A year ago when Thomas started preschool he became part of a dinosaur loving triumvirate. Thomas, Jesse and Matthew did everything together. They ate lunch together, napped next to each other and, of course, played dinosaurs together. They were three horns on the same Triceratops.
A few weeks ago, Thomas and I were changing into our clothes after swim lessons. “Today was Matthew’s last day,” Thomas said.
Thomas and Jesse are best friends of the first order. As a part timer at the school Matthew was never quite as close to either Jesse or Thomas. Nonetheless, he was a vital part of the threesome. This was a big deal.
I looked up from tying my shoes and looked at Thomas. His arms hung straight at his side. He was staring at an empty spot next to me on the bench. Then he shifted his eyes to mine and said, “he was one of my best friends. I remember when ….” He paused. “So, first it was me and Jesse and then one day Matthew showed up and we were just always together. And now. He’s gone.”
Matthew was off to summer camp and then, ultimately, kindergarten. Kindergarten at a school different than Thomas’.
Today Thomas has less than two weeks left at school, but this Friday is Jesse’s last day. Like Matthew, he will be attending a different school than Thomas. Thomas talks about this almost everyday. He’s sad. I’m sad too.
I know that Thomas can see his two friends again. I know that there will be play dates and birthday parties. And even if those things don’t happen, one day this loss will be all but forgotten. More importantly, there will be new best friends, new gangs and new loves. Some will last a lifetime. Others will be short and sweet. All of that awaits him. I can’t wait to see him live it. And yet, to see this mighty threesome come to end, well, it breaks my heart.
I’m on an early train today so I can pick up the kids. Usually Liz gets them and then swings by the train station to get me before we all head home together. Today Liz is visiting her family in Santa Cruz.
Liz’s mom left the hospital about four weeks ago after an eleven week stay. It’s nothing short of a miracle considering how close she came to not coming home at all. So it was a long hoped for moment. Even so, she and the entire family still have a long way to go. In many ways this part is the hardest because now everyone has to confront the reality of a new normal. Life won’t be the same.
Liz is still trying to figure how she wants to balance her time and effort. We are trying to stay flexible. Like always, life goes on.
We celebrated our 12 anniversary yesterday. We took the kids to stay at my mother’s house and then enjoyed a 30 hour child free period together. After the stress of the last few months it was very good to reconnect. I wish we had more of that. I’ll try to make it happen more often.
Here comes my stop. More later. Maybe even soon.
Work. Stressful, frantic, hard work.
Kids. Small, busy, beautiful kids.
And life. Life is happening all over the place. Including a spectacular kick in the teeth, like life can only give it. My mother-in-law is sick. In intensive care. For five weeks now. You know that oil spill thing? Seems like forever now, doesn’t it? She doesn’t even know that happened.
It was sudden and unexpected. Not all that different than being struck by lightening, statistically speaking. It has been horrific. Substantially worse than being struck by lightening. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. And I’m no pacifist.
Liz has been away from the kids and I a lot. Sometimes racing off frantically, fearing the worst. Our routine has broken down completely. The easiest things have become difficult. The difficult things go undone.
I’ve been doing my best to keep the kids happy. It’s been working, for the most part. Yet with Thomas being Thomas, it has been impossible to hide from him. We’ve dealt with this the same way we deal with everything else; we’ve told him the truth. We haven’t made any promises we can’t keep. Even when he spontaneously voiced his concern that the worst might happen: “Sometimes, in my head, I think that grandma might die.”
Five weeks ago, just as this was starting, I watched Thomas have a complete meltdown because the wait staff at a restaurant threw his drawing away. (Jerks.) How would he handle losing one of his favorite people? How will I tell him?
And yet, it might not come to that. As bad as things have been, as bad as they could be, the doctors say a complete recovery is a real possibility. That six months from now this could be just a memory. (A really awful memory.) So we wait. We wait and hope. We wait and pray. And while we wait, life goes on.
I bought an iPad. Caroline loves it.
I signed Thomas up for league soccer. There will be uniforms. He’s extremely excited.
Thomas and Caroline have taken to dancing and singing along with “Jessie’s Girl”. Repeatedly. It’s cute. And repetitive.
I totally botched Mother’s Day. I’m an idiot.
Thomas is graduating from preschool this Friday. He’s extremely proud. I think it’s a bit silly.
And there’s more in the works. Always more.
That’s what’s happening.
Life. Crazy, awful, wonderful life.
T-rex eating a snack watching tv
and slipping to dance with the frog.
And nothing but cheetos
on the frog’s crown
and cheetos eating themselves.
Thomas likes to whisper crazy things to Liz and I to text to each other. I received this as a message tonight.
In Golden Boy Swears I mentioned that Thomas and I have taken up wrestling as part of his nightly routine. I’m fairly certain that this new activity was prompted by Thomas, although I can’t be entirely sure. Regardless, it’s interesting because most of the time Thomas is a very sweet and loving boy. (Except when he’s a mama Tyrannosaurus Rex looking for food. Then he can be quite fierce.) Yet during these wrestling sessions he is a maniac. He hurls his body around as though he is trying to seriously hurt me. And he does it with complete disregard for his own well being.
He likes me to be on my knees, where I’m slower and easier to wallop. He tries to flank me and then attack from behind. When he does this, he often comes tearing across the room at tremendous speed. I do the only sensible thing and duck while trying to find a happy place. Then he crashes into my back and his momentum carries him across my body so that he’s suddenly pitching over the other side. In these moments I have to suddenly switch from protecting myself to protecting him by catching him or slowing his fall.
So I spend these wrestling matches both trying to protect him while trying not to get my teeth kicked in. It’s not easy. I have learned that a swift kick to the ribs, when unexpected, can seriously hurt, even when delivered by a five year old. I have also learned that a five year old stomping on your back can actually feel quite good. And, I have learned that my head can withstand the thumping blows of a bouncing 40 pound weight.
This is one of those situations where I wonder, is this something all little boys do with their fathers? I wrestled plenty with my brother growing up. I suppose, for me, a lot of that was something I might have done with my dad. But I think wrestling with one’s brother has other elements as well. Like proving one’s dominance by delivering nuggies. (This is probably why I started balding so early in life. Jackass.)
It’s clear Thomas is getting something from these sessions. Maybe he’s getting out pent up feelings. Maybe he’s just acting on ancient instincts. Maybe he’s got patricidal urges. Whatever it is, I have no plans on stopping it anytime soon. It is has quickly become the highlight of my day. We both end up laughing in a heap at the end of each bout. Then he usually jumps up, kicks me in the ribs and yells, “GET OUT!”
It’s such a minor thing, really. All I did was swap out one background image for another. Oh, and I tweaked a few color settings.
Caroline, in her purple pajamas, with the purple peep, is there for a reason. So it’s still there. Probably always will be.
Anyway, it was time. For me.
I suppose it’s theoretically possible that you have 1) not read Charlotte’s Web and 2) don’t want the plot spoiled, so I will warn you now, I give away the major plot elements of the book in this post. So go somewhere else. Maybe you can go buy the book.
We first tried to read Thomas chapter books when he was three. It worked for about a week before he lost interest. He was too little to handle the long chapters full of nothing but words. He spent most of the time asking questions about the various pictures that were included at the beginning of each chapter. We put the book down and didn’t pick it back up again.
Recently we decided to try again. In retrospect it’s clear we could have come back to chapter books much sooner. It might have spared us many nights of reading and rereading long tedious books about dinosaurs. But then, Thomas’ love and knowledge of dinosaurs is one of his many endearing qualities. So perhaps it was all for the best. Either way, we returned to fiction chapter books by starting with the classic Charlotte’s Web. Where else, really?
We knew we were treading into unknown territory with this book. We weren’t sure how Thomas would react to the threat of death hanging over Wilbur’s head or the ultimate demise of his best friend. We knew that he could survive. We just didn’t know how much trauma the story would inflict.
The first sign of trouble came when the suggestion that Wilbur might be eaten for Christmas dinner was first made in the book.
“But he’s not going to get eaten,” Thomas said forcefully and then looked at me for confirmation. This is generally how Thomas confronts fear. When he says “but that won’t happen,” what he’s saying is, “I don’t want that to happen, I hope that doesn’t happen, please tell me that it won’t.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “We have to read the rest of the book to see what happens.”
And so we did. Of course, Wilbur does not die because Charlotte saves his life. Instead, it is Charlotte who dies. When Charlotte started to fatigue and it was suggested that her time was coming to an end, Thomas said, “but she’s not tired because she’s old. She’s just tired from the trip from the farm to the fair. Yeah, it was a long trip.”
This denial of what was clearly happening had Liz and I slightly worried about how Thomas would react when she finally died. The night we read the chapter in which Charlotte passes, he became very agitated as the chapter progressed. He squirmed and bounced about on our bed as Charlotte declared that she was “done for.” In the book, Wilbur is frantic when he realizes Charlotte is dying and will not return to the farm with him. He is desperate to get her egg sac so that he can take it with him back to the farm. He succeeds, with the help of Templeton the rat. He then is loaded into his crate. He says a silent goodbye to his friend and leaves her at the fairgrounds.
The chapter ends with a beautiful but very sad description of her death. The final sentence is, “No one was with her when she died.” As I read those words Thomas was quiet and still. I closed the book for a moment and turned to him and said, “what happened?”
“Charlotte died,” he said. “But Wilbur took her egg sac back to the farm.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“Well, it’s sad that Charlotte died, but it’s good that her babies won’t be born alone.”
It occurred to me, as I was writing my last post that I’ve been sharing quite a bit about my life here on this blog. Which is fine. But I think I may have left you hanging on a few occasions. So I thought I would use a post here to tie up some loose ends.
Back in November I wrote I’m Not Dying. I’m happy to report that this is still the case. My hypothyroidism is being controlled with medication. My energy levels are up. My weight is down. I have been sick only once in the past three months. If I should suddenly go silent, you can probably find out if I’m dead by visiting Childsplayx2. I’m sure he’d write a lovely, if slightly sappy, tribute to me in the event of my death.
In December I wrote Bumps in the Night, which chronicled Thomas’s sleepwalking adventures. I am happy to report that there have been no further sightings. I am hopeful that that period is behind us. The potential for repeats is there of course. If there should be a recurrence, I’ll most certainly write about it here.
Just last week I wrote Naked and Frustrated which discussed, in part, Caroline’s ill health. Well, Crazy Girl is fever and cough free and went back to daycare yesterday. She continues to take her antibiotics and steroids, and has a follow up appointment later this week. Thomas has contracted the same cold and is now suffering the same cough. He never developed any infections so is only taking the steroid for his lungs. He had an appointment today and was declared to be on the mend. No follow up is needed. He’ll keep taking the steroid until his cough stops, at which point we can discontinue. We hope to have healthy and prescription free children by the beginning of next week.
So, things here are good and getting better. My apologies if you were hoping for drama. Stay tuned. I’m bound to do something stupid very soon.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I said to Liz standing there in nothing but my underwear.
I’m always loud. Nearly always obnoxious. But I’m not a yeller. It doesn’t happen often, me yelling uncontrollably. When I yell it’s usually because I’m stuck in a stressful situation with no hope of resolution. As the stress folds over onto itself repeatedly, it creates this extremely uncomfortable frustration That frustration leads to intense agitation. So intense that the moment someone contributes to my stress in any way, I lash out. Then, instantly, I feel like an asshole. So I apologize. With a real apology, the kind that comes with no “but you” attached.
“I’m sorry you got puked on.” She doesn’t retaliate. She knows that even though I was yelling at her, it was really the situation.
This situation is that Caroline is sick. She started coughing Sunday night. Then on Monday she was sent home from daycare with a fever. She was extremely miserable that night. So on Tuesday she went to the doctor. Unfortunately her regular doctor isn’t in the office on Tuesdays. So the doctor available on Tuesday declared that her lungs were clear, her throat was clear, and her ears were clear, “come back on Thursday if the fever comes back.” She really was better that night, but Liz kept her with her while she worked from home yesterday. Then everything went downhill.
Diarrhea. A fever spiking to 103.9 under the arm. Back to the doctor, her regular doctor, who declared that she had “two raging ear infections and very congested lungs.” Particularly the lower right lung. Which was disconcerting because either the doctor from Tuesday should not be seen again, or this thing blew up really fast. Thankfully a nebulizer treatment cleared up the lungs. By the time the crew picked me up at the train station, Caroline was very happy.
After dinner, I gave her her perscriptions. Antibiotics for the ears and a steroid for the lungs. Then upstairs to get ready for bed. While Liz was poking at a splinter in Thomas’ finger Caroline started coughing. Caroline doesn’t handle coughing very well, and this fit ended with her puking a sizable amount of her medicine on our bed. Which was gross. I don’t like gross. So I yelled for Liz and we switched kids (after I cleaned her up). Then after an hour of Caroline dozing and hacking and moaning on Liz while her fever spiked again, I took Caroline back for only a moment while Liz said good night to Thomas.
In that moment Caroline decided to vomit again. First down the front of my shirt. Then down the back, for the sake of symmetry.
Liz hearing the commotion came running with a towel and caught a significant portion while standing behind me. Then Caroline leaned back in my arms moving away from my body. So Liz stepped back in the opposite direction. Then Caroline puked twice more down my front. This is when I yelled.
“WHY DID YOU TAKE THE TOWEL AWAY WHILE SHE WAS BARFING ALL OVER ME?!”
Not that it made a difference. I was already basted by the time she showed up with the towel. But I was frustrated.
Frustrated that we took her to the damn doctor yesterday when she wasn’t sick enough to warrant any treatment. Frustrated that this stupid cold got so much worse today after being better yesterday. Frustrated that I had to get updates from text messages while I was at work. Frustrated that we have three thermometers that gave three vastly different readings when used at the same time. Frustrated that she puked up all of the medicine she got last night. Frustrated that all we can do while she moans and cries and hacks and pukes is sit there and listen and be hacked and puked on.
And also, I really don’t like being puked on. Not even a little bit.