Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Phantom Phever

So no sooner had I settled into my workspace for another glorious day in contractual service to our armed forces than my wife called to let me know that the little guy had arisen with a slight fever and complaints of both “my stomach hurts” and “my mouth hurts” (which, given the still semi-capricious nature of his language acquisition and utilization, could have meant they both hurt, or only one did and he was using terms interchangeably, or something else entirely like he was hungry or wanted to run around in the altogether as is his wont). Daycare was thus unceremoniously shoved off the table and I made arrangements to put in a half day and leave early while my wife made arrangements to go in to work late, handing off the little guy tag-team style around midday. Fortunately everyone on both employers’ sides was amenable to all this, and my wife and I had to admit with gratitude that it had been months and months since such impromptu rearrangements had last been necessary.

And as it turned out, they may not have even been entirely necessary this time around either, because once he was administered a half-dose of infant ibuprofen the little guy was in fine spirits all morning and ate breakfast and lunch with close to his usual gusto. It’s somewhat gratifying to now feel like an experienced parent who can do the arithmetic of (elevated temperature) + (moderate crankiness) + (back to normal after a squirt of analgesia) and come up with (oh right he’s probably just getting a new tooth) and not obsessively, overthinkingly worry ourselves to death. Still, by the time we had done our version of House, M.D. (Pediatrics) the work schedules had already been flexed, so I was home for the afternoon, instead of blogging from work. (Hence yesterday’s post-free nature.)

Yeah ... I don't even know.
And once I was home, and my wife was getting ready for work, it was time to put the little guy down for a nap, which he took to with no complaints and which lasted for a record-shattering three and a half hours, maybe a little more. During the downtime I watched a movie, and did a little fanfic writing, and alternated between chastising myself for not going ahead and waking up the little guy after he had been sleeping for two hours and change, and guiltily enjoying the rarity of unstructured free time. So, you know, there’s that trade-off: no longer do I harbor the gruesome fears of a brand new parent, that every twitch and cry of my fragile offspring heralds imminent doom, but those have been exchanged for the more mundane second-guessings that every parenting decision is something less than exactly right, not a life-threatening error but a missed opportunity to be better.

Still, if the little guy is eventually going to take after his mother and find that waking up from a nap after the sun has set really wrecks his circadian moods, he’s not there yet. Once he was up yesterday he was his usual, crazy, adorable self. While I sat at the kitchen table he brought out two plastic toy versions of soda cans – one grape, one orange, both about the size of a spool of thread – and offered one and then the other to me over and over until we had pretended to drink about a case each. He greatly enjoyed both making the “pssshh!” sound effect of opening a carbonated beverage and the lip-smacking “ahh!” after finishing a drink. He also insisted there was some crucial difference between making realistic drinking noises and actually saying the syllables “glug glug glug”, and sometimes we had to do one and sometimes the other, but I never caught on to the logic of which was dictated when. At the very least he’s absorbing the rituals of hospitality pretty well, and can ask “Do you need another one?” and say “Here you go!” with a chipper graciousness that would do my old Irish aunts proud. And at the end of the day, I could be doing better but I could also be doing a lot worse than bringing up a boy who loves nothing better than sharing a hearty “cheers” over fake fizzy fruity drinks.

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