Hands free parenting

When you absolutely, positively have to get to the hospital…
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(Not our car. We walked past this one on the way to the doctor’s office.)

Mama was in the office, so I was on daddy duty yesterday, shepherding the kids to doctor’s appointments and caring for Jewel, who survived the tornado of a 48-hour virus only to come down with a cold. 3B has it too, but Jewel seems to have gotten the worst of it, though she’s been cheerful through it and even taught herself to use the belly of her shirt to wipe her nose when there are no tissues.

I’m so proud.

What made me truly proud yesterday was how 3B, when Jewel had been shattered by shots in each arm at the doctor’s office, did everything in his power to comfort her. Ignoring her screaming, crying and anger, any of which usually upset him, he waded right into it, trying to distract her, offering her toys and comforts. And he stuck with it. She didn’t melt like butter, but lit up like lava, burning everything she came into contact everywhere she went, from the exam room to the car. 3B, however, was undaunted, cheerful and persistent.

I was so impressed with his efforts.

He showed that he not only cares deeply about his sister, but also is always watching her–otherwise, how would he know immediately what to offer her to calm her? How to talk to her to soothe her and not set her off? How would he know that he has to stick with her through it?

As for her, if I were sick and someone slid two slivers of steel under my skin to pump in a stinging solution, I’d scream at them too. I’d need to be held back too. And I probably wouldn’t be bought off with a princess sticker on the way out the door, so kudos to her for her quick recovery, even if the screaming didn’t really end with that sticker.

What ended it was a trip to Starbucks. Yeah, you heard me. Did I stutter? Starbucks, because I am the baddest motherdaddy in this here town. Actually, I don’t even know how we got there. Someone suggested that we get a black-and-white cookie (to protect the innocent, I won’t even use 3B’s initials here…oh, wait…) and Irish coffee sounded good, and we were going to get 3B back to school right in the middle of lunch and, oh hell, why am I explaining to you?

I told Jewel that we couldn’t go into Starbucks if she was going to disrupt the other people there. She was done with the real crying long before we got there, anyway, so I don’t feel like I was repressing her–though her therapist will be the final judge of that, I suppose. And we did disrupt everyone there anyway. I don’t know if it was a dad being left alone with two kids or just kids in the middle of the school day–shut up, stick that pinkie finger out and sip your goddamned poopacino–but everyone turned their head about 12 times while we were in there to stare at us.

And then it was over, 3B was back in school, Jewel and I did what we needed to and could in the short time left before school ended. As soon as it did, we had to meet the fridge repairman at home–the icemaker works again, so bring your vermouth and olives over anytime–race on our scooters to meet 3B, race back home, race to the playground, and then relax through a playdate until things got…testy.

Before we all got a little tired, hungry and done, the playdate reminded me that sometimes the best response is to just laugh.

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Mostly that reminder came from 3B’s friend, who seems to be forever cheerful. I bet I could get it from my kids, if I just shut up and listened once in awhile.

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There was more, and there will be pictures somewhere (I’m guessing over here), but those are the highlights of what was my hardest workday all week. It was the hardest and easiest. It was the longest and the shortest. It was a time of trials, transgressions and redemption.

It might have been that way because it was largely a hands-free day, meaning that I didn’t have one hand on my phone all day–except when I was texting with Mama to remind her that in offices, people don’t wipe their noses on their shirts. That relaxed me and allowed me to focus on where I was, what was next and who I was with. And to use both hands to get my shirt up to my nose to wipe it.

My kids were so proud.

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