Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Grampy Diaries

Hell hath no fury like that of a sickly child. Really. Nevermind PMS. This past week or so has been a living H-E-double-hockey-stick. What started innocuously enough as a case of sniffles quickly turned into a full-blown cold, complete with hacking cough that not only prevented our One 'n' Only from napping during the day but also for most hours of the night... And this went on for oh, about six consecutive nights. So it seems he has inherited his dad's low threshold for pain: he who still trembles in his size 12s at the sight of a dental hygienist and who nearly passed out when I had to have MY waters forcibly broken by crochet needle almost 16 months ago! (But who, paradoxically, doesn't at all mind the tattooist's needle buzzing and slicing into his arm for hours at a time, go figure.) 

Poor LGO. I could not wipe his snotty, ever snotting nose enough. We elevated his mattress, put on the Vicks vaporizer, sang all the lullabies in heaven and rocked him till the sun started shining again. All to no avail. He felt tremendously yucky in his skin and couldn't get comfy enough to get the rest he needed to get well again. Still, his spirit was amazing throughout. He was a chipper little man during the day, even though he must have been exhausted.  His walking has come a long way in the past few weeks.  He is 'running' at times, walking in dizzying circles, and pacing the living room like a caged lion.  His balance and coordination have also come along through practice; he can squat better than his mother, bending to retrieve balls and tiny blocks, then standing again.  He loves climbing up stairs but we have yet to learn a safe way of going down them.  Still no words as such but his language, if it can be called that, is sounding more word-like.  And anyway, even though he isn't expressive, I can tell the comprehension is there -- ie. when I ask him to do something or where something is, I can tell that he 'gets it' -- so this fact alone has put my fears to rest. 

Just as I am a perpetual worrier, LGO is a perpetual late starter, a fact I am belatedly realizing.  And it's no biggie as far as facts go.  But I know I am not the only mother out there worried about her infant's development, or lack thereof.  Said dental hygienist has a tutor for her toddler because the other kids in his kindergarten class already know their ABCs.  Said toddler even asked her if he was dumb, which is telling to his emotional intelligence at the very least.  Asked if he was dumb, at something like 4 years old!  It is not enough for kids to develop at their own pace any more.  It's not enough for parents to worry about things like autism, ADD, and dyslexia; their kids shouldn't just keep pace with their peers but there is the expectation, even at preschool, for them to excel and exceed their peers.  Is the sluggish economy responsible for this parental montessori insanity?  Surely all said parents need shrinks, not the kiddos.  I mean, Kumon!!  What happened to childhood for children?  I've seen the lives of city lawyers close up; no way do I want that kind of dog house existence for my son.  I want a happy plumber or burger flipper.  I want him to enjoy his time in the sun, dissecting earthworms, just as I did.  That's why we moved to the Canadian outback after all.  So he can have the opportunity to play hockey in the street, if he wants to--

But back to the sickness...  Of course this would be the week when Mr Green had to set sail (or Nissan) on business south of the border for a few nights. For Pete's sake and Murphy's law, it figures.  Cue my parents to step in and save the day. It literally took three pairs of hands and round-the-clock shift work to get through last week's wreckage. Never have I been so sleep deprived except for those few bleary weeks last October. Now Little Green is making progress. Not quite so crusty and snotty but oh, how he has grown accustomed to those three pairs of doting hands. The rocking and the lullabying, and the cuddling everywhere but in his crib, till his heart's content. In the space of a week he has turned into a five-star baby and expects that kind of service from now on, if you please. Now that he is on the road to recovery it's a hard withdrawal process. But it's high time to spoil the rod and spare the child, so to speak. He must re-learn how to fall asleep on his own. It's for his own good, I know this. And I don't begrudge all the mollycoddling that went on. It's what little ones need when they are poorly; as vital as vitamin C and as crucial to healing as good ole Campbell’s chicken noodle.

Our poor little chicken noodle. As sorry as I felt for him, I felt just as sorry for myself and for my saintly parents who not only tolerated but thrived on very little sleep for the duration of our 'visit'. I am not someone who can go without sleep. It doesn't take long for me to get very ugly, indeed. I'll be the first to admit that. But isn't it surprising who steps up to the plate in times of need? Remarkable. Assuming you've ever found yourself in a time of need, I'll bet the most help has come from those you least expected, and the least from those you expected most. Unlikely angels. Mine is my stepdad, formerly the Anti Christ. Now a Superstar in my books. I wouldn't even believe it myself; it's the stuff of the worst kind of made-for-TV movie. Growing up, I couldn't stand him and the feeling was oh-so-mutual. He was the muse for my angst and many spiral notebooks filled with angry scrawls and Alanis Morrisette-type 'poetry'. Now he is the Baby Whisperer. So helpful. So considerate and wonderful with my baby boy, exuding tireless patience when LGO is at his most tiresome.

While I sorta wish he'd been like that with me, I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or any horse for that matter. I appreciate his help. I am grateful for the new understanding and the surprising bond that has sprung out of the weeds between us. It's weird how well we get along now, how similar we are... I'd go so far to say spooky, even. Maybe if he had met my mom sooner -- say, while I was still a baby or a toddler (since my birth father had long gone AWOL) rather than a moody pre-pubescent -- things might have been different. But the past is dead and buried, right? There's no sense even looking backwards when all anyone can reasonably do is walk on the solid ground above it. And so I am looking forward, with a baby nurtured back to health, knowing a good deal of that nurturing came from his grandfather.


  1. That piece about your stepdad is great. I didn't know. Well, you'd mentioned in passing but this is a confirmation. Makes me happy. I have found that childbearing brought back demons I had thought at rest. I like the thought - I'll aspire to the thought - you had in your second last sentence.

    I know only a little about montessori but I was under the impression that it was pretty cool... and it also happens to be the only child care we've managed to find. But we definitely don't over-parent Ada so maybe it's not a wise choice for us? What can you tell me about it? Should I worry?

    About costs! I am certain that those monthly fees you're friend told you about are too high.
    Her quote sounds like a very expensive institutional daycare. Most are cheaper, not to mention that licensed home care is hundreds of dollars cheaper still. Here in Ottawa, licensed home care (someone running a daycare out of their home, with a license and likely (definitely?) an agency) charges around $800/month and I've heard lower. Our cost of living here in Ottawa is NOOOOTTT hundreds of dollars cheaper than Toronto, is it? Montessori (considered to be at the other end of the financial spectrum) quoted me $1350/month and that is expensive for Ottawa.

  2. This post wasn't meant to pick on montessori schools in particular. And I can't comment on costs, except to say that Toronto is exorbitant from what friends tell me. I am in a blessed position not to have to choose childcare (and instead have the 'luxury' of living with my own mistakes!). Suffice to say that the current trend toward hyper-parenting concerns me. The pressure on kids to perform begins far too early these days, and certainly the emphasis for the infant/preschool set should be not achieving but having fun. Maybe it's unrealistic for me to want a grace period in which kids are free from competitive and pressurized environments. After all, there is more than enough of that to follow in life, isn't there?