During this month, Sunday and I have entered the new and disturbing world of ear infections. While neither of us thought that Jonah’s ear infection was a cakewalk, his reaction to sickness didn’t match many of the claims some of my parental colleagues have.
You’ve heard the horror stories of sick kids: screaming all night, bleeding eye sockets, shifting of the tectonic plates, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
Sunday and I didn’t really experience any of those things. Most of the time, I hadn’t realized he was sick until Sunday came back from the doctor’s office. If you’ll recall, I have Dad’s power of diagnosis, so he could have needed stitches and I wouldn’t have known it. (Remember Luke’s stitches? Eight! He needed eight!) But Sunday came in for the rescue.
This month, however, Jonah was sick enough for me to know.
I took him to church, and he looked a little tired. For some kids, “a little tired” calls for non-stop whining and fussiness. For Jonah, “a little tired” means he’s mellow. By mellow I mean 45 minutes after a 3-hour Grateful Dead concert kind of mellow. Jonah was sporting slits for eyes.
When I came around to pick him up from the nursery, he was sitting in the middle of the room, looking up, counting the ceiling tiles. When he saw that I was there, a slow smile spread on his face, and his eyes drooped a little. He was not feeling well. I took him to lunch, though, because I was hungry. (I’m sensitive like that).
When I handed him to Sunday, she had an immediate diagnosis: fever with a slight goopiness around the eyes caused by possible flu, pink eye, or malaria. I just thought that maybe he wasn’t feeling well. Sunday knew he was sick. By the time we got him home, he had a fever (102˚) and we both lost our good common sense.
As we both looked up from the thermometer, we looked at the numbers and then we looked at each other.
“He’s got a fever,” Sunday said. Tears pooled in her eyes.
“We got any tea?” I asked, not noticing the tears.
“Hey, what was that for?”
“HE’S GOT A FEVER!”
I saw the numbers on the thermometer. I knew he had a fever. I just didn’t know that Sunday wanted me to dwell on it with her. So, as I recovered from the vicious slap upside the head, I began dwelling.
Dwelling, dwelling, dwelling. I came to this conclusion: “He’s got a fever.” I didn’t say that, though.
I did say, however, “What do you want to do?”
“What do you think we should do?” she replied.
“Maybe we should give him some water.”
“Put him in water? What’s that going to do?”
“I said give him some water.”
“Oh. That sounds good.”
Conversations like these brought us to the high level of marital performance we currently enjoy. Jonah’s fever has brought a realization to our lives: neither one of us wants to be the idiot to make the bad decision. If we’re both there, then we can live with our own jackassedness. If one of us is alone and makes a mistake in judgment, however, then our parent’s license could be rescinded. We don’t want that just yet. (We might want to quit that job sometime in the future, but not now). Plus, we realize that we have a virtual army of other parents who know we are parents now, too, and we don’t want them badmouthing us.
So, as Jonah had a fever, we stayed at home, as a family. We hunkered down, hoping that the food would last until we could get him to a doctor. It was like we were sharing a wilderness cabin with the Unabomber or something, rationing food and making sure the cable didn’t go out.
By the time Sunday and Jonah left the apartment to go to the doctor, the light streaming through the open door was greeted with a vampire hiss and shielding of the eyes. We hunkered down, buddy, and we did it because of a fever. A FEVER!
Jonah ended up having a virus and pink eye. (No malaria yet).