Ever since this winter season began, I was counting down the days to when Olivia would get sick again. It was only a matter of time before she came down with a cold, a sinus infection or something potentially worse: a virus that made her cheerful, throw less tantrums and completely eradicated bossiness from her body. I swear our child is so bossy these days (all together now: "How bossy is she?") that she spends them wearing a white suit with matching cowboy hat, writes music about where she was born and calls everyone around her 'Angeler.' She's well over her bossy quota for the year, and I believe I just hit my quota for pop culture references in one blog post.
About two weeks ago Olivia developed a cough that we ended up taking her to the doctor for. He determined that it was mainly allergies, and had us give her a mixture of cough syrup and antihistamene to try and alleviate it. Unfortunately Olivia despises taking most medicines (except for Advil) and will flail around, turn her head, throw her fingers up into a mock crucifix and do pretty much anything she can to avoid them. In order to combat this we've had to take up a team approach: I hold Olivia's arms down and position her head up while Jodi administers the meds and comforts her afterwards. While effective, it feels like this approach is creating some distance between Olivia and I. As usual, I'm the bad cop in this scenario and Jodi is there to save her from my tyrrany. Honestly though, the only other way I can see us giving her meds seems a little...excessive to me.
The cocktail seemed to be doing an ok job of surpressing her cough, but then she developed a low grade fever and started rambling about wanting to take a trip to Kokomo. She had been putting her fingers in her mouth here and there, and we knew her 2 year molars were coming in soon, so we figured that was the issue. However that theory was somewhat debunked when her fever spiked to 102 degrees. The weird thing was, she'd have a normal temp in the morning and be playful, then in the afternoon it would spike and all she'd want to do is either sleep or binge watch Univision (she's a sucker for a good telenovela). I took Olivia back to the doctor and he advised that we should up the dosage on the cocktail, since her cough wasn't any better, and he gave me antibiotics to tackle the fever and sinusitis he said she had. He thought the fever would go down in 24 hours, and that we could wait to see if that happened or give her the antibiotics that day.
We ended up waiting, hoping that the fever would break, but no luck. So with fingers crossed, we dosed her and watched for some signs of recovery. We were a bit anxious to see her get better, not only because we just wanted her well, but because we were supposed to attend a wedding that weekend and my parents were going to drive 12 hours (each way) just to watch her for the night we would be gone. My parents have done this before for us, and I have to say it's pretty damn cool of them. They get to see their grandchild, Olivia gets to act all sweet & innocent for them while making us look like complete liars and we get to spend some time away together. On top of that, my 38th birthday was happening the day after the wedding and I was really, really, really, really, really, really looking forward to sleeping in. Really.
The day before the wedding, it seemed like the antibiotics were doing the trick. How did we know? Because our child was starting to get some of her cranky, bossy attitude back. The thing about recovering toddlers, or maybe it's just ours, is that they're kind of assholes. They can't quite articulate how they feel so they whine about every little thing, they want everything and nothing all at the same time, they don't want to sit still and rest anymore because they've been doing that too much already and they will not let you get outside of a 3 foot radius of them. Come to think of it that's how Olivia normally acts, so maybe she was completely cured in one dose. Who knows?
So now our problem was: did we still have my parents come and take care of baby girl, or tell them to not bother and just stay home with her ourselves? Was it worth it for them to drive all that way if Olivia wouldn't want to be around them? When you're sick you want to be comforted, and when you're a sick child you want that comfort coming from one person, and one person only: your mom. On top of that, I had just bought a new suit and shoes for this wedding (and another in May), so it seemed like a waste if it didn't get put to good use. So we had to go with option C: we all get out of the house for the weekend, but only I get to go to the wedding. The girls would stay in the comfort of the hotel, while I went out and suffered through an evening of loooking like a dapper motherfucker and enjoyed free booze and food with friends. Ok fine, I'd take one for the team.
We got to the hotel and all three of us settled in. Jodi and I unpacked toiletries, our clothes and other necessities. Olivia opened drawers, discovered how to turn the clock radio on and off repeatedly, used the room phone to the point of our needing to unplug it and confirmed our fears that we didn't bring enough stufff to keep her occupied. Luckily there was a Target nearby and we had time to kill, so we hightailed it over there to stock up. Every twist and turn of the store held more and more things Olivia wanted. Each step of the way was filled with the sounds of her saying, "I want dis one" and, "Gimme that." I did my best to keep my cool and not give in, all the while wondering how much longer we would stay and if we should consider changing our child's name to Veruca. We managed to escape both our child's desires and Target's siren-like call to max out our credit cards while there by only purchasing some crayons, coloring books and a few other odds and ends (25 Blu-ray Discs that were on sale, 10 sets of plastic dining ware by a featured designer Jodi admired and every last Reese's peanut butter egg they had in stock).
The wedding was awesome (sorry Jodi). The reception? Awesomer. Let me tell you that any reception that has The Eagles of Death Metal, Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest playing in the mix is aces in my book. I was sad that Jodi couldn't be there, not only because I wanted her to share the experience with me, but also because I was flying solo at a table full of couples. I was kindly given the nickname "Third Wheel" and introduced as such to almost everyone I met. At first it sucked because I felt like I was holding my friends back by being too clingy, but the copious amounts of free beer remedied that pretty quickly. The only time I really felt out of place was when people started talking about travel, and getting from Point A to Point B (quite honestly, I'm TERRIBLE with directions). I've recently noticed that people in New York and the surrounding areas take pride in not only knowing how to get somewhere, but the most effective way of doing so on any day of the week. If you bring up the fact that you visited the zoo recently, they'll ask you how you got there. The emphasis isn't so much on how the experience was, but whether you took the right route and avoided traffic effectively. So you can imagine how challenging it was for me when I hit the appetizers at the reception and came back to the table. "How did you get to the carving station? Oh, you went to the left of the guy with the blue tie? You should have totally went right, took Exit Mother-in-Law, dog-legged left past the painting of the flowers in the vase and avoided that whole mess. You could have been there and back in under 2 minutes." Luckily for me all of our discussions weren't about this topic, and I was even able to connect with a couple I'd only met once before. They have a child who is 2 months younger than Olivia and we traded plenty of war stories about our parenting experiences. There's nothing like having kids with similar temperaments that can help break the ice with relative ease.
The night ended with me creeping into our hotel room at 1:30 in the morning. I'd had a great time, enjoyed catching up with our friends and even got all three of us invited to a post-wedding lunch with the bride and groom. Then at 7 a.m., on the 38th anniversary of my birth, our child let the world know that she had awoken. It started with her demanding juice, which we normally don't give her until later in the day, followed by a tantrum because she was only offered milk. Jodi mentioned to Olivia that it was my birthday and that she should sing to me for the occasion, which she normally loves to do. Olivia conjures up her best Julie Andrews impression and firmly says, "No!" After about 30 minutes of working to calm her down, trying to stop her from drawing all over the hotel furniture with crayons and wondering just how many people were calling the front desk to complain about us, we decided we should skip the lunch and just head back home. We were once again "those people" that you never, ever want to be when you're out in public with a child. I have so much more empathy for parents I see in these kinds of situations when I'm out and about, and I know I have miles to go before I manage to stop feeling insecure and can handle myself, and my child, with confidence.
The drive back went about as well as expected. Olivia finally wanted to sing happy birthday (her version: "haaaappy da-bird-day to you...") to me, and then to Jodi and then to herself. Then she wanted Jodi and I to take turns doing the same, followed by all of us taking turns blowing out fake candles and eating fake cake. We got home, rode out the rest of the weekend as best we could and determined that she seemed well enough to go back to daycare that Monday. In the end, my birthday was a mixed bag. Turning 38 wasn't really a big weight or worry on my mind, but my child's health certainly was. I was thankful that she was finally feeling better and could get back into her usual routine. I was thankful that she missed another outbreak of lice at her daycare that apparently happened the week she was out sick. And last, but not least, I was glad that I had the forethought to take that following week off from work to do nothing but watch movies, play video games, drink beer and recover from these prior events. Best birthday present to myself ever!