Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Spoon Full of Sugar and Ankle Restraints Make the Medicine Go Down

I have a vivid childhood memory of being held down on my dining room table by my parents' friends at a party.  I was wriggling around, staring up at the light, feeling trapped and confused.  My panic ended and arms released immediately after my mother came over, held my nose and shoved a disgusting tasting liquid in my mouth.  I recall this memory with anger, often wondering why my mother couldn't have come up with a more creative and less abrasive way to administer medicine.  When my daughter was born I vowed to never do this to her. I was confident I'd come up with ways to make it fun and introduce chasers of ice cream and peanut butter.  I now recognize my naivety in underestimating the strength and will of a child.

We have been lucky it took 18 months for our daughter to get sick with the need of medication.  There has never been anything more than a 24 hour cold in her system while friends' kids have had virus after virus.  But alas, she has caught the croup and for the past week our routine and rule book have been tossed out.

Our couch has been covered in more mucus and food than the manufacturers could have ever imagined.  Our necks and backs ache from sleeping uncomfortably in our bed, the couch, and the recliner to accommodate a cranky toddler who doesn't want to sleep alone or horizontally.

I've made a pathetic attempt to get her to take a bath by getting in myself.  Showing her how much fun it is to play with Mickey who is clearly not waterproof, only to have her kick and scream while trying to wash the snot clump out of her hair.  Exhausted my husband later cut out said snot clump with a scissor since the shampoo did nothing.

At one point there was vomit everywhere.  On the rug, in the garbage, all over my unwashed dishes in the sink when I thought I was being smart and held her over my shoulder to avoid more mess.  After throwing up on both of our shirts my husband and I tore them off, walking around topless while we tended to her.  We eyed each other, noting the complete non-sexiness of the moment.

We tried to give her anything she pointed to and became increasingly frustrated when she wanted everything and nothing at the same time.  We took video of her when she was so out of it she talked gibberish and looked drunk.

Despite all this, the most difficult challenge wasn't washing vomit out of a rug.  It was trying to give her the small amount of medicine she needed.

Attempt number one was on the changing pad.  I tried to use the syringe as she was crying, mouth open, during a diaper change.  Dumb move.  She spit it all out, got upset and left me wondering if she took in any medicine at all.  Second and third attempts resulted in many hand swatting and a strained "Noooooooo."  I'd approach her with the medicine in hand and she'd run like the blonde girl in a horror movie, looking back every few feet to see if I still wanted to murder her.

We tried giving it to her in a spoon, in a cup, in a cup with a straw, in the bottle, in the sippy cup.  Mickey took a sip, Mommy, Daddy, our neighbor, Elmo, a picture of Grandma.  Nothing worked and so much was spilled I wanted to dip into her piggy bank and take back the prescription co-pay.  I looked up techniques online, drawing the line at the woman who claimed she does a "fun, silly" dance that leaves her daughter in stitches wanting nothing more than to drink her medicine to view an encore.

I was about to give up when I read the line " you have to be confident that the medicine is going to help her." I knew part of my problem was not wanting to psychology scar her and while I believed the medicine would help I couldn't bring myself to force her to take it in an effective way.  My confidence in this being what is good for her despite her rebellion wavered.  I knew this was another challenge as all the hard things I have faced as a parent are more my issues than anything else.

So I again filled up the syringe, put on a pained Chandler Bing smile, and approached my daughter as she sat with my husband on the couch.  I told him to hold her tight though she quickly realized this wasn't a bear hug.  I could see her confusion, her trust in us fading, as I squeezed her cheeks and inserted the syringe.  She coughed and swallowed.  We did this a few times until I said "All done."  She had a look on her face that said, "Oh, that was it?"  I kissed her on the cheek and told her I was sorry, that I had to give her medicine and I hated doing it this way but hoped we could still be friends.

As I walked away she said "I sorry," and continued watching her show and snuggling with Daddy.  I laughed thinking of my mother and said, "Me, too."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Eternal Valentine

My husband and I are nine months apart in age, a fact that tugs on my heartstrings as I think I was put on this Earth just for him.  My mother remembers a snowy February and how everyone was house bound back in 1978.  The details start to come to her and I abruptly end the conversation, having gathered enough to confirm what I needed to have my whimsical, romantic theory.

In retrospect, the years it took us to find each other weren’t the hard part.  Sure it was lonely and at times frustrating, with nights full of R.E.M. songs in the dark. But those in relationships know the truth.  Being "we" instead of "I" is the challenge.   And marriage with a child is even harder. 

In the first few months of parenthood I understood why couples get divorced, why the fatigue and arguments wear you down and how tiny breaks in a marriage can form.  There are times even now when we are almost unrecognizable to each other.  Times when our marriage turns into an unfamiliar dance.  One where the tempo speeds up and one of us must lead the other when the steps change. 

I’ve learned that the true meaning of “making it work” isn't necessarily a compromise of who has control over the remote or what kind of bread is better like when we were first married.  Its one of us taking a shower while the other is on the toilet and knowing that may be the only time we get to do those things and have a meaningful conversation without interruption.  It’s a back rub, a nice dinner, or just letting the other person have some time to his or herself.  Its listening and letting each other know at times we just don’t have the head listen.  It’s holding hands in the car, happy there isn't a Fresh Beats song on for once and enjoying the quiet, knowing there is so much to say and content there is no energy to say it.  It’s being a pendulum, ready to swing the other into motion when one of us is about to give up.  It’s pushing ourselves when we know the other needs us.  It’s loving each other so much after so much time together.  And knowing all our worries will somehow work themselves out because despite our tattered edges, we are two pieces that perfectly fit.  

Valentine’s Day without a boyfriend always made me think I wasn’t special.  That no one would find all that makes me, me, a compliment to what makes them, them.  I hope my daughter never feels this way and is showered with roses, chocolates and sweet messages.  But all kids suffer heartbreak.  So in fourteen years I’ll sit on her bed, pop in Adele’s Greatest Hits and help her finish a tub of ice cream.  I’ll remind her what this day is really about and how a day on the calendar exists for her too.  She just doesn’t know it yet.   The day when you help that special someone blow out his birthday candles, happy you have finally found him.  Knowing despite all the distance in time and space, he was brought into this world just for you.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pre-School: A Story from the Inside

My daughter is ready for pre-school.  My husband and I are not.   I can tell she is bored with us and the everyday play of the living room, so we are putting our own fears and feeling aside.  We've been investigating pre-schools for the fall and each time we visit one she is more excited.  Let me rephrase that.  She is more and more comfortable squiriming out of our arms and bolting to the group of kids and subsequent toys.  

I imagine her first day of school so often and the myriad of things I will do to keep myself too busy to worry.  It wasn't until today that I thought about what it would be like for her.  What challenges will she face and in turn try to figure out?  What if she were to have her own weekly blog like her mother, and bring to light all of the untold stories of the playground?  As her personality starts to shine I'm guessing it would sound a little like this....

"Why Pre-School Sucks...Sometimes"
by Toddler-In-Training

"Give Mommy a kiss?" Mommy says with that look in her eye she has whenever she goes to work.  Like I'm never going to see her again.  I don't know what she's so upset about.  She's leaving me in this awesome place with all these toys.  She's suffocating me with a hug and I know she wants to say goodbye but look, look over there!  Its the music thing I have at home.  The one with all the colors and the sticks and that smelly kid Jack is going to get it before I do!

"Okay, okay", I say to Mommy.  She's going on about me being good and how she is going to miss me and I can't get my jacket off fast enough!  
"Okay bye!"  I give her a wave and dart to the music thing.  Jack arrives a second later and looks at me.  I shake my head no.  I try to ignore him and continue hammering away at the keys but he looks so defeated.  I can't help but feel bad so I give him a stick.  He quickly yanks the other one out of my hand, pushes me aside and starts to play.  I get up and reluctantly go over to the dolls thinking Daddy is right. Boys are yucky.

We eat some snacks and then everyone goes over to the sticky stuff.  Miss Dianne called it Play-Doh yesterday.  Smells good, I wonder how it tastes?  
"Not in the mouth!" Miss Dianne yells at me.  I look up at her and see she is giving me the same face Mommy does when I'm in trouble.  Hmmmm.  This confirms they are clearly working together.

This place is cool but weird.  I can tell there are some rules.  And its confusing.  Like yesterday I went to get my Dora cup and Miss Cindy told me it wasn't mine.  It looked like mine.  There was Dora on it and Boots.  I tried to show her how I can drink out of it like a big girl but she told me no again.  Then she handed me another one.  It was the exact same one! 

The same thing happened when I saw Mickey Mouse.  I couldn't believe he was here.  I just left him in his stroller at home!  I don't know how he passed us in the car but he was here when I came in!  I went to give him a hug and the new girl, Sophia ran by.  I said hi and waved and said, "Me Mickey" to introduce them. She just stared at me.   "HI!" I said a little louder and then she walked away.  Did I do something wrong?  Then she went over to Miss Dianne and started crying.  Miss Dianne came over and told me I needed to share.  What's this word share that I keep hearing?  They are all about it here.  I never hear this at home.  Sure Mommy and Daddy tell me to share with them all the time but I know they don't really want to play with my blocks so I just ignore them. 

I've been playing for a while and I'm getting tired.  The older kids are all playing with the same doll and I'm tired of fighting for my turn.  Its time for a snuggle and some Fresh Beats Band.  
"Milk and Beats!"  I say.  Daddy's not around so Miss Dianne and Miss Cindy will have to do.  
"Milk peez!" Miss Cindy gives me a funny look.  Did she just poop?  I think for a minute that she should be like Mommy and go on the potty. Then I remember I'm just being ignored.  This is not the kind of service I get at home.  I'd be half into a Fresh Beats Band episode by now snuggled into Daddy's chest but no.  Not here.  Its chaos.  Jack is now fighting with Sophia for the music thing.  Miss Dianne is playing with the twins and Miss Cindy is now trying to tell that stupid boy Xavier not to put Play-Doh in his mouth.  Man, that kid does not listen!

Now its time to line up.  I hate this lining up.  I never have to do this at home.  We put our coats on and I'm praying we are headed somewhere fun.  We walk outside and I see him. Standing in his red sweatshirt with that big smile.  "Daddy!" I shout and run to him.  His hug is nice and soft and warm.  Not like Ms. Dianne or Miss Cindy's.  
"How was your day?" he asks and whisks me into the car. I tell him everything and am very detailed though he just says "Wow!"  I guess one day I'll be able to tell him everything like Mommy does when she gets off the train.  He says "wow"  too but kinda different.  Not as excited.  

"Say bye bye to your friends," Daddy says as he straps me into my car seat, "You'll see them tomorrow."   Monkey is in the seat next to me and feed him one of my cookies as Daddy puts on the iCarly theme song.  Monkey looks famished.  I'll have to leave him more snacks tomorrow.

I see my classmates and their parents getting into cars.  They're all pretty fun, but I'm beginning to learn a few things about them.  There is definitely a pecking order in this class.  The bigger kids tend to get their way.  They are immune to my tantrums, which is odd because they work so well at home.  But little do they know I've got some skills too.   I may only be in the 30th percentile for weight but I can stack up to eight blocks and say dragonfly.  All I need is some time at home to regroup.  Time to practice more runaway drills with Mommy at bath time and bulk up on goldfish crackers.  Then Thursday, that music thing is mine and Smelly Jack will have to find a new toy.