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Laughter Amid the Ruins

So Simon is sick again. Has been since Friday. I haven’t written about it yet because, honestly, this our fourth trip on the toddler illness merry-go-round and there’s nothing much new except this time no barfing has been involved, Simon’s fever peaked at around 104, and we didn’t get a bad diagnosis or a bad prescription from the emergency docs. We waited until yesterday, day 4, to go the doctor, and we went straight to Dr. Newstadt: no passing Go; no collecting unnecessary prescriptions.

So the last four days have assumed an unwelcome but all-too familiar pattern of forehead swiping, Advil and Tylenol dosing, general whininess, and interrupted sleep. Our house is littered with dosing cups the way it is usually and more happily littered with cars, and Simon has begun asking for “purple” (Dimetapp) the way he usually and more happily asks for cookies or gummi vitamins.

We are all-not least Simon-sick and tired of Simon’s being sick and tired.

Thankfully, Simon has provided some comic relief for us all. Yesterday at the doctor’s office we got out some books to kill time while they processed his blood sample and throat swab. Great favorites these days include Hippos Go Berserk and Do Princesses Count?* because Simon himself is learning to count. Typically, his counting is pretty random. He’ll greet two butterflies on one page by saying “One, two, buffly” but then respond to a page with ten bees by saying “One, two, fwee, fo, bee!” or maybe even “One, two, fwee, fo, pu-pul, bee!” It’s pretty funny.

Yesterday, though, sitting on my lap at the doctor’s office, exhausted and slightly anaemic from the illness, he counted straight from one to ten. I was really surprised! Not least of which because the page he was looking at had around five objects on it. But hey, who cares about accuracy? He counted all the way to ten!

The second incident happened at around 10:30 last night when shrill shrieks emanated from the nursery. I was downstairs hoping they would go away, and they would for about five to ten minutes at a time. Then I’d hear another shriek or two. Finally I heard a cluster and decided it was time to intervene.

We’ve done this the last three nights in a row, so I’m well familiar with the drill. We go in and talk to him, pick him up, take him into our room, turn out all the lights in our room but leave on the light in the hall, talk to him a bit, stroke his eyebrows, medicate if necessary, and then put him back to bed when he seems sufficiently relaxed. The whole drama plays out in about 20-45 minutes.

Resigned to things, I brought my tea upstairs, got our room ready, turned off and on the requisite lights, and walked into his room. Unlike most nights, Simon was still lying on his stomach. Also unlike most nights, he was lying on the book he insisted on taking to bed with him.

“Simon” I said, rubbing his back lightly. “It’s Mommy. Do you want me to pick you up?”


“Do you want to come into Mommy and Daddy’s room?”

“No. Shleep.”

“Can I stay here and rub your back a little bit?”

“No. Ah wanna shleep.Goodbye, Mommy. Goodbye, Mommy”.

This last bit was uttered as he thrust his arm away from his side to push my hand away. His meaning was clear: Crying or no, he just wanted to be alone in his crib so he could get some sleep. Never has an eviction been so endearing or amusing.

Alas, he woke up again at 11:30, and this time he was too miserable to get to sleep on his own. We didn’t get him back to sleep until approaching two, and some unpleasant intervention was involved. Think toddler neti pot.

* I bought this book on a trip when we realized that Matt had accidentally packed all of Simon’s books in our checked-in bags. Do Princesses Count, in all its pink and sparkly glory, was literally the only child’s book I could find on the gates’ side of security.

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