In America it’s called Murphy’s law, in the UK it’s Sod’s law, and in our house, it is called Z’s law. 

Why? Because our younger daughter, Miss Z, is the master of “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” - usually at the worst possible time.

Let me give you an example.

Earlier this year, my husband wanted to travel to the UK for 10 days. The girls and I would stay at home. I encouraged him to go, saying “we’ll be fine… just so long as Miss Z doesn’t end up in the hospital” (followed by a chuckle, because Miss Z was fine when I said it).

I’m sure you know what happened next. My husband flew out to the UK on Thursday afternoon and by Saturday I was calling an ambulance for Miss Z.

She ended up spending 7 out of the 10 days he was away in the hospital.

Generally, Miss Z is slightly subtler in demonstrating her “law”. I’m usually faced with things such as seizures just as the school bus arrives or coughing fits when we walk into the library.

If we’re planning a big outing with Miss Z, she’ll be happy and healthy the two days before, only to wake up in a foul mood, constantly crying and probably running a temperature on the day that matters.

I can give her anti-constipation medication for days, but it will only kick in when she’s in the pool for hydrotherapy.

This is also the girl who gives everyone big, silly grins until you pull out a phone or camera – and then she’ll scowl like no one’s business.

Whereas Murphy’s law incorporates an element of hope – sure if something can go wrong, it will, but you can do something to prevent it going wrong, right? – Miss Z’s law is heavy with inevitability.

No matter what you do or how prepared you are, it will still go wrong when you least expect it.

So, on that morning when I need everything to run like clockwork in order to get one child to school, one child to an appointment and me to somewhere else, I can plan and prepare the night before all I want, set everything out so we only have to get dressed and walk out the door – Miss Z is still probably going to throw a spanner in the works!

Z’s law makes me superstitious. After all, she has a history of developing issues shortly after I proclaim to a doctor that she has never had that issue.

So now, I do a lot of knocking on wood, crossing my fingers and prefacing sentences with “I hope it’s not bad luck to say…”. Here’s how a typical conversation with the neurologist goes:

Neurologist: How have Miss Z’s seizures been?

Me: Well, her seizures seem to have decreased (knocks on wood).

Neurologist: How has she responded to the new medication?

Me: So far she has responded well (knocks on wood). She hasn’t shown any side effects (knocks on wood again).

Since I’m most superstitious about seizures, Miss Z’s neurology appointments sound like a hungry woodpecker is in the room.

Based on the fact our neurologist doesn’t seem to find this unusual, I suspect I’m not the only parent with this type of superstition.

Z’s law isn’t all bad though. Like Murphy’s and Sod’s laws, it can be really effective at making me laugh at the situation – and myself. 

It is also a reminder that things go wrong and yet we still survive. Missing the bus, interrupting the library with loud coughing, frowning at the camera – this has all happened before and will happen again, but we’ll go on.

Because that is the second part of Z’s law – if something can go wrong, it probably will, but we’ll survive it and laugh about it… eventually.

 

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