Oh, internets, I’ve done it. That thing where you get so behind that you feel like you can’t post at all because where to start? And that thing where you’re so far behind that you can’t post also because you don’t know what’s going on with your friends and you haven’t been commenting and what kind of an ass does that?
But I do miss you, so I am going to try to just hit the high points of the past two months (two! Months! The shame!) and get back into the swing.
So. Some things. Very little order. Impressively incomplete. A gesture of affection.
Item: Christmas et al. Major parts great: people were nice, we were warm(ish) and safe, Bean in love with myriad relatives. We got to meet Pomegranate and her lovely wife and their Bunny! Minor parts: non-stop fiasco. I’ve had bad Christmases — springing to mind is the one where my beloved Grandmother was dying but had made it downstairs for presents and then my looniest aunt decided a Slight had been dealt to her toddler daughter (which it hadn’t, and anyway, the daughter was perfectly happy and secure in the love of the aunt who had supposedly said something terrible about not having any presents for her, actually “I am not ready to give you another present from the stack I am in the corner wrapping so that you can deliver it to its recipient, as you have been cheerfully doing; give me two minutes”) went nuclear, told us all in so many words how to fuck ourselves, stormed outcome back that night to storm out again, with some cursory packing this time and some tearful assurances that she’d always loved me. That was a bad Christmas. This was a good Christmas.
Also it is true that a huge storm disrupted our travel significantly, and once we finally got to my parents (following a lovely and unplanned interstitial weekend with friends in St. Louis), the Bean immediately got croup. And it turns out that croup, which sounds like it should only exist in Anne of Green Gables books, is really scary. I hadn’t written to any of you in so long that I felt sheepish asking for support, but I wish I had. Really scary.
On the first day he was sick, the Bean was suddenly barely able to breathe. The sign something was badly wrong was that he would only lean on my chest, holding his head at the angle that opened his windpipe most. This child just doesn’t slow down like that, no matter how sick he is. All the while, he was bark-coughing and breathing with a stridor rasp, a sound whose horror I had not fully appreciated when only reading about it. By the time we got to the ER, he was drooling.
I know that this is a normal childhood illness and that other kids have, by the Bean’s age, already been sicker in scarier ways, but it was still pretty awful.
I can enthusiastically recommend the ER at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Full disclosure, my dad works for that hospital, though not in that department, and it was therefore especially pleasing that the resident he had helped train was so kind and clearly competent. The triage nurse was willing to accept the pulse-ox reading we’d gotten while the Bean was asleep in the car, saving the tantrum-induced coughing fit we were in risk of. No one drew any blood — there was no reason to, and yet many places would have done it on principle, upsetting a sick kid for no reason. We watched Finding Nemo in the exam room. The respiratory tech, who was an awkward person in general, had a serious attack of being unable to make sense of the two mom business, at a moment when, frankly, we just wanted him to drop it and start treating our kid. When he finally got it, he was mortified and later appeared with a stuffed chicken of contrition, bought from the Heifer International stand in the hospital. (Heifer has its headquarters in Little Rock.) The Bean refused it, haughtily. Part of me wanted him to make nice, but part of me was a little proud that he was like, screw you and your guilt-chicken.
Although much improved after the hospital visit, the Bean got sick again that night, igniting a turf-war between my doctor parents over whether to return to the hospital. After packing bags for a probable admission and then wondering whether that made sense, given that, however bad he sounded, the Bean didn’t seem lethargic or especially unhappy, we called his very sensible doctor, whose full name, as it happens, is the same as a minor Anne of Green Gables character. She said we could stay home, so I headed down the hall to put him to bed (read: to sit up in an armchair and let him sleep on me, which is how it went all week), and everyone tried to calm down. A few minutes later, my phone rang, and Sugar picked it up. It was the doctor again.
“Oh, hi,” said Sugar, “this is the Bean’s other mother.”
“Where are you?”
“WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL????!!?”
“You told us not to!”
“Wait, is this the Bean’s mother?”
With that, she hung up and presumably called a family having a worse night than we were. Heck of a wrong number.
The next week wasn’t much fun (except that it was, because the Bean had so much fun playing with the 8 zillion trains eBay was divested of on his behalf), but the Bean did get better and, except for a horrible migraine, my immune-suppressed mother didn’t get sick. Sugar flew home so that she could go to work and promptly got so sick she couldn’t work or even pick us up at the train station when we arrived almost a week later. We were all happy to be home.
Phew! So much for short! One more story for now, in the interests of actually posting this one.
The big, positive excitement around here is how rapidly the Bean’s language skills are expanding. At Christmas, he had what I think of as his direct-object realization moment, at the lunch table. Suddenly and clearly amazed with himself, he came out with, “I…like…PICKLES!!” Now he asks questions like, “do you like chips, Mommy” and, “What do tracks like?” (“Um,” replied Sugar, “big, flat places where it isn’t too hot or too cold.”)
He also suddenly knows all the letters and some numbers by sight. This happened in less than a month from the moment when I realized he knew any beyond what could be written off as a lucky guess. Just before New Years, we were in St. Louis, eating onion rings. The Bean, as usual, was ignoring all of our food in favor of his limited, maddening diet. (Don’t get me started.) But suddenly he began pointing wildly at my plate, saying, “oh, oh, oh!”
“Oh, you want an onion ring,” I asked, taking his exclamation for pure excitement. I handed him one with a bite out of it.
“C! C! C,” he said.
A wise child, that one, binding himself to me through a shared love of literacy and fried foods.