Friday, February 22, 2008

Seven-day stretch

I picked The Boy up from preschool last Thursday around the noon hour. He was fresh from his classroom's sugar-fueled Valentine's Day celebration, and I, fresh from a bout with The Bug That's Going Around, was feeling very tired anyway. I took his hand, grabbed his basket of little preschooler-appropriate Valentine cards, helped him climb into the car and headed north for a fish taco lunch.

Between my own level of tired and his sugar-laden morning, I knew it would most likely be a rough afternoon. But I rose to the occasion, comfortable in the knowledge Dad's Day Off would be just a day or so away.

Fat chance, Dad.

Friday: The Boy starts coughing. Nothing major, nothing sounding like that of a Camel smoker, just a simple little cough. Remembering he'd had his bout of The Bug even before I did, we elected to go to our favorite park anyway. Boy heads to his room for a now-rare afternoon nap, and awakens with a little fever. 99.5, nothing serious, just something to watch. That evening, Mrs. T comes home and announces she wants to visit an old friend in Bakersfield over the weekend, too. Solo. So that Dad's Day Off I needed was most likely about to evaporate.

No problem, I thought. All other things being equal, I can handle the extra Boy Time.

Saturday: The Boy's cough is worse, and the fever is higher. The cough is hacking, dry, sounding all at once like that of a Simpson aunt. We take it easy, remaining at home for most of the day to give him a chance to beat The Bug for the second time. Mrs. T briefly reconsiders her trip to Bakersfield, but I wave her off and tell her to have her day. We make a brief Target visit for more Children's Tylenol.

Sunday: The fever worsens. The Boy wakes looking red and feeling cranky. The handy in-the-ear thermometer reads an even 100 in the morning. Mrs. T packs an overnight bag and heads south. Thorne, still feeling overtired from his own Bug battle, battens down the hatches for what's likely to be a long day. Right before bedtime, and despite Tylenol, the fever hits 102.5.

Monday: The coughing is much worse, but the fever is down just a bit. But The Boy doesn't want to slow down, expressing most crankily his desire to go to the Park NOW. I keep administering Tylenol dosages and encouraging him to rest, but he'll have none of it. Needing something to hold his attention while keeping him resting, and knowing television just doesn't do it for him, I drop $65 at Target on a new Leapster. And it works almost magically, keeping The Boy interested and restfully couch-bound for stretches of up to 90 minutes at a time. Mrs. T returns from Bakersfield, and I get a couple of hours of Farris Time.

Tuesday: The fever's continued presence, back to 100, means I can't send The Boy to preschool. I'm exhausted, but with no preschool no break will be forthcoming. The cough still sounds like a sputtering '78 Pinto. We arrange a Doctor's visit, now because the fever has hung on for days, all after reverifying his pediatrician accepts our new medical insurance, which switched from full coverage to an 80/20 plan involuntarily on January 1.

Wednesday: No fever, but no preschool either, thanks to the "fever's gotta be gone for 24 hours before returning" rule. I'm running out of energy. The Boy's pediatrician finds no fever, but worrisome sounds in his lungs. She wants to rule out bronchitis, so out comes the nebulizer. And The Boy inhales it like a champion. His cheeks return to full pinkness, and I'm starting to waver. Boy throws a tantrum on the way home, because he doesn't want to go to Walgreens where his new prescription awaits. Despite the by-now six days of loyal fatherly services and care, while waiting at the pharmacy counter The Boy looks up and yells, "I didn't want to come here. You are an awful daddy." I need caffeine; instead, the Starbucks drive-through screws up my drink order once again; lately they're batting around .300 on making simple vanilla lattes correctly.

Thursday: The Boy has adapted to his nebulizer refill, but Dad is absolutely wiped out. No preschool on the schedule today; instead, we're able to return to the park where he interrupts some folks videotaping promos for a local youth-ministry function repeatedly. I think they'd have been upset had their seated narrator not blown at least 30 takes on a relatively simple script. We return home for a mac-and-cheese lunch, hang around the living room for a bit while a new rainstorm begins, and find ourselves in the late afternoon at Fresno's Fashion Fair, where my now-recovering Boy spends an hour or so climbing, jumping, running, yelling, and wreaking general havoc while I experience a seated coma.

In the end: A seven-day stretch, all while exhausted from my own flu bug, with a sick child, a busy wife, and nary a break. For today The Boy will likely return to preschool, while I'm scheduled to begin a week or so of client work that will keep me pointing and clicking through, say, the beginning of March.

So much for next week's break.

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