaches that huge traffic jams occurred. Right here, in this sand, where my child runs now, completely oblivious to the literal blood, sweat and tears that were spilled not so many years ago.

Every town hall I have passed in this region flies all of the flags of the Allied countries which liberated Normandy after D Day, so it’s pretty cool to see the Canadian flag everywhere. The Canadian cemetery nearby has over 5000 graves, in a picturesque setting on a green hilltop overlooking the sea. There are fresh flowers recently placed in front of several gravestones.

Each grave has a soldier’s name on it, his unit, and his age. I didn’t see any over 23 years old. I think about the mothers who lost their sons on that day, and the next several days. The telegram arriving at the door. People feared the postman. A telegram was never good news.

It makes me think of receiving CT scan results. The formal piece of paper that reduces your life to a mere statement of facts.

Is it possible I can now relate anything back to cancer, or is war an actual valid comparison?

I haven’t had lots of time to just sit and think on this vacation, we’ve been busy every day. But right now as we sit on the warm beach in the sunshine, Martin and his sister are chatting, Elliot and his three cousins are digging for lost treasure and I can tune out a bit.

The first unit to come ashore lost half it’s men. Their landing had been delayed because of the weather (unpredictable Normandy, time has not changed that), so the tides had risen much more than anticipated. They couldn’t see the hidden mines and obstacles under the water.

I look out to the horizon. The tide is coming in now, the beach has narrowed a bit. I imagine watching 14,000 Canadian soldiers, barely more than teenagers, running toward me, stumbling, falling, crawling their way up the beach carrying heavy equipment, or maybe just carrying hope and fear for their their lives. I wonder if it was cold like this morning, if they shivered in their wet uniforms as they struggled up the sand past the dunes, over the rows of barbed wire and into the fields. Or was the sun out by then, mesmerizingly bright, blinding them as they tried to make out friend from foe? Did any of them have time to notice how beautiful the sea looked, or was it too red?

I get up from my chair and tell Martin I’m heading back to the hotel for a bit. We’re lucky our hotel is basically right off the beach, just across the boardwalk, so we all make lots of trips back and forth during the afternoon. The receptionist at the hotel does not seem to like this much, each time we have to ask for our key, which is one of those big brass things you could use as a paperweight. The hotel is an old historic building, and since I’m engrossed in WWII thoughts I can’t help but wonder what it was like in those times. Did secret French Résistance meetings take place behind closed doors?

I cross the boardwalk, which is littered with Beautiful People, yes, with capital letters. The Parisians are on vacation as of last weekend, and many of them are here. The women sitting at outdoor cafés along the boardwalk all look glamorous, the men all look sophisticated. This despite the constant wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes not, that blows across Normandy.

I take the ancient elevator up to our room, it’s one of those old rickety lifts with the second inner door that closes once you’re inside. There is barely enough room for three people in it, much less all the luggage we arrived with yesterday.

In our room I glance in the mirror to see how close I am to imitating the BPs, and note with regret that the wind has helped me look very similar to a broom. Oh well. I look out our window and see my family out there, enjoying the day. And yet I still also see all the uniforms running. Who stood here on this balcony on that day?

Is cancer like war? A bodily conflict, the chemo and radiotherapy soldiers being sent in to fight off the aggressor, in the hopes a strong strategy and superior numbers will win? The collateral damage is obvious. In France it’s estimated that at least 15 000 French civilians died on D Day, many from the Allied bombings that cleared the way for the troops.

Am I being too dark? Thinking of war, a conflict that is caused by people, and comparing it to cancer, an illness which none of us deliberately engages in? Yeah, maybe I am.

Martin and I both find we are a bit shell-shocked these days, like we are still reeling from the emotional impact of the last year. In some ways I think we were in “survival mode” the whole time, and just powered through because we had no other choice. Now that we have stepped away from the cancer world a bit, we often look at each other and say “Can you believe what we’ve been through?”

So maybe I am a bit melodramatic with the whole war concept, or maybe I’m suffering from a bit of post-traumatic shock… Or most likely both. I have been told I have a flair for the dramatic (not exactly these words were used, but I am going to take it as a compliment.)

Regardless, I do think I could look fabulous in a trench coat and a fedora, tipped slightly at an angle to shield my eyes, secretly running down the quiet cobblestone streets at night, slipping quietly around corners, whispering through a crack in the door to my résistance friends some secret code word to tell them of the imminent invasion so we can all join in. Martin would of course have been part of the Danish Resistance Movement, had we lived in those times, and would have been one of the many Danish heroes who smuggled all the Jewish Danes out of the country by boat into Sweden, making Denmark the only occupied country to have saved almost it’s entire Jewish population. Our heroic saga would end romantically when we part ways at a fog-shrouded airport, both destined for different missions…

Oh who am I kidding? In truth I would probably be hiding in a basement, waiting it out.

Oh well. We’ll always have Paris.

Living in the “Now”

The first batch

So one of the things that you learn when you are in the middle of a cancer diagnosis (or other major crisis, actually), is the importance of living in the present moment. You learn to value each happy day, each healthy day, and to not dwell on the “what ifs” of the future.

Now how many of you, reading that last paragraph, felt just mildly annoyed? Like, you KNOW you’re supposed to “live in the now” and embrace the present, and cherish each minute, but how many of us are actually able to do this?

I would very dearly like to live in the now. But I’m afraid that my kids will destroy my house if I do. I’m fairly sure we will all get quite hungry pretty soon if I choose to embrace only the present moment all the time. And although some people in this home (I’m not naming names) would be perfectly happy just throwing out the dirty dishes instead of washing them for the next use, I have a feeling eating breakfast cereal with milk directly off the kitchen counter would eventually ruin the experience. And frankly, I think if I don’t at some point wash that pile of laundry waiting for me, it will come alive, get up and walk out of our home in disgust.

The problem with “living in the now” is that the future is just waiting there, lurking around the corner, hoping you won’t bother taking out the garbage so that suddenly, when the future becomes the “now” you have to live in the unpleasant now because the old fun now is now the past and the new now stinks.

Did any of that make sense?

My kids are pretty good at it though. They seem fairly confident that everything will always work out and there is no need to really plan anything because somehow, magically, food will appear on the table, clothes will become clean, new shoes that fit will be bought in time, and anything broken will be fixed before it is desperately needed again. This is truly the magic belief of youth… Another name for this magic is “mom”.

In some ways, since I had my first batch of kids at a fairly young age (I just like how that sounds, “batch” of kids, like I’m an oven making cupcakes), I feel like I have been cleaning up people’s nows for a long time. And sometimes the nows seem to repeat themselves. Am I caught in some kind of cosmic time loop? Is that what living in the now truly means, that I get to repeat things over and over (and over)?

The other day, Elliot (sidebar, just want to mention, he already has some hair! Ok it’s just some peach fuzz, but still), decided that since he was going to be sitting on the toilet for a while (5 minutes total, which is a long now for him), he would bring a little toy car to play with. Don’t ask me how you are supposed to play with a car while sitting on the toilet, these are debates I prefer to avoid. In any case, the inevitable happened. And in the hopes of salvaging the situation, he flushed. So the now was now a flood.

And suddenly I was brought back in time 15 years to the same (almost) situation. (That is, different bathroom, different kids, same result).

Rewind to the “now” of one day in 1997. I walk in to the bathroom to find two boys, ages 3 and 6, standing next to the toilet staring in to its depths. The water in the toilet has already risen to past the halfway point and is continuing to rise rapidly. The two guilty looking kids (my sons, I admit) are staring in unblinking fascination at the spectacle as the rising water quickly reaches the brim.

“Hey” I yell, running in just as the water starts to pour on to the floor. “Hey” was the best thing I could come up with on the spur of the moment, though I admit it was not very original. My kids obviously thought so too, as they ignore me but quickly jump away from the waterfall surrounding the toilet bowl and up onto the edge of the bathtub, holding on to each other for balance and wobbling slightly. They stare at me with the same fascination they had bestowed on the toilet bowl, eagerly awaiting my next move as they teeter on their perch.

“Hey, what happened in here?” I ask, quickly grabbing the plunger and throwing an old towel on the floor. The extra “hey” is for effect. Obviously, it has none. The boys continue to stare, mouths wide open in surprise, heads moving back and forth from me to the toilet like fans watching a tennis match.

I fight with the toilet for a few minutes and the tidal wave subsides. Exhausted, I turn around to face the guilty parties and unleash my wrath. They are perched on the edge of the tub, the youngest one, Daniel, clutching on to his older brother’s pyjamas with both hands while the oldest, Jesse, holds onto the shower curtain. Both of them rock back and forth like tightrope walkers about to lose their balance. Jesse speaks first: “Why did the toilet do that?” he asks, tentatively. Daniel, sensing his cue, adds “yeah Mommy, why dat happen?”

Two sets of eyes stare at me in complete innocence, awaiting my response.

Well, I think to myself, everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty, right? I usher them out of the bathroom and sit them on the couch. “Did anyone put something in the toilet?” I ask, voice a calm reassuring blanket covering my extreme frustration. It is possible, I am reasoning crazily to myself, that the boys were standing innocently gazing into the depths of the toilet when suddenly for no apparent reason (perhaps a very localized earthquake with my toilet at the epicentre) the water suddenly started to rise out of control.

The boys look at each other, then back at me. Twice. Then Jesse, the responsible one, the mature one, the type of person who is willing to accept the consequences of his actions, fesses up. “Maybe Daniel did?”.

“No!” Daniel counters. “Just a wittle toily paper!”.

“How much toilet paper?” I sigh.

“Well,” offers Jesse “It wasn’t too much at all! But it WAS still attached to the toilet paper roll and when I flushed the toilet it just kept rolling and rolling and rolling and rolling (his eyes get very wide at this point in the story) and all the paper on the roll got pulled into the toilet… And then the water thing started to happen.”

I take a deep breath, trying to summon up as much energy as I can. “Look”, I explain patiently, “if we put too much paper in the toilet, or anything else in the toilet, it plugs and then the water can’t get down into the pipes when we flush. So this is what happens, ok?”

“What happen?” asked Daniel.

“The toilet plugged and the water spilled out” I answer, still patient.

“Oh.” Daniel is thoughtful. “But why?”

“Because you put too much toilet paper”

“No! Just a wittle piece!”

“But the little piece was still attached to more pieces and that’s just too much”.

“Oh. Why?”

“Because the toilet will plug.” Said with finality.

“Why?” Innocent eyes staring.

“Because that’s the way it’s made.” Trying to end the conversation.

“Why it’s made dat way?”

“Because all toilets are made that way” Starting to feel cornered.

“Why?”

“Because.”

“But why?”

“Just because”.

“But…”

AAAArrRRRggghhh, loss of control, desperation sinking in, will now do anything to stop the madness.

“Daniel how about a cookie?”

“Otay”.

And fifteen years later I am having the exact same conversation about not flushing objects down toilets, with roughly the same results (it was a muffin this time, not a cookie).

So is this what living in the now means? Being stuck repeating the same situations because there is actually no lesson to be learned?

I know I’m supposed to embrace the moment, seize the day and all that jazz. And it’s definitely true that cancer has made me realize that our time is limited. But despite all that, I do find that planning for the future is great. We’re heading off to Paris today. I’ve researched hotels and sites we want to see, what time of day is best to visit the Eiffel Tower without waiting in line too long. Elliot is insisting we have to take the stairs up, not the elevator. Not looking forward to that “now”, while it’s happening. But the memory of it will be worth the pain, just like the memory of Jesse and Daniel’s little faces as they perch precariously on the edge of the bathtub is all that now remains of the infamous Toilet Paper Incident.

Anyone else have advice for seizing the day, living in the Now?

Advice to Adults With Cancer from a 5 year old

Here’s a light-hearted look at cancer from the point of view of my son Elliot, who was only 4 and a half when diagnosed. I know many of the adults I am in touch with who have cancer, or who are helping a person with cancer through this journey, will relate!

Advice to adults with cancer from a 5 year old

1. It is perfectly acceptable to have a complete tantrum and throw your shoes around just before leaving for the hospital.
2. You always deserve a present after chemo.
3. If you feel like showing more respect and politeness to the hospital clown than your oncologist, that’s ok.
4. If you manage to grab the syringe of medicine from the nurse, it’s their loss and you are then allowed to squirt its’ entire content around the room.
5. You are allowed to complain loudly about any smells like perfume, but you are also allowed to fart freely whenever and wherever you want.
6. Anyone who says “this one tastes like syrup” better be not be lying or they can expect to catch some spit.
7. You are allowed to worry about life and death, but only to the same extent that you worry about whether Santa Claus will be able enter your home if you don’t have a chimney.
8. Speaking of worry, you are not allowed to worry about anything that is not going to happen today or tomorrow.
9. Any bad thing that happened in the past should be quickly erased from your mind using ice cream.
10. It’s ok to throw up directly on your caregiver instead of into the bucket they are holding. It will create warm and funny memories for them once this is all over.
11. Good friends may stare when they first see you without any hair, but they are quickly more interested in all your new toys. So make sure you have lots of new toys around all the time.
12. It is the right thing to do to jump off the examining table if the doctor’s hands are too cold.
13. A popsicle for breakfast is a good idea and goes well with bacon.
14. If someone rubs your bald head and says you’re cute you should stare at them in complete boredom until they stop.
15. Always believe that scars are badges of courage and make you look like a pirate or a superhero.
16. Jumping on the bed is a perfectly acceptable form of exercise.
17. Someone should always be available to carry you if you don’t feel like walking anymore and they will be grateful if you look at them lovingly and say “You’re my slave.”
18. It’s a good idea to frequently press the little button next to the bed that makes the nurse come running, because she might be lonely and bored, and enjoys picking your crayon up from the floor.
19. The only part of hospital food you should eat is the desert. The rest is not really food anyway.
20. Make having fun your priority, all the time, no matter where you are or what’s going to happen next.