Four Oh? Ten Four
Do Not Perturb


When I was pregnant with Patrick I read an article in whatever parenting magazine that assured the neurotic new mother that they would just know when their baby was sick enough to require a visit to the doctor. Supposedly most parents have instincts that are sharp like English cheese and I think that's great (go species!) but I feel a little wistful because clearly I am evolutionarily inferior.

Wham. That is my head hitting the keyboard. Wham wham wham.

Remember that time when Caroline left her well baby appointment in an ambulance? Or the months Patrick went around looking like one of the Nazgul because a bacterial infection was slowly taking over his head? 

So yesterday Steve and I were running errands* with Caroline and Edward in tow. We went to Target. We went to the shoe store. We went to get some groceries. We bought fabric. And then, by merest chance, we happened to drive past our pediatrician's office at the exact moment that Edward coughed (as he said to me over the weekend "You and me Mommy have big coughs and we are coughing them") and I turned to Steve and said, "Hey, you know, I took him into urgent care over two weeks ago for this congestion. Should we swing in and have someone check him again?"

And Steve looked at the clock, calculated how much time we had until we needed to pick up Patrick, and said, "Yeah I guess it wouldn't hurt."

Long story short: Edward has pneumonia. Kind of a mild pneumonia, I think. A walking pneumonia but still... pneumonia. And I had sent him to sports class.


In my defense he has no fever, no discernable wheeze, no alarming blueness... really apart from the gunk he has been a picture of health. Jeez. Pneumonia. Who knew?


Speaking of illness, Patrick is going to the Mayo clinic the Monday after Thanksgiving. When our pediatrician suggested this as a next step, he said that the Mayo has two big things going for it: one is that they use a team approach; and the other is that they are used to seeing zebras. Personally I think Patrick (and most likely his baby brother) has some sort of an immune problem. They get colds like other kids and then the colds morph into something swampy and never clear up without pharmaceutical assistance. But it doesn't matter what I think because we're going to the Mayo and no one there will care. Whee! Talk about relieving my anxiety about missing something in my ignorance. Someone in my comments (jokingly) suggested that I should be sure to do copious amounts of google research on all kinds of obscure conditions and bring the printouts with me - she said Mayo doctors love that sort of thing. I laughed. Can you imagine? They don't even let you schedule on your own. I had to have all of Patrick's relevant records sent from the hospital and the ENT and the pediatrician and then they called me after a doctor reviewed it all and told me what department was interested in him. So Patrick is scheduled with an infectious disease specialist who subspecializes in pediatric immune disorders and I think that pretty much covers it.

School continues to go well for him, although I discovered at conferences that he has a wee little problem with, oh you know, finishing any assignment. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending upon your point of view) his teacher is one of those warm, affirmative types who acknowledged that he needs to work a little harder but rushed to point out all of the things he is doing well. Like... socializing. At one point she told me that he is obviously very funny and she always hears peals of laughter coming from his tablemates. And she said it with the fond smile a person might give while discussing the high-spiritedness of a beloved grandchild. I was tempted to tell her that his ability to make his peers laugh in class would only please me if he was actually enrolled in clown college but... hell. I AM pleased that he is having such a good time, although I hid this fact when I returned home and threatened him with every dire repercussion I could think of if he didn't get off his lazy and start getting his schoolwork done.

So between my threats and his homebase teacher's loving acceptance of him (she has asked him to make her some curtains for her classroom - preferably tie-dyed; she's aces) and his math teacher bumping him up another math level I hope next quarter is just as laugh riotous but greatly more productive.


I still cannot believe that Steve surprised me on such a massive scale for my birthday. Not only am I shocked that he maintained secrecy in the face of my superhuman nosiness but I am also kinda surprised (and incredibly touched) that he bothered to go to so much trouble. Steve - and heaven knows I love him with the jawcracking force of an exploding two-ton bomb - has never been one for over-the-top romantic gestures. I asked him after the party if the first fifteen years of our relationship had merely been a prelude to this big surprise; if he had been forcing himself to stifle all that thoughtfulness under a carefully constructed veneer of (can you say self-centeredness about someone who spent two months planning your party? no? oh well) in order to deliver a bigger wallop of SURPRISE! He laughed. I still think it is likely.

Anyway, there are a lot of ways to feel loved but in my experience the surprise party was one of the most spectacular and after I arose from my sickbed I was sloshing over with a desire to reciprocate; with a yearning to convey that I am equally smooshy-mooshy about him.

"My darling," I said last Thursday, noting the leafless trees and the herd of deer playing rugby in our front yard, "isn't this the time of year that you like to sit in the woods and threaten innocent creatures with your bow and arrows? Do you want to go down to the farm some time?"

And Steve whipped a duffel bag out of nowhere and shouted, "I was just waiting until you felt better, byyyyeeeee..." and he left so quickly that there were little clouds of dust where he had been standing, just like a roadrunner cartoon. Actually I am exaggerating. He did say that he had been waiting until I felt better and that he would like to go to the farm as soon as possible. "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but I think today."

I said uh, ok, I guess, go, have fun, I will tend to the home fires and then asked when he was coming back, meaning would he be home in time for the early game on Sunday or not until the late afternoon game?

"Ummm, next Tuesday or Wednesday. I don't know. I'll call you. Love you, byyyeeeeeee."

And then he was gone and I was standing there blinking  because a week of solo parenting (and solo carpooling. solo litterboxes. solo fixing the broken security system, dealing with the tire that has a slow leak, sorting through increasingly complicated business accounting) was a little longer than I had anticipated. Silly me.

In the end Steve was gone all week and in case you are wondering the exact number of You days a surprise party buys a spouse; it is: five. After five days I was done and when Steve came home on day seven I practically threw the children at him and climbed into the bathtub, pulling all of my Agatha Christies in after me.

I'm glad he is home again and the tremendous respect I feel for those of you who regularly manage without an another adult has been renewed three-fold. Children are wonderfully wonderful but they are also bottomless gulleys of sucking need and I find unalleviated 24/7 parenting both stressful and exhausting. 


I mentioned that I started running again. I did. And then I started getting shin splints that hurt so much I was hobbling around the house and could barely walk, let alone run. A quick google search indicated that there are two primary causes for shin pain: running too much and bad shoes. One woman on some running board shared the fact that she always got shin splints at the beginning of the season when she accidentally ran ten miles instead of three.

Huh. You don't know me personally and I am sure that many of you frequently find yourself getting so carried away when you exercise that you inadvertently run ten miles but... that is not me. I am a two slow miles if I'm lucky kind of a runner. So, new shoes it was!

I took Patrick with me and handed him one of the cat behavior books we had gotten from the library (he is doing his science fair project on feline something or other.) The shoe guy measured my feet and asked pertinent questions about my shins while Patrick opened his book at random and started reading. He started snickering and then he burst into uncontrolled laughter. I didn't realize cat behavior was so funny so I asked what was amusing him. He said it was a list of cat New Year's resolutions.

"Oh," I said.

"What's a con-dome?" he asked.

I turned red. The shoe guy turned purple.

"What?" I said.

"Con-dome," said Patrick.

"We'll talk about it later," I said. "In the car."

"Why? What is it?" asked Patrick. "Oh and what's co-i-toos?"

I grabbed the book, glanced briefly at the cat resolutions that included a promise not to drag empty condom wrappers through the living room and tossed the book into my purse. Then I sat on my purse.

Patrick said, "HEY!"

The shoe guy said, "So! How do those feel? Good?"

I said, "I'll take them, thank you, no bag" and I walked out wearing one new shoe and one sock, clutching the box with the other shoe in my hands.

The moral of this story is:

Man, I have no idea. How a nice book on cats from the library led to Patrick embarrassing the beejeezums out of me during an otherwise harmless consultation on arch support I have no idea. Coitus! In a cat book!

PS Remind me to talk about holiday gift ideas next time. Tis the season.

PPS Pneumonia!

* No, Steve does not usually drive me around and carry my parcels. In fact I cannot remember the last time he did. However, it turns out that he WANTS TO GO BACK DOWN TO THE FARM THIS WEEKEND and he is trying to butter me up. It's sort of working.

PPPS AHEM! Human coitus. The book referenced cats tactlessly interrupting human coitus. I return to my exclamation points.

PPPPS And I am fine, in theory, discussing sex with Patrick. Just not with Patrick and the shoe guy.