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How to Scare Your Parents

One week after I posted the last chapter (and, incidentally, just as my wife and I were starting to catch up on our sleep), Theron woke up at 11:30 on a Saturday night with a bad, bad cough. I had actually left the house, and by the time I came back he doing a little better. Of course, "better" in this case means that he was just wheezing, heavily, every time he exhaled or inhaled. Apparently the sound that sent the Beautiful Woman into his room was a cough that sounded like a barking seal.

As parents, we don't panic very easily. We didn't panic when he bit his lip and was bleeding; we didn't panic when he fell off the couch (I blame Barack Obama for that one*); we didn't panic when he drank the hydrogen peroxide and threw up all over the floor**. And, to our credit, we didn't panic this time, either. Still, given Theron's early history, anything that sounds as if there's something wrong with his lungs... well, that sort of thing presses down hard on the big red button near the bottom of my soul. You know, the one labeled "FEAR". It's the sort of fear that could easily become panic if we let it.

As I said, I returned from a half-hour (if that) trip to the video store to find: our toddler awake and wheezing; my wife calling the pediatrician's after-hours line; and my mother-in-law comforting Theron. This is not a recipe for a restful night's sleep.

My wife had already given the Podling a dose of decongestant. We used the shower in the back bathroom to make steam, and put Theron in there to breathe it. The pediatrician's office called back, and basically told us that if he didn't improve, or if he did the barking-seal thing again, we should take him to the emergency room. Otherwise, we could wait until the morning and take him to one of the urgent care places. The fact that the nurse approved of what we'd already done was a tremendous relief.

So the next morning I took the Podling over to Acute Kids. This is the second time we've been there (the first time, they diagnosed him with strep), and so far I've been very impressed. They looked him over and said "Croup. Very common this time of year." They gave me a prescription for a steroid to help loosen up his lungs, and an information sheet to help explain what was going on and what non-medical things we could do to help him along.

Then I went to get the prescription filled.

The fact that you're having a bad day does not entitle you to be a jerk

Theron practices his super-hero poses.

Let me set the scene, here: I have brought the Podling from the doctor to the pharmacy. The prescription is not quite ready yet, so I have parked the car, picked up the toddler, and gone inside. After a few minutes of wandering around inside the pharmacy (with Theron leaning his head on my shoulder and looking puny), I go back to the counter and pick up his medicine. I am sleep deprived and a little sick myself: not at my best, in other words.

So I go outside, carrying the baby in one arm and the meds in the other, and discover that there is a very large, black Suburban parked crossways behind my car, completely blocking me in. A harried-looking woman (of the Frazzled North American Soccer Mom variety***) is unloading her daughter, who - at a glance - looks to be maybe ten years old. This is not important, because I am still carrying Theron and trying to dig my keys out of my pocket without dropping his medicine.

I get the door open, put Theron in his car seat, drop the medicine packet in the passenger seat, and strap the Podling in place. Then I straighten, and look at the Suburban again. It's still there. Now it's a problem, because I'm still trying to this finished in time to meet one of my old friends for a congratulatory drink. (They recently announced that they're pregnant - congrats again, guys!)

Meanwhile, another woman has come out of the pharmacy and stopped beside the driver's door of the car next to me. She is also looking at the Suburban, because the benighted thing is blocking her in, too. The driver is not immediately evident; the vehicle is empty. "Should we find the owner?" asks my new companion.

I'm a bit bleary; I'm not sure if I actually answered. But I went around the front of the Suburban, and found a woman standing beside another (slightly smaller) SUV - a jeep or something**** on the far side. The jeep (or whatever) was actually parked in a parking spot, wonder of wonders. Deducing (correctly) that she was the missing driver, I came up behind her and said, "Hiiii. Could we get the Suburban out of the Fire Lane?"

The woman kind of glanced at me and said, "Just a minute." She was still trying to talk to whoever was inside the jeep-thing. At a guess, I suspect the jeep's driver was her ex-husband, and she was turning their daughter over to him; it certainly looked like that sort of scenario.

I said, "...Because you're blocking two of us in, and the only way to get our cars out is through your vehicle."

Then I turned away and went back to my car. I have no idea what my expression looked like, but I've been told that at times like this I look like I'm about to bite someone. The other woman, whose car was trapped along with mine, asked: "Did she really just say, 'Wait a minute?'"

"You know," I told her, "I haven't run into anyone today... but the day is still young."

And she, bless her heart, said: "No, no, no. Let's use my car. It's heavier."

A moment later the owner of the Suburban jumped in her vehicle and drove off. She didn't burn rubber, but she wasn't exactly dawdling, either.

I'd still love to know what made her think it was a good idea to park like that in the first place. She was probably having a bad day, but she could have avoided some extra grief by parking, y'know, in an actual parking space. (Not to mention making my day a bit easier.) It strikes me as a clear case where being selfish is genuinely, obviously counterproductive.

Sleeping through the night (third attempt? fourth? ninth?)
Theron is now fully recovered. My wife is still trying to catch up on her sleep; I expect her to succeed any year now. I am not trying to catch up on my sleep. Instead, I am trying to train the Juggernaut to sleep through the night.

He has a good bedtime routine: we feed him around 8:30 p.m., bathe him, read him a few books, brush his teeth, and put him to bed. He usually complains loudly for a few minutes, and then falls asleep. Unfortunately, he wakes back up somewhere between about 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. and wants his mom to take him out to the Big Pink Chair.

This, of course, results in less sleep for her - and in particular, in less uninterrupted sleep for her. Apparently, the sleep you get while sitting upright in a chair with a toddler moving around in your lap just isn't as good as the sleep you get while lying in bed. It probably isn't a good habit for the Boobelly, either, since it requires him to wake up in the middle of the night. Frankly, the more sleep my wife and child get, the happier my life is likely to be, so it isn't really good for any of us.

Which brings us back, once again, to our recurrent attempts to break him of the habit of waking up in the middle of the night.

The strategy here is simple. When he wakes up, I go into his room. I give him a sip of water, pat him on the back, and put him back down in his crib. Then I leave. This is supposed to encourage him to go back to sleep on his own, but without making him feel abandoned.

You'll note that while I keep saying that "we" are trying to do this, it's definitely the Royal We. The Beautiful Woman does not go into his room; that only encourages him. Her role in this project is to wear earplugs, so she doesn't gather up the baby and head for the Big Pink Chair in her sleep.

All the Not Sleeping parts of this plan are, of course, my job.

"Od-tee" part 2
Theron's interest in hot tea has developed from a phrase into a full-blown obsession. When he says "od-tee", he isn't just identifying it: he's asking for some. He also uses the hand-sign for "milk" to ask for tea (or milk, but it's less confusing than you might think).

Fortunately, he has his own tea cup.

Last spring, when Theron was much smaller, I took him down to a renaissance faire. He was his usual charming self, and since it was the last day of the faire (and I'd just bought a couple of fairly expensive items), the woman in the pottery stall threw in a miniature mug. It's maybe an inch and a half tall, and an inch or so across: a little smaller than a shot glass.

It fits him perfectly.

His usual method of drinking is to dip his mug into his mother's tea (usually decaf Chai with a lot of milk). Using both hands, he lifts it carefully to his mouth, and drinks it in little sips. When he's finished, he scoops up another cup and drinks that. When he's really finished, he refills his cup and then pours it out on the floor (or, almost as often, on himself). Words don't really do justice to the cuteness of the whole thing, so here are some pictures.

Image Image Video
(with sound)

* One of his staffers had me on the phone and was trying to get me to donate more money. I was having trouble getting her to understand that in spite of having made a donation earlier, I was not actually a Democrat or a Barack-specific supporter. (Actually, I've thrown a little money at several different candidates, based entirely on their saying things that I feel need to be said.) This was why I was not watching Theron as closely as I should have been.

My actual political inclinations are more in line with the Scorched Earth Party.

** I realize I haven't written about this, but there isn't much to tell. It was an inch or so of three-day old hydrogen peroxide, which had been poured into a plastic cup so I could fill a dropper. Theron was wandering around drinking anything that happened to be in a cup, and found it. By the time we got him to the pediatrician's office (it was a weekday, so they were open), he'd barfed it all out of his system and was starting to feel better. (I blame sleep deprivation for this one - I remember getting the stuff out, but I have no memory at all of actually pouring it into that cup. There isn't anything else it could have been, though.)

*** Scientifically known as Upper-classicus Grumpissimus, suborder Bad-hairicus.

**** I can't tell vehicles apart. I don't recognize most of the logos, don't know the names of different models of cars or trucks, and for the most part couldn't care less. I realize that admitting this will probably result in the union revoking my Man card, but oh well...