Our oldest son, Mr. Man, has been ailing since Friday. We have a 72 hour rule about calling the pediatrician for non-emergency illnesses; in other words, we give it three days, and if the sickness hasn’t resolved, we call the best kid doc in all the land. By Sunday evening, the poor wee guy had suffered through three days of a yo-yo fever, much crankiness, disrupted sleep, and what appeared to be a painful left ear, among other less mentionable unpleasantnesses. Luckily, our pediatrician has a terrific answering service, so when I called this morning, the receptionist already knew why I was calling and asked me simply, “What time can you get here? We’ll see you then.”
Thankfully, Nonno and Deedaw (my husband’s parents), at whose house we were having dinner when it became evident that the 72 hours had expired and I called the after-hours line, rearranged their day to ride herd on Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy for a couple of hours, so I would not have to corral four tiny people in the sick child waiting room. It’s always entertaining to convince a couple of preschoolers that it’s unwise to play tag with the boy who has multicolored rivers flowing from his nostrils, and I was grateful for the assist. The ladies were overjoyed to have an opportunity to show off their mad Play-Doh skills for their paternal grandparents (I love them too much to inflict the stuff on them in their own house), and Baby Guy is always happy to see them, so I bundled up a mopey Mr. Man and headed off.
The always-sympathetic nurse called us back almost immediately. She knows I usually travel with the entire tribe, she explained, and she had not wanted to leave us out with the sick kids, particularly if Baby Guy was around. The occasions for gratitude that fill my days are beyond numbering. We discovered that Mr. Man has attained the lofty height of 33 1/2 inches, and gave up trying to weigh him as a bad job when he kept trying to jump the four feet from the scale to the floor. Our best guess is somewhere between 25 and 30 pounds. When the good doctor came in a few minutes later, he took a moment to enjoy the laughter. After running down the symptoms, the good doctor agreed with my hypothesis that my son had fallen prey to an ear infection, which was confirmed when I held an agile little bundle of squirm on the examining table long enough for the doc to check his ears. He cleaned out the ear that had a little discharge, after which I picked up Mr. Man and hugged him until his ear-splitting protestations ceased. Thereafter, Mr. Man and I left, my anxiety relieved by the doctor’s assurances, Mr. Man’s by a green lollipop.
The reason I believe our pediatrician is a living saint is that he is always genuinely happy to see our little blessings en masse, and was actually a little downcast that the other three stayed home.
Later that day, after prescriptions and lunch had been procured and Nonno and Deedaw relieved of duty with many hugs, kisses, and thanks, a dispute broke out between Bugaboo and Beanie over some plaything or other. It was quite the conflict; from the kitchen, I could hear the sort of invective that only preschoolers can hurl with a straight face, punctuated the the sound of hurled objects striking walls. My general philosophy on that sort of thing is that if they’re not actually drawing blood, they can settle it among themselves; since they share a room, they’re going to have to learn to work things out. Mr. Man, who was hanging out with Baby Guy and I in the kitchen, decided to go have a look. Curious to see what he would do, I poked my head into the hallway that leads to the girls’ room.
He was trying to tiptoe down the hallway, I think, but his toe-walking skills are not nearly as developed as his pushing-chairs-to-the-counter-to-get-what-Mommy-said-I-couldn’t-have skills, so he was sort of stomping down the hall on the balls of his feet. When he arrived at his sisters’ door, he paused and watched for a moment, cocking his head from side to side, then very deliberately walked over to the door and shook his head and his left index finger at them. Cheerfully, he called out, “Bye-bye!” as he shut their door, then came back to the kitchen to see if he could cadge a handful of shredded cheese from the pizzas I’d been making.
The kerfuffle stopped within seconds.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for little blessings who, themselves, teach by example from time to time. Help me remember that, sometimes, if someone is determined to be hostile and unpleasant, the best thing I can do is to wave goodbye and close the door. There is a temptation, Lord, to try to talk other people out of hostile words and actions, instead of setting a pacific example. Please help me show Your blessings that when a person is determined to say no to You, it is wiser to walk away from him or her.