Recently, we were on our way to school, hurrying because we had an appointment with Jackson’s teachers for his parent-teacher conference. (Yes, my son, who is not even four, has parent-teacher conferences.) It had been an incredibly full weekend, mainly driven by my decision to outfit the family with biking equipment so that we could ride together and a determination to make it to the last Braves’ home game of the season.
In our freshly-cleaned home (my husband had his preaching class over to watch the documentary on Dietrich Bonhoeffer the night before; this has been an old trick of ours—when the house gets too dirty, invite folks over! Our aversion to shame makes us clean every time ...), I made a pot of oatmeal, dressed the boys in freshly-cleaned clothes, and filled their freshly-cleaned sippy cups. We’re not exactly a well-oiled machine (as anyone who has ever had a morning appointment with me knows), but we were doing alright, eeking out the door right on time.
On the way to school, we passed Egleston Children’s Hospital. This is the inspiration for lots of morning drive dialogue because of Jackson’s most recent experience there getting one stitch in his palm. It usually involves the youngest boy in the backseat suggesting that he needs to go to the hospital to get a cut (i.e., have surgery). By the time we’ve passed the next stoplight, conversation has progressed to cranes, or scooters, or the Dan Zanes song they’d like to hear for the 239,468,569,875th time in a row. (In case you’re wondering, the top-played song on my iPod is “Tennessee Wig Walk.”)
But yesterday, we passed the hospital, and two-year-old Cooper commented: “I don’t feel good.”
“Oh, Bean, you’re okay.” I passed over his comment as if it was a beige stripe on a tan wall.
Cooper responded: “Blgggggggggggggh.”
Mama: “Take your hands out of your mouth, Cooper. It will make you gag.”
Matt, doting father that he is, just happened to be rubbing Coop’s chest when we saw the oatmeal again. This always, always, always happens to Matt. Always. I think it’s God’s way of rewarding me for birthing the boys without medication. (What’s that? You didn’t know I’m a natural birthing machine? Oh! Well. Now you do. I’m never going to let anyone forget this. It’s great currency when I’m feeling tired or lazy or ... if it’s Monday, or something. Anyway, back to Matt catching Cooper’s breakfast ...) So, Matt dutifully does what he must to prevent the mess from being larger than it could be, which is waaaaay more than I could ever do. It’s the one mom-task that makes me want to flee and forsake my parenting responsibilities for about ten minutes or so. Then, I’m totally back in the game. I swear.
We finish the drive to school, and apologetically deliver Jackson to his teachers, and return our attention to our half-dressed baby. Matt, after washing his hands with the intensity and fervor of Lady Macbeth, snagged some extra clothes from Cooper’s cubby and we turned on our heels and headed back to the car. Cooper was warm, and it was clear that he wasn’t going to school. Matt had class that night, and lots to prep, so it looked like it was me and C for the day.
Before dropping Matt off and heading home, we made a quick run by the store for sick-day provisions (SOUP!) and Dancing Goat for must-have essentials (COFFEE!). Cooper was lethargic, but cheerful, which is the best kind of sick to be. We got home and I wrapped him up in our favorite couch blanket, turned on his favorite show, and unloaded the groceries. He stayed burritoed for about eight seconds before popping up and quipping, “I need some MIIIIIILK.”
Bearing in mind my loathing of vomit, I was a little hesitant to meet his request. I’m just not the best at handling this particular mess, and the couch and rug had just been washed the day before ... you know ... the hassle of cleaning again ...
But, Cooper is nothing if not persistent, so I got his milk for him with fear and trembling. We sat down on the couch, and I remembered the gorgeous cup of coffee that was waiting patiently on me. I got up to get it and hear a tiny voice say, “I go pee pee.”
“Okay, Cooper! Let’s go to the potty!” Mustering enthusiasm is hard sometimes.
“My yeg is wet.”
“Your leg is wet? Did you ... Cooper!?!”
A lovely spot spread out from around his bum. Apparently, a sick day at home with mom also means that one is free from expectations like eating a variety of foods, or ... wee-ing in the potty even though you’ve been potty-trained for nearly two months.
So, I washed the couch cushion for the second time in twenty-four hours (thanks, IKEA!), and said a silent prayer of thanks that I was washing out one bodily function instead of my least-favorite other. I returned to find Cooper cuddling with his bicycle helmet, as if it was his most beloved stuffed animal.
“Cooper, do you want to cuddle with Mommy?”
“Yesss.” He crawled up on my chest, and proceeded to flop around about eighteen times before settling down with one arm around his helmet. He looked up at me, disquieted.
Cooper: Mommy? You hold my helmet?
Me: Sure, baby.
Cooper: I wanna hold my penis.
Me: Um... Okay.
Who am I to deprive him of this comfort? He sighed and settled in with hand shoved down his pants. This is always a clue that he’s tired, so when his show ended, we headed upstairs for the world’s easiest naptime transition. He fell asleep in about eight seconds, leaving me with hours to spend all by myself in my own house. This is a rare and precious gift.
Part 1| (Part 2)