Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 3 AM Call

So the night before last I got the call that all parents dread; namely "Honey, turn on the light please, he just threw up." Sadly Makoto has come down with the stomach flu that seems to be hitting all the kids around the town. Last night he manged to get on the toilet before he threw up, but we still had one heck of a mess to clean up, and again and again and again today. It's not his fault of course, the poor little guy is sick, the doc actually had him on an IV for a bit to re-hydrate (The joy of stomach flu, kids get it at both ends and since nothing will stay in, that's why its so dangerous for little guys).

It did get me thinking though. Growing up I had Dr. Mom in residence. Not literally a doctor of course, but it got to the point where my mother could call our doctor with the symptoms have him confirm her diagnosis, and then he would phone in the needed prescription for her to pick up. What was amazing is that my mother for a good chunk of the time that my sister and I were visited with the usual childhood afflictions did it all by herself and did it without panicking.

Both kids down with the stomach flu, vomit going everywhere, fevers running well over 100 and it didn't phase her. She dealt with the godawful messes, dispensed medicine, juice, and chicken noodle soup, and did so without seemingly batting an eyelash; even as her children crawled into her bed in the middle of the night to announce "Mommy, I don't feel good... BLERG!"

When Makoto came along, I didn't think I could do the same. I'm usually not a happy camper when awoken in the middle of the night; growing up I was noted for a somewhat weak stomach (Even if I wasn't actually sick, seeing people throwing up would usually get me to), and just... ew... Leaking diapers full of watery, off color, smelly poop... Pajamas, blankets, walls and floors coated in vomit... And all of this in the middle of the night where all I want to do is sleep, not spend a half an hour cleaning a hysteric kid and various items of clothing, bedding, and house.

Plus there was the worry... sick kid. Here's a little guy who looks to Mommy and Daddy to make everything better, who when he's hurt can come crying to one of us and we can make the pain go away almost immediately. But when he's sick... we can't. We can't just make it go away, and in fact we might have to make it worse by forcing him to take his medications (And it should be noted that many a Japanese medicine, especially for kids, are suppositories). So that's stressful, the child who looks to you to make it all better is let down. And yes, it does hurt that you can't wave a magic wand and make it go away, even if you really want to. Add in that nagging voice in the back of every parent's mind, "What if..." What if this isn't just a cold, what if the doctor tells me something is really wrong, what if...

I admit, the first few times Makoto got sick... I wasn't Superdad, I was more super-wreck. Beloved and I both ended up yelling at each other trying to get the little guy changed and cleaned up. Both of us were stressed out and tired. Each new illness found us racing through the streets to the children's all night clinic to make sure that our little guy was ok, just to get that LOOK from the doctor of "It's a cold. He's ok. Go back to bed."

So, yes, the first year or so I marveled at just how unflappable my mother was in handling this and wondered if I would ever get there myself. But you know, as with all things in fatherhood and parenting, it's amazing just how much you can change and pick up and never know about it. Think about it, these kids don't come with instruction manuals and no matter what your background is, it is a far different thing to be faced with YOUR sick child.

So the night before last I got the call that all parents dread; namely "Honey, turn on the light please, he just threw up." Bringing the light up I got to see a lovely puddle of vomit and a crying 4-year-old. I glanced at Beloved, "Stomach flu?" she said. "Stomach flu." I nodded. Beloved just sighed, "I'll get his clothes, please clean him up while I change the bed."

Half an hour later, Makoto was cleaned, changed, with new bedding and settled back down to sleep with a bowl by his head. While we had another call the next night, and a few more during today, the both of us just got on with the jobs at hand, cleaning, changing, shuffling one kid off to the doctor and the other one was kept occupied. Makoto has been calmly dealt with in terms of messes and the dispensing of OS-1, hand holding, and the cleaning of his bowl when it gets a bit full. And all without drama or yelling.

Dr. Dad has passed his residency and hung out his shingle. Still not fond of three am calls, but at least I can deal with them.

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