Thursday, April 23, 2015

Side effects

A while back I think I mentioned around here that there was a game my wife and I played, seeing how many "looks like you got your hands full!"s we could collect whenever one of us went out in public solely responsible for all three kids. (Ah yes, here it is, most of the way down the post after all the Buzz Lightyear drama.) The game had actually fallen by the wayside recently, apparently as a function of the kids' ages. The bino is no longer a wee thing in a bucket carseat propped across the handle of the shopping cart, but rather a feisty toddler who points at things on the shelves and shouts out their names, while the little guy and little girl carry on conversations of their own. At best nowadays I might get some variation on "Oh, you've got lots of helpers today!" when the four of us were at Costco, and really that sentiment is kind of the exact opposite of "got your hands full." Not a complaint, exactly, just an observation.

I did get my first "got your hands full" in a long while yesterday, though. My wife was at work and I was home with all three kids. The little girl had been running a fever for a few days and couldn't go to daycare, not to mention not sleeping well at night and being generally listless during the day. The little guy had recently been on antibiotics for strep and on about day 7 (this Monday) had broken out in hives so bad that the elementary school called my wife to come pick him up. He was back in school on Tuesday because the hives had cleared up, but they re-emerged Tuesday night and were still there Wednesday morning. And the bino was fine as froghair, but it seemed pointless to drop him off at daycare (where, let's be honest, the odds of him catching some new random ailment would be pretty high) when I was going to be home, if not actively annoying because at some point in the afternoon or evening I'd have to run the two older siblings back over to daycare to pick him up. So all three kids got a day home with daddy, including an 11 a.m. visit to the pediatrician to see if the cause of the little girl's fever could be determined and if the little guy's rash was an allergic reaction or viral or what.

The nurse practitioner deemed it prudent to test both the little guy and little girl for strep; the little guy because we had discontinued the antibiotics without finishing the course once he got the hives, and the little girl because even though she didn't really have a sore throat or nausea you never know and better safe than sorry. Couldn't hurt, right? Except that my kids HATE the strep test. And I don't really blame them, because having someone swab the back of your throat is no one's idea of a good time, plus the kids have fairly sensitive gag reflexes (so do I, come to that) and it's just a traumatic experience which they react exceedingly poorly to, freaking out and fighting it and all that. As it happened, the little girl was already sitting on my lap when it came time to obtain the sample, and I managed to immobilize her while the nurse swabbed, and I was still trying to comfort her and calm her down afterwards when it was the little guy's turn, and he went full-on crazy trying to resist, so I was trying to wrestle him into submission with one hand while balancing the little girl on the opposite knee with my other hand. The bino was just running around the exam room amusing himself at this point, but it added a certain chaotic spice to the overall proceedings. Hence the nurse's "you've got your hands full today, huh?" I didn't argue the point.

The quick test was negative for strep for both kids, for what it's worth.

The rest of the day was much more low-key, except for a slight freakout reprise in the evening when the little girl discovered that she hated the taste of the antibiotic she was prescribed (turned out she had an ear infection). That must have used up a lot of her energy, because she climbed into my bed while I was overseeing her big brother's shower and her little brother's bath, and when it was her turn she was out cold. I transferred her to her bed, where she slept in her clothes, but she's four and her usual outfit of leggings and t-shirt is almost indistinguishable from pajamas anyway. I'm pretty sure one morning my wife got the little girl out of the pajamas she had slept in, got her into underwear and a different pair of pajama pants, and sent her off to daycare, and the operative phrase there is "ONE morning" because if I were responsible for getting the kids to daycare in the mornings I'm sure the little girl would have gone in pajama bottoms at least a half a dozen times.

The nice thing was that I was able to get the little girl into her own bed and leave her in relative peace because her bed is now located in her very own room. While I've been slacking off on the blog lately, on the homefront we did manage to pull off the Great Room Switch which involved repainting both of the kids' bedrooms, moving all of the little guy's stuff into the bigger room with the bino, and moving all of the little girl's stuff into the smaller room where she can have a little privacy for however much longer we live in this house (I give it about three years). There had been some building tension with the little girl and the bino sharing a room ever since the bino started protesting going to bed at the same time as his siblings, which would result in him crying or outright tantruming and keeping his sister/roommate unhappily awake. We were hoping that putting the boys together would be a win-win, because the little girl could go to sleep without a crying toddler across the room, and actually the toddler might not cry that much at all anymore, because he could talk (or babble) with his big brother, whom he gets along with a tiny bit better. Heck, we wouldn't have minded if the boys snuck out of their beds to the middle of the floor to play in the glow of the nightlight, or if the bino crawled into bed with the little guy, as long as whatever they did they were reasonably quiet about it and fell asleep eventually.

It didn't exactly work out that smoothly. The bino does indeed love invading his brother's bed, but he then proceeds to annoy his brother by taking up the middle of the mattress, messing with his brother's hair, yakking to himself after the little guy begs him to be quiet and go to sleep, &c. Not ideal since the little guy is the one child who not only has to get up five mornings a week at a certain time, but is also expected to have good behavior and attentive learning habits primed and ready to go each morning. It's been a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to make the new arrangement work for the boys. Funny enough, the little guy recently getting strep proved to be a weird blessing in itself. My wife and I decided, one of those first nights of the illness, to let the little guy fall asleep in our bed, while the bino went to sleep in his own bed. And lo and behold, turns out if the bino is all alone in the room he can fall asleep in his own bed just fine. An hour or so later, when both bino and little guy are sound asleep, we transfer the little guy from our bed to his own and the roomies sleep through the night. (More or less. Usually.) It's been a couple weeks and the little guy is feeling better and no longer really needs the isolation ward treatment, but we seem to have adopted this strategy as a semi-permanent solution. Maybe in a few weeks we will try to reintroduce the idea of them both going to sleep at the same time in their respective beds, once we've re-ingrained the habit for the littlest one. Then again, maybe one of them will catch some other new and interesting sniffle. Advanced planning is near enough to an exercise in futility at this point, really.

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