Monday, July 23, 2012

Why her?

On Sunday evening after a very long day hosting family and friends at our home, the cutest one cut her finger. When I say cut her finger, I'm understating it. The doctors called it a partial amputation, which means its still attached, but that cut was damn deep. 

We're not really sure what happened. The beloved was cleaning one part of the house, I was vacuuming and the eldest pair were playing with and looking after the cutest one, and doing a brilliant job too I might add. They think that she got her finger caught in the door as it was closing, but we're still not 100% sure. Whatever it was, it was just an accident. Stuff like that happens from time to time. It certainly wasn't their fault in anyway shape or form, and I had to reiterate this over and over to my daughter who was extremely upset and blaming herself. When things like this happen, there is no point in blaming someone, or converting your own fear and shock onto anyone else. All it does is make a dreadful situation worse.

The cutest one was in a bad way, my daughter was in a bad way, I was in a bad way. I don't like blood, especially free flowing blood, especially from the cutest one. I felt helpless, I felt nauseous.. My little darling was in dreadful pain and I couldn't do anything. I couldn't make it better, I couldn't sooth her, just hold her and try to stem the bleeding. I hate being helpless when my family is suffering. There is no worse feeling. Your stomach sinks, you feel light headed and often panic starts to creep up upon you.

The beloved, shaken, but cool in crisis, rushed with the boy (a dependable calm lad) to hospital. She rightly decided I was no use whatsoever to her and that I should calm the eldest daughter. In some strange way it was good for me that she was so upset, because it took my mind off my own fears and concerns for the cutest one and focused me firmly on the needs of the eldest. She needed me now. I could help her. I could calm her. Even if I couldn't help the cutest one I could help another of my children. Hugs, cuddles, hair stroking and soothing, reassuring words. I can do that, and I did, and it worked.

A short time after they left a phone call from the boy explained that they had already seen a doctor, and were waiting for specialists. All good. Reassuring, to some extent, but at that stage I was starting to hate myself. I should be there. I should be listening to the doctors. I should be holding my poor baby. Damn helplessness! The beloved is more capable than I, and I had already done my fair share of emergency visits with the boy's asthma attacks. Now I was experiencing what she may have gone through. The fear of separation from your ill child, the constant worry of the unknown. 

A couple of hours after they left its a pleasant surprise to hear a key in the lock. I'm off the couch in an instant, and blabbing stupid questions to the beloved who is carrying the cutest one. If I had taken just a moment I would have noticed the little ones face; she was happy. Smiling away as if she didn't have a care in the world. Happy to see me, happy to see he big sister, and somewhat curious of the blue bandaged 'boxing glove' on her hand, but happy. Relief is such a cleansing emotion, its like all the fear is being washed away. With her beaming little smile, everything is better. 

The beloved tells me that everything should be ok, but the cutest one has to go to surgery the next day. I guess I expected as much so it doesn't surprise me. But we both agree that she'll take the little one, as I'm liable to lose the plot when then give her anaesthetic to knock her out. She's right, I'd be a mess. Even thinking about it now (she's currently in surgery), I'm glad I'm not there and I'm distracting myself with writing this and worrying about how to convey my emotions rather than the emotions themselves. Of course I should be there, for the wife, for the little one. But I'm not and I also feel like I'm betraying them, and not supporting them. Sure there are logical reasons to be at home, like the practical stuff of picking the other two up from school and going to footy training. Things that just keep happening regardless of what life throws at you. And that's really it. Life is like that. Shit happens, bad shit, but it doesn't stop the world from moving, it doesn't stop time, and it doesn't allow you to mope. You have responsibilities, and one of the keys to our marriage being wonderful is that we both work together to handle whatever life throws at us. This time, and for good reasons, I'm the one trundling on with those things that need to be done, and the beloved is the one dealing with the crisis. 

It still sucks to be waiting at home, waiting for a phone call to tell me everything is fine. Where's that damn phone call?



It came some 2 hours after the cutest one went into surgery, whilst I was revisiting the dreaded pumpkin soup (anything to distract myself). In the end we think all went well as no one said it went badly. Oddly no doctor spoke to the beloved before the cutest one was discharged, but I guess we'll find out more in a couple of weeks when the bandages come off. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plan B, don't leave home with out it

The school holidays finally ended and the two larger ones headed off to school on Monday. Don't get me wrong, I'm not using 'finally' out of desperation because I didn't enjoy it, because I did, more so from the little people's point of view we didn't really do that much due to my knee injury incapacitating me somewhat. So they were just a little bored. We didn't even play another game of monopoly, although moved on to Sorry and a few others instead.

We did manage one more significant activity; a trip to the the Scienceworks, a children's science museum located in Melbourne, some 70 kms from home. The kids were particularly excited because there was a Wallace and Gromit inventions exhibition on and they were rather keen to take a look.

The first thing you need to before going on an outing is to make sure that the thing/place you're going to go to is open. Tick. The second thing is to try and get excited children to get ready. I'm a firm believer in them taking responsibility for themselves. Heck their 7 and 10 and know how to get dressed and brush teeth etc. Still there is a significant effort on my part to strongly encourage them, usually via applying my dulcet tones to a higher volume than normal. Of course the snuggly small one can't do these things for herself (and she still has no teeth to brush anyway) so whilst urging my other charges on, I had to prepare the cute one.

Most her preparation is pretty obvious; nappy, clothes and dummy. Then recheck clothes to ensure she has enough to be warm; do I need her beanie? What about a coat? And then of course there is the packing for her. So much stuff to take including nappies, bags for used nappies, wipes, spare clothes, a bib, toys, change mat, dog collar...hang on what the heck is that doing in the nappy bag? Bloody kids....where was I? Food, bowl, spoon, pusher, blanket, spare plastic bags for god knows what, spare dummy, dummy chain, baby bjorn and probably other stuff I forgot.

Oh and always have a plan B, but more on that later.

"Have you got your iPods?"

In this day and age its easy to entertain older kids whilst going on a drive. Sure there are always books (for those that don't get car sick), car games like eye-spy and car cricket, and small toys with which they can play, but this is the age of handheld electronic device, and its brilliant; namely because it shuts them up.

When I was a child car trips were something a bit like this:

iPods and the like mean those days are over!

When we arrived at Scienceworks we found it just a wee bit busy. As we carefully tried to shark a car space we noted that the line we all the way around the building. That's a damn lot of people! It's ok, we'll get in, I'll just keep looking for that car park. er, no? No car parks within at least 500 metres, well stuff that, time to unveil plan B.

It's important to be able to quickly summarise the situation and make a call, otherwise arguments and kids getting upset (and noisy) will happen. And nobody wants that. So we made a call. That's right we. I've found the best way to deal with my kids in these situations is to lead them to the decision you want to make, but get them to think they are making it. So I involved them in the decision making process, all the while driving toward our new destination, the Museum. Even though it was another 20 minutes or so in the car, and there was no Wallace and Gromit exhibition there, it wasn't a difficult decision to lead them them to. "Do you want to go ALL the way home without having done anything?" "We could go to the Museum, it's not that far." "And there's a really good ice cream shop right by there." and so the decision was made, and the best thing was that I got to get some awesome Tiramisu ice cream, and yes that was always part of my plan B. Having a plan B is very important, because it aids in avoiding the upset children (and strangely often leads me to having nice ice cream).

So we did the museum thing, we got ice creams, we had lunch in a lovely park (in the drizzle); and we went home again. All in all a great day out. Thanks plan B! You're a life saver.

Oh and one thing, think really hard about the types of outings you might go on, because if you ignore the fact that its school holidays you could be in for a rude shock. Never go to Scienceworks on school holidays. Lesson learned.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Me time, where art thou?

It's been over a week since my last blog post and in all honesty, for the first time I've not had time. So here I am early on Sunday morning typing away whilst the wee ones and Lord Vader are blissfully asleep.

So yes, the last week has been busy, why I hear you ask, quite simply because it has been school holidays which means I have all three of the little people at home. Originally I had thought that due to having an infestation of small people, I might actually have more time to myself, mainly because the eldest two are pretty self contained and really enjoy playing with the cutest one. However once again my optimism has been misplaced.

"Dad can we play a game?"
"Dad can you do drawing with me?"
"Dad can we watch <insert movie/tv show here>?"
"Dad can you read me a story?"
"Dad I'm hungry, can I have something to eat?"
and of course,
"Dad, where's the baby?"

are daily questions. Nay, often they are hourly questions, and there are a lot more besides. The great thing is that I love doing all these and many more things with the kids, just perhaps not all the time, and not without respite. Keeping the little people entertained has become my temporary job. Yes it is lovely to see the older pair all the time but really is it asking too much to have a tiny amount of personal time during the day? Apparently, yes, yes it is.

Therefore my days have been filled with monopoly, boggle and other board games, children's TV (which for those of you who know me isn't a bad thing), Dr Who repeats (see immediate past bracketed comment), fetching and preparing snacks, including force feeding the boy fruit which he abhors, trying to palm the cutest one off onto the elder ones (with only moderate and short lived success), and all the while trying to keep house in order and get dinner on table to satisfy she-who-has-begun-to-don-a-black-helmet. Speaking of which and with reference to my last post, yesterday I apparently put the towels in the linen cupboard the wrong way; and here I was thinking I had not only been folding the towels in the right way but was continuing the right thing by actually putting them away too, but alas no. Most of the above list (pre-towel tangent) has been fantastic fun, other than not being able to get my accustomed me time. I like me time. I like it a lot. I like it so much I have been known to take a days recreational leave from work (the paid variety) to do nothing at all but stuff I want to do, as opposed to using it for errands, jobs, looking after sick children and even holidays. Me time is really important. It gives you a mental and sometimes physical refresh and prepares you for the rest of the day, or winds you down when you need it.

However there is a certain monotony to playing monopoly every day, so to break things up I planned or rather thought about, because planning implies dates, schedules, activities etc, taking the kids on outings. Perhaps a trip to the cinema, or the science museum for example. We managed one such outing, mini-golf, and it was enjoyed by one and all, especially me because I won; I don't believe in mollycoddling the children and letting them win because losing is a valuable lesson in coping with things not going your way and can may instil the fire in your belly to try harder next time and beat the "old man", oh and the boy had already beaten me three times in a row at monopoly and I don't like losing. And yes I'm sure there is an argument to support letting them win, something about confidence, but meh, I'll ignore that for now.

Unfortunately a knee injury whilst playing basketball (whilst on me time, a regular, planned, weekly me time which is very different to extra bonus me time) has meant that outings have been postponed until I can walk properly. Yet every cloud has a silver lining and I once again got to practice becoming a martyr and because my darling elder children are compassionate they take pity on their father and willingly help at any opportunity. However She-with-new-found-respiratory-problem is too wily; more martyrdom practice necessary for me. Anyway it looks like I'll have opportunity to get my revenge on the boy and defeat him in monopoly.