Friday, October 10, 2008

What goes around...

Tonight, Google diagnosed me with bronchitis. Acute, not chronic. And, Dr. G told me that I shouldn't mix antihistimines with expectorants or else my fluid-filled, virally affected lungs would stage a protest and walk out of my body, waving a white flag (they'd use my appendix, but it made its own exodus in 1986). Thanks, Google. Thanks.

Let's just say that today has been my own sort of sick day, but instead of rest and bad television, it involved a doctor's visit for Jackson's 4 year old checkup and a quick run to Target where I managed to spend $17. I'm not kidding. Nor am I sure how. But, I think this alone is an indicator of how rotten I actually feel that I couldn't even impulse-buy my way into healthiness. The boys and I even went to Rise n' Dine, my favorite breakfast spot, this morning and no amount of shabby chic decor, fabulous coffee or chocolate chip pancakes could squelch the fact that I. Feel. Crappy.

We got home, and had a classic Flemming duel over naptime. Cooper is usually very diligent at falling asleep without much fuss, and Jackson's happily past the days where I swaddled (read: wrestled) him into submission for the afternoon. We managed to all get about 45 minutes of downtime before picking Matt up to head to the pediatrician.

Check-ups and well visits have always been a full-family tradition. I remember going when Jackson was a week old, and the oddness of hearing his name called out by the nurse:

"Jackson Flemming?"

"HA!" I thought. "That's what I was going to name my kid! Weird, huh?"

"JACKSON FLEMMING?"

"Why is she looking at me? OH! She's talking about my baby!"

Once she got my attention, I realized that I wasn't dreaming, and the walls weren't turning into a construction site and the people in the room weren't being replaced by former pets. Rather, I was fully awake and this woman was actually talking about the real-live person that I'd birthed, who had a real-live identity and a name that was going to forever be used to refer to him. It was sobering. Good think I liked his name, 'cause other people were having the audacity to actually use it.

Today, the four of us rounded our way into the Well waiting room, and the very polite family with their two-year old son looked in mild amusement as my sons dominated the play area and their boy's personal space. Fortunately, they were called back quickly. I hacked and coughed with much less discretion than I'd like to admit, and made some self-depricating comments about my sitting in the Sick waiting room by myself. Ha ha. Ha.

Ugh.

By the time they called us back, Jackson was ready and Cooper was out of control. He spent the visit forcing Matt to run lines up and down the hallways like he was a 9th grader trying out for the basketball team. We tried to appear put-together and collected, but Cooper was having none of it. In the meantime, Jackson was weighing in as a gigantic gronk with perfect vision and hearing. He even got to listen to his own heartbeat. He was pleasant, cooperative, and thoughtful. That is, until the shots.

We negotiated our way out of two shots, 'cause I'm pushy and stubborn and refuse to let my kids be medicated beyond reason. I also always skip the flu shot. I am a neo-hippie, and I've only had to push one nurse on this in the course of my parenting. Because of the scares with mercury in vaccines and the obvious bad idea of flooding one's child with viruses in their most vulnerable states, I keep my children on an alterate and more lengthy vaccination schedule. They do get vaccinated, but on my schedule. I will add that I take particular offense to the flu shot. I just don't find it to be effective except in ensuring that your kid will come down with the flu... immediately. And, I'm pretty sure that J's not going to contract Polio before our next round. Call me naïve. Call me foolish. But, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Also, I'm sick, so hold your feedback until I can speak without wheezing.

My negotiation from 5 shots down to 2 was not that impressive to Jackson who was terrified and vocal about his protest. In his infancy, Matt was the parent-in-charge for shots. I just couldn't handle it (to date, on the "Things Mandy defers to Matt" list are: vomit, shots). I think it's the same for parents who can't be in the same room during their child's Briss. Today, for some reason, prehaps because I was cough-y and phlegm-y and would have been cut from Cooper's top ten list of players to keep that day, I got to sit with Jackson during his shots. It was like a glimpse of old times when I, literally, had to wrestle Jackson to sleep for his naps. It had the appearance of tenderness, with me wrapping his limbs meticulously in a blanket, cooing tender words to him while he registered his protests. If the room was set to "mute" it might have looked sweet. In reality, it was like someone trying to convince a greased pig that snuggling up with a hot skillet would make for a nice way to pass the time.

There are times where I would love to bottle up some of the moments of their babyhood and re-live them later. The feeding, the cuddling, the phantom nursing, the rocking... I would do anything, some days, to repeat the rhythms of those early days. Today, my baby boy let me hold him and comfort him in ways that were utterly familiar. In both of our bones, we remembered how it felt to feel frustrated beyond words and quietly still in the pain of it all.

Matt took the boys out to the car and when I emerged, vaccination report in hand, they were still wired. Jackson had tears streaming down his face, and he was clear that his leg was not able to bear his weight, perhaps ever again. Cooper was demanding MILK (if I were to write down an entire conversation with Cooper, all of his words would appear in ALL CAPS), and Jackson was ready to go home.

When we pulled into the driveway, the balm that is home soothed these boys instantly. After emptying their bladders on our lawn, Calvin and Hobbes-style (see photo!), C was ready to play baseball, J was ready to bike. This is remarkable given the trauma to his thigh from the 3" long needles and our optimistically long ride on Tuesday evening, in which I made one of the most colossally bad parenting decisions of my life. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

[BLOG FLASHBACK!] Tues, Oct 7, 2008: For some reason, I opted to let each boy take his own bike on our ride, rather than insisting that C ride with me on the tandem. J had just received a brand new bike for his big ol' 4th birthday, and he was eager and ready. We headed out, crossing the unknown territory of Candler Rd, and into West East Lake. The three of us made it three blocks before the red lights started bleeping and the sirens warned me that we'd gone too far! Let's just say that it took us 20 minutes to make to three blocks, and 80 to make it back home. At some point, I morphed from "fun mom" into "Coach Mom." I stopped being peppy and encouraging and became, uh, pushy and scientific, saying things like, "GO, BOYS GO! DON'T LET THE SPEED SCARE YOU! SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND ON A BIKE! GO FAST, THE MOMENTUM WILL CARRY YOU! DON'T STOP! LET YOUR BIKE WORK FOR YOU, NOT AGAINST YOU! DON'T STOP! GO, GO, GO!"

The subtle nuances of my actual encouragement were lost on my boys. In all fairness, I should also admit the subtle nuances of their balking were lost on me. About 80% into our ride, it occurred to me that J couldn't use the hand brakes on his shiny, new bike, and didn't know how to use the foot breaks. Also, Tiny C didn't have any brakes at all. So, we practiced pedaling forward to GO!, and backward to STOP! Things went a lot smoother after that. I assure you that I apologized and mentally slapped my own forehead in shame without any prompting.

So today, when we arrived home, the afternoon was cool and sunny, and it was past time for my antihistimine-free expectorant. Matt played with the boys outside, biking them up and down the street, and I sat pitifully on the couch, waiting for Friday Night Pizza to arrive.

After dinner, Matt took the boys to the bathroom and I listened to the sound of three boys in the bath, which is funny because I only have two children. I eventually got drawn into the fray of all of them splashing and the boys washing Matt's hair with eagerness and more tenderness than I would have expected, since they easily could have enacted total revenge for all of the water we've ever poured into their eyes in one fell swoop. But, they were kind and we wrangled them upstairs and got them to sleep fairly quickly.

So, tonight, after the boys went to bed, I ran a bath for myself, which I haven't done since I was in labor with Cooper. I mean, I shower on a near-daily basis, I'm just not big on baths. I submerged my already floating lungs under the warmth of the water, and read my latest issue of Wondertime, a great magazine with some fantastic articles on the science of humor, particularly in children, and pregnancy dreams. It was calm, quiet, and soothing.

Today, Jackson's nurse chided me as I hacked, saying, "You know, mom, you need to take care of yourself, too." She's right, and for some reason, I rarely take the chance to do so. Sick days make me feel wimpy, self-indulgent, gluttonous. But, they also make me feel... better. Keeping the boys home today when they could have gone to school might have been a mistake, but they found ways to care for me in spite of it.

Matt rushed out to our neighborhood pharmacy this morning to get me the finest Robitussin DM money can buy, and throughout the day, Cooper ran to retreive the bottle every time I was wrecked with a paritcularly bad bought of coughing.

"MAMA, YOU SICK?"
"Yes, baby, Mama's sick."
"YOU NEED MEDICINE?!"
"Yes, baby, daddy got me medicine."
"I GO GET IT FOR YOU."

He would trot off each time to return with the bottle in hand. And tonight, as Matt and I were tucking the boys in bed, I was drop-kicked by my infested bronchioles. Jackson came over, and started rubbing my back. Cooper followed suit. If they had offered me some chicken soup and Tiger Balm, I wouldn't have been surprised.

As I soaked in my potentially-last bath of the Bush Administration, I thanked God for these boys who cared enough for me to ensure that I found my path to rest and recuperation. I saw their tenderness and compassion, and was grateful for their willing hearts and thoughtful minds. Maybe Matt and I have instilled some of this in them, maybe nature is responsible. But I know that I'm grateful for their care and love that's come back around to me.

1 comment:

Loving Landon said...

you know...i think i diagnosed you (along with jimmy) on Wednesday night... Glad that the men in your life are taking such care of you becasue you wait TOO long :)

ps i am the same way...