Friday, January 29, 2010

A sudden influx of patience

As I was struggling to get James to accept the mask of the nebulizer over his face (he used to like this, see left), and James protested and scratched and threw himself around, Isabel began to express her displeasure with this summary treatment of her brother. Barely noticing the escalating screaming coming from somewhere to the right as I concentrated on trying to get some of that albuterol in James, there was a sudden burst of surprise and horror from the floor. Isabel, in her distress, had thrown herself from the rocking chair, headfirst onto the milk crate holding toys, and was now crying disconsolately on the floor. As I abandoned the dinosaur mask and rushed to hold her, James sat on the edge of the bed, shudderingly crying softly. That's it, I thought.

On some days, the "That's it." would have meant something entirely different. That's it. I've had it. I want to go into my own room, cry for a little, then surround myself with my down comforter and read something that has nothing whatsoever to do with children, while my husband comes home to rescue the kids from a mother who can no longer accept the terrible consequences of trying to do the right thing. I don't think I've ever asked him to do that, but I've certainly gone to my room and to bed until some little thing came toddling after me to peek at me under the covers.
Today, though, it didn't mean that. It was a like a blanket coming down on me, that made me feel lighter, not heavier. It meant, I'm not doing this anymore. I've always thought I've been pretty good at discerning which battles needed to be fought where my kids were concerned, and have congratulated myself on the many things that I haven't deemed worthy of my own specific control on the outcome. Spilled drinks are taken away, and aren't lectured over. Uneaten food is not insisted on. Sometimes, James doesn't have to sit in his car seat right away, but can pretend to drive for a minute, even when we're late to preschool. But this was a battle I thought I needed to fight. James was coughing more, and it's true, it did seem that James wasn't as enthusiastic over putting the dinosaur mask as he used to be, but it was only for a few minutes. Still, drastic consequences ensued--worse, surely, than more coughing and discomfort.

So we quit it. Everyone went to go watch Elmo. The nebulizer came too, and got plugged in, and sat with us. James didn't trust me at first, but within a few seconds, he sat in front of me and leaned back, the mask a few inches from his fingers. After the first skit, his fingers found it, looked at it, and put it away from him. After the second skit, I put it on my mouth. "Dinosaur!" I cried, and roared quietly. After a few repetitions, Isabel wanted to try. She did the same. We took turns over the next couple of skits, and I could see James smiling and eyeing us out of the corner of my eye. On my next turn, he grabbed it from me and put it on his face. I exhaled happily. We all took turns for a while. I turned the nebulizer on. James moved away and sat on the floor. Isabel and I took two short turns, Isabel holding it away from her face, and me too. Then we turned it off, and I packed it up. Little by little, but no more holding him.
It's true that he used to be used to it. But now, he isn't. The same at the doctor's office today, with the oximeter, the otoscope, and the thermometer. He was such a pro. But now, the only thing he trusts is the stethoscope. But we can start over again. And it can take a long time, and we may even have to start again sometime after that. And even though James wanted a bath, and ran away when I started the water and didn't come back, Isabel got one. And she got the most patient mother she's ever had. Everybody's asleep now. It's amazing to me, how when I felt everything was going wrong, suddenly patience descended, instead of withdrawal, or tears. Everything moved in slow motion, and it suddenly seemed that we had a great deal of time to work this out, and that there wasn't any rush. I hope it comes again--I really appreciated the visit. And so, I'm sure, did the kids.

1 comment:

Urania said...

Im glad you found your patience today.. The nebulizer is so hard around her when I have to do it for Emma, she cries the whole time.. She is still small enough to pin down, but I hate doing it.

Hope the rest of your day was calm.