Thursday, January 30, 2014

Out of the woods (... maybe?)

This morning when I got up for work the temperature was 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet schools in our fair city were open, not even delaying their start times.

Perhaps I should back up and backfill the past few days of silence as well as review some earlier developments. Recall, if you will, that last Monday, ten days ago, was the federal recognition of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, and a school holiday. And the day after that, the schools were closed due to inclement weather. And the day after that, the same, and the day after that, the same. The reasoning shifted slightly as the week went along, from "actual snowfall" to "snow hasn't melted and is icy" to "really honestly dangerously cold and children shouldn't be willingly put at risk of frostbite". By last Friday, the schools finally felt comfortable opening for classes, with a two hour delay to give the sun time to rise and warm things up from "shockingly bitter" to "slightly breathtaking".

So all in all last week the little guy went to school for a grand total of a half a day. Going into this week, we knew he would be home at least Monday and Tuesday, because those had been on the calendar as teacher workshop days since September. (I heard rumors of other school systems deciding on the fly to move their customary mid-year teacher workshop days to the inclement weather days, under the logic that if the roads were clear enough to drive on, but school was closed because it was too frigid to ask the students to wait on street corners for buses or walk however many blocks, it was all right to ask adult teachers to drive themselves to school and brave the open-air parking lots. Some schools did this. Not ours.) Yesterday should have been the little guy's first day back, but once again we got a bit of snow and a lot of polar deathchill vortex air, so school was off. Today, though, as I led off with, it was business as usual. My wife dropped the little guy off at the bus and he is in the middle of his first full day of kindergarten since the 17th as I type this.

The cold snap seems to be over for the moment, for whatever that's worth. Although today started out well below freezing, it's supposed to get up above the 32oF mark today, and warmer and warmer still as the weekend progresses, with overnight lows in the seasonally appropriate upper 20's instead of single digits. It's an improvement, but this winter really can't end soon enough.

Anyway, the little guy's cabin fever is finally being treated in the most sanguine of ways, but before that was able to happen it threatened to become a full-blown household epidemic. At the very least, I believe the little guy transmitted a case to his baby brother. You would think that a ten-month-old, with all the temporal awareness of a moderately gifted goldfish, would be fairly immune to the boredom and existential claustrophobia that gives rise to cabin fever. I would think that too, but the fact is that some time over this past weekend the baby just went insane, with no discernible explanation, so if it's not a case of cabin fever contagion, I don't know what it is.

After steadily getting better and better about sleeping through the night or close to it, the baby started going from dozing peacefully to full-on standing freak-out multiple times a night. One bad night, my wife and I could handle, but two bad nights in a row where the second was worse than the first gave us cause for concern. Unfortunately these were Saturday and Sunday nights, so when Monday morning rolled around my wife asked if I would call in sick to work so that I could help deal with the kids. Partly this was us operating under the theory that two half-braindead sleep-deprived parents could approximate the competence of one normal caregiver, and partly it allowed my wife to take the baby to the pediatrician while leaving the other two home with me. (Taking all three kids to the doctor's office can be a harrowing experience, and also increases the odds that someone will come home with a germ they didn't have going in.)

In a weird and admittedly selfish way, we were hoping the doctor would say the baby had an ear infection. Not that we would ever wish such a malady on any child, but we've survived the little guy and little girl having so many ear infections they each had operations to put drainage tubes in. We know ear infections tend to upset babies the most at night when they're lying down and gunk pools against their eardrum and creates painful pressure. (Or something like that; IANAD) We also know antibiotics will make ear infections go away, and ibuprofen and acetaminophen can address the symptoms, and overall it makes it somehow more bearable to be up half the night with a squalling infant if you know, definitively, what the problem is and that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

But the pediatrician said no ear infection was to blame this time. In fact, the doctor couldn't find a single thing wrong with the baby. Nor could we. No bumps in his mouth to indicate some major teething going on, no unusual lack of diaper-filling to indicate lower GI distress, no recent craziness (beyond the usual) to cause stress. Nada. Just a sudden and inexplicable hatred of the very concept of overnight sleep.

With no new strategy to guide us, we tried to make the best of things Monday night, and there may have been some slight improvement. I went back to work on Tuesday, but still felt a bit out of it, hence the lack of a post. Tuesday night went better, and last night better still, almost back to normal. I don't want to jinx things, but it feels like the worst has passed. The next few nights should either prove or disprove that, at any rate.

Oh and also, poor-neglected-middle-child little girl is still two years old, and she had a couple of epic wobblies at bedtime herself, which was NOT HELPFUL. But she has also gotten better. So it's been stormy, but the skies may well be clearing. Here's hoping.

Finally, I was working on finishing a personal project over the past couple of days, which occupied essentially all of the time and mental energy I might normally devote to the blog, so that's another reason why there wasn't even a post yesterday. My side of the project is now done, though, so here I am. As far as what the project is, again, I don't want to jinx anything at this stage. But when I am at liberty to elaborate on it I will be more than happy to do so.

OK, we are all caught up! I'm already looking forward to next week being predictable and uneventful. (Which is probably pushing my luck on the whole not-jinxing-things front. Ah, well.)

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