Carlos has been sick this week in that special confounding way that small children do. He spiked a fever on Monday afternoon and had to leave school early, but after one squirt of Motrin he was chasing the cat around and giggling madly. I stayed home with him all day Tuesday and felt like a real dummy because he was FINE. We jumped on the trampoline, played in the sandbox, ate black grapes and dried apple chips in the sunshine, and we didn’t take a nap.
Then five minutes after the urgent care place closed, he reached up and touched his right ear gently and said, “Mommy, hurt. Ouch.” After a couple of hours of misery, his ear drum burst and the fever came raging back. Ear infections are such assholes. He spent the whole night suffering and I did too, right beside him. Little ones get sick in the blink of an eye. But they get better just as quickly. Hopefully they do.
This is the first time that Carlos has been sick since he really started talking. “Ouch.” “Carlos hurts, Mommy.” “Carlos not want medicine.” It’s always hard to see your child suffering, but it’s really difficult when they are old enough to communicate to you how bad they feel, but not old enough to understand how swallowing that yucky medicine is going to make their ear feel better. Or why the kindly doctor needs to ram a swab in that pitiful ear to take a culture specimen. Three-year-olds inhabit a very immediate world. The hurt is right here, right now, but the healing is some other place, days away, down a strange path of jabs and glop and ointments. He must think we are crazy to do these things to him.
And today? He’s back to being his old self. After dinner, when he told me that he didn’t want to take his medicine, I said, “I hear you. I understand you don’t like it. But Dr. Setia said that’s the best way to get your ear to feel better. It won’t be for much longer.” And dang if the little man didn’t sit there and take his glop and jabs and ointment like a champ. We only had to chase him down the hall once and there was no hog-tying involved whatsoever.
These moments of parenting remind me of what my sister said about doing a med school rotation in the Emergency Department: “It’s hour after hour of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer chaos and panic.” Yep.