Greetings. Welcome to the new year. I hope it is a good one for you and your's. I also hope that your holiday was a good one as mine was conjured from the blackest pits of hell. What, pray tell, could cause such problems over this, the gloriousest of holiday vacations? Why, a sick child, that's what. And not just a sick child, but a SICK child. Come with me as I spin a tale of woe, but be warned for here there be monsters.
Before we get started, I should point out some things, things that every parent knows but are loathe to admit. The reason for me doing this is that Greg, a blogger whose work I have come to enjoy, and his tastefully named wife Linda, are expecting their first child in summer of this year. This being the case, I feel it my responsibility to lift the curtain from their eyes so that they can see the truth of what they can expect from the years ahead. No longer will I live in this code of silence perpetuated by fellow parents with the hopes of ensnaring other child free couples into our web of shared misery! No longer!
First, and this really shouldn't come as any surprise, but children have a tendency to ruin everything. OK, not necessarily everything, but most things, and certainly the important things. It's not really their fault, most of the time, it just happens. It happened when you were a kid, and it will happen with your own kids, or has already happened. I remember putting my arm through our front door's window the day before we were going on vacation and requiring 15 stitches on two cuts. This required us to have to find a doctor in Cape Cod who could remove the stitches, causing my mom to almost pass out in said doctor's office in the process. While we could still go on vacation, I dare say it was pretty damn close to being ruined. If you have an event, or a vacation, or you just want to go out with the family for a change of pace and have a nice dinner, invariably, someone will get sick, or fall off of the roof or just act like crazed monkey children in the restaurant and get you slapped with a restraining order. It's the universe's way of testing the boundaries of your love for your children. It also helps keep all of those boarding schools open as parents give up in fits of exhaustion and pack their kids off to be raised by strangers. Good luck Timmy, see you in June.
The reason that parents are so insistent on their kids having kids is because they know what's coming, and they want revenge for having all of their activities ruined for 18+ years. No one really wants grandkids, they just want to hear about how their grandchild ruined their son's/daughter's vacation/holiday/ski trip. I know I can't wait to hear about how little Abby junior threw up all over Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner I missed because Linda and I were vacationing in New Zealand. Similarly, people with kids naturally want others to share in their misery, so they want their child free friends to have kids too. I say nuts to that. The world doesn't need more people, and I like to think that someone is having a holiday not tinged with unhappiness.
The other thing is that the simple act of you commenting on how well things are going is enough to cause it to all come crashing down around you. Maybe this is just something with our family, but if either Linda or I notice some positive aspect of the children's behaviour, and we comment on it to each other, sure as the sun rises in the morning, that behaviour will change. Case in point, we had a good couple of weeks where Abby was sleeping fine and not getting up in the night. Linda says "it's nice that Abby sleeps through the night now" and that night she was up like every half hour and we haven't had a stretch of more than two good sleeping nights in a row since. I have tried to tell her that our words have power so we shouldn't abuse that but does she listen? Noooooooo! After all, what do I know? She says that she likes to say nice things about the kids. My response is that you can say nice things, you just have to be careful. You can say that they're nice kids, good kids, good looking kids, smart kids, creative kids, whatever. You just can't say something like "I'm glad none of the kids have held up any liquor stores" because if you do, our 4 year old will be picked up that night for trying to knock off the Beverage Mart.
Which brings us to our story. Abby has a long, proud history of getting sick every time family comes to visit (see everything, ruining of). Usually she gets sick a few days before they arrive so that she's well into it by the time they get here. This time, as of Thursday night, she hadn't, which led Linda to utter the fateful words "It's good Abby didn't get sick for your mom and sister's visit." At that point, I knew we were doomed. "Why would you say that?", I said. She brushed off my concerns, but I knew that the die had been cast and we would come up big losers.
Sure enough, Friday morning, not only is Abby miserable but she has an elevated temperature. Linda kept her home for a little bit to make sure she was OK. Once Abby was behaving like her normal self, Linda brought her to school. We went to the airport, got my mom and sister, had lunch and all was well until daycare called at 3:30 saying Abby had a temperature of 103. Yikes. It was on, 'til the crack of dawn.
Over the next few days Abby's temperature would range from a normal temp in the 98's up to a high somewhere in the 102's. Sometimes she was irritable, sometimes she was fine. Every night she was up screaming around 10PM and then later on around 1 or 2 in the morning. Fun!
On Tuesday, a day in which Linda and I had planned on bringing the kids to daycare so that we could enjoy a day of shopping and eating out with my mom and sister, we brought Abby to the doctor instead as, at this point, she had had a fever for going on 5 days now. There she was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease and we were told that she should be over it in no time as that particular virus only lasts for 5 days max. Also, she was showing signs of the blisters that come with the disease which means it was on the outs.
On Wednesday her fever was worse than before, and then her eardrum exploded. Yes, you read that right. One moment she was fine, the next she was screaming and a bloody discharge was coming out of her ear. We thought that maybe she had a blister in her ear and it broke, but when Linda brought her to the doctor and the doctor took a look, the ear drum was perforated. Apparently, sometimes kids will get really fast, aggressive ear infections and the ear drum blows from all of the pressure. Ooookay. The doctor also noticed a rash on Abby that's usually indicative of sepsis so she had to get a whole mess of blood work done, and get two big antibiotic shots, one in each leg.
On Thursday, her fever was gone, and she was fine, but a little irritable until one point in the morning when she collapsed screaming for like 20 minutes straight and was completely unconsolable. As this was a symptom of further trouble to look for, Linda brought her back to the doctor. The doctor called the Center for Infectious Diseases to make sure Abby didn't have some strange jungle virus (she doesn't) and Abby got more antibiotic shots. The rash was still there, but hadn't spread, which pretty much ruled out sepsis, and the CID said that sometimes when kids get the flu, or other viruses, they can get the rash. The doctor said that it's possible she got the flu, plus the hand foot thingy, plus an ear infection, plus some other unknown infection. When this kid gets sick, she gets sick.
On Friday she was somewhat irritable but no fever, no exploding parts and she was eating more.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday found her more irritable than usual and with a slightly elevated temperature which we attribute to the fact that she's cutting her last tooth. Not the most convenient time for this tooth to make an appearance as the elevated temperature made us think she was having a relapse, but given that she's a) still on antibiotics, b) in a much better mood, c) eating normally and d) showing the signs of the tooth protruding from the gum, we're taking it as business as usual for a teething child. This is a good thing as neither one of us could take any more of her being sick, and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to be sick any more either.
It's dissappointing that all of my holiday vacation was taken up by a sick child, and that Linda's holiday vacation was taken up by getting ready for Christmas and then a sick child, but it has taught me a valuable lesson, which is to never, ever, ever save up all of your vacation until the end of the year. It's better to spread it out over the calendar year so that your kids can get sick once per season. In fact, it's probably better to never take any time off at all. While it means you'll never take a vacation, it also means that your kids will never get sick. Once the kids are in school, rather than daycare, I think we'll be able to take time off as long as it corresponds to their breaks, as kids rarely get sick and wreck their own shit.
All in all, I'm glad that Abby is feeling better and glad that the break is over. I'm hesitant to say that now we can all just be normal for fear that the bubonic plague is just waiting to come back in one of my children. Instead I'll say that I'm glad the Earth is still orbiting the sun. That way, if that changes as a result of these words, at least I'll take all of you down with me.
Happy New Year!