Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Magic.

Somewhere between my thankful Thanksgiving and my sinus-busting winter cold, I performed a motherly miracle.  I believe that every mother manages a few miracles at some point in her earthly life.  I am not being sarcastic or snarky.  Honestly.  I realize that those truly holy miracle-workers and the saints are on an entirely other level, but the every-day mothers of this world also have their small miracles or at the very least, magic.  And sometimes these special instances are just so necessary.  This one is mine.

Thanksgiving definitely just our speed...  a lovely conjunctivitis bug floating around, which would later visit the house weeks later again.  But this first round of "pink eye" brings nothing but the typical holiday commotion.  Monday morning of the week of Thanksgiving, I wake up a tad later than usual.  My husband is kind enough to get up with the boys and get the day underway before he needs to head out.  I greet the favorite men of my life at the breakfast bar where the two littlest ones are sloshing cereal around, some of it actually getting into their littlest mouths.  Their pajamas have a spattering of liquid where the milk has dribbled onto their chests.  My husband is brewing a cups of coffee for us.  I rub my eyes and yawn.  As I refocus, I notice Michael has one eye that is considerably bloodshot.  A waive of ruination comes over me.  "Oh no," I gasp as I lean in to examine his eye more closely.  Smooth mom move, I know.  I sometimes have a hard time with subtlety.  Especially at 8 am and no coffee.

"Michael has pink eye."

My husband, a professional skeptic replies, "That's not pink eye."  He shrugs.

Pffft.  Like he knows.  His doubt aggravates me.  His words hang in the air over me.  I know he is wrong and I am right.  I punctuate my opinion with a sip of my fresh cup of coffee with an warning eyebrow raised above it.  I send him off on his day wishing him a good one.  I know I am calling the pediatrician's office as soon as they open.  This is not the way Michael's eye normally looks at this time of day or any time of the day for that matter.  Surely I am not willing to mess around with highly contagious pink eye and visitors arriving this afternoon!

Our friends are making the long trek from Chicago and are scheduled to arrive by late afternoon to celebrate thanksgiving with us.  They have a three-year-old daughter and I just know that pink eye is the LAST THING we need in this house.  I think through the ways I can locate HAZMAT suits before they arrive.  Or more a possibility than that, if I can get the coveted antibiotic eye drops in this kid immediately he will be fine.

I call the doctor's office at 8:30 am SHARP.  I explain the situation to the receptionist and am told politely that a nurse will be calling me shortly.  The time passes.  It's excruciating.  I clearly explain to Michael that he cannot share toys with Dylan and should either stay in his room playing or sit nicely on the couch and can watch a movie.  He is a really good little boy and understands the nature of "contagiousness".  He follows my directions.  "No, no, Dylan.  I cannot play with you.  You can't play with my toys.  I have PINK EYE."  Michael wags his finger at Dylan as if a stern warning.  He is loving this authority.

As time passes, both of Michael's are now bloodshot.  Worse yet, both eyes are now starting to shed goop.  I am panicking.  Two hours later, I still have not heard from the nurses at the doctor's office, so I decide to call again.  I explain the situation, again, and ask that they call in a prescription as soon as possible.  I am politely told a nurse will call me.

By 11:30 am, I am full-blown anxious.  I call again, knowing that they will be going on lunchbreak soon.  If so, then I am COMPLETELY screwed and Thanksgiving will be a total mess (as if it isn't already?!).  I am transferred to someone I assume is a nurse.  Instead they take the information down and tell me they will call me.

I am frayed by this point.  I look at Michael and his eyes are swollen and red.  There are rings under his eyes that are red, and the are streams of green ooze creeping onto his cheeks.  I wipe, rewipe and wash my hands diligently with soap.  REPEAT.  Over and over.

FINALLY, I get the call that eye drops are being called in at the pharmacy.  Like a maniac, I throw the boys in the car and tear over to the drive-thru pharmacy.  Dylan has fallen asleep and now I am racing to get home and get these drops in Michael's eyes.  I can't bear the wait.

I pull over in a Starbucks parking lot, throw the car in park, and get out.  I rip the medicine out of the bag, out of the box and tear off the seal.  I explain to Michael gently to tilt his head just so and to not rub his eyes.  He is brave.  The eagle has landed.  The kids is medicated.  But not in the 24-hour window that I had hoped so he wouldn't be "contagious" and now can't attend his Thanksgiving feast tomorrow at school with his friends.

Our visitors arrive and Michael looks like a total and complete mess.  But we are so happy to see them and have a ton of fun and laughter.  Oh and some jolly good handwashing too.  My hands are cracking from the insane handwashing.  But the kid is medicated.

Within days, our friend's little girl's eye is swelling and she starts with medicated eye drops.  We are all staring slowly at each other through out the days, waiting to catch a glimpse of the next victim.  There are countless comments...  "Here look at this."  "Does this look red to you?"  "I think my eye is itching."  And my favorite, "Don't touch your eye."

Thanksgiving itself is fun.  A good meal with good food and good friends. We are grateful to be with them and that they made the 12-hour journey to visit us.  We say our blessings for our family and friends near and far.  And one last prayer of thanks that we haven't had a complete breakout of the contagion for the Thanksgiving holiday, just a minor one.

The time passes much too quickly.  Our friends depart the day following Thanksgiving.  Just in time for Dylan's sweet little eye to start swelling.  By 4 pm, it looks at though he has been punched in the eye by a heavy-weight boxer.  His eye is tearing, bloodshot, and starting to goop.  Oh great.  And here I thought we dodged a bullet with only one of them getting pink eye.

Tis the Season.  GROAN.

While many others decide to raid the stores for Black Friday and the weekend, I find myself in bed.  I feel cruddy, exhausted.  No pink eye for me...  instead, I start a sore throat that is evil and wretched.  My husband gives me the rest I need and handles the busy boys through the weekend.  But Monday comes and slams me in the face.  It is a painful reality, when my husband heads out the door for work and and I feel like roadkill.  I probably look like it too.  And to make matters worse he is leaving town for three days.

With all that comes, it too goes.  At least Michael returns to school after the holiday, too.  So in theory I can get a bit of rest while he is at school.  Only problem is that Dylan doesn't nap.  This two-year-old has argued and fought naps for months.  He is exhausted and either collapses at 4 pm doing his CF treatments or he is wired and can't fall asleep until late at night, in which case is he is a total mess.  To get my sweet little boy to nap, is a delicate, complex set of variables, usually which is never quite the right balance.  I am convinced he has very hard time turning off his brain to rest...  more over, it's hard for him to sit still.  Usually when he does, that's when he'll pass out.

In my sick state, Michael excitedly lectures me on getting all the Christmas decor up.  I battle through and try to enjoy the time hanging up the shiny ornaments and the sparkling stars with him.  I really love Christmas, I only wish that I could feel better.

Upon Michael's return to school, there is a day a thought occurs to me, even in my gray haze.   I know that I have a limited window of Christmas shopping with my husband's travels and as awful as I feel, I think, "Well, at least I will be out of the house.  I haven't left the house in days..."  I know that I can drop Michael off at school and get to Toys R Us for a quick trip with Dylan.  Heavens knows, I refuse to go within 5 miles of that store during the busiest hours.  I have dodged the Black Friday crazies and hope to avoid the working parents shopping after they wrap up business at their offices.

I figure that even if I don't actually make purchases at least this way I can peruse options.  Thankfully, Dylan is not a gift kid.  He is not a whiner, he really could care less about getting something new at a store.  I figure at the very least, I can tell him no, but can get my bearings for Santa's treasures.

As I pull away from the school, I watch Dylan's heavy, drowsy expression.  His little eyes blink slowly fighting off Mr. Sandman.  His blinking becomes longer each time until his eyes don't reopen.  Great, my inner monologue snorts.  Now, what I am going to do?  Again, I figure I can put him in the stroller and take inventory of gift options.

I head off to the toy store.  A cool nasty drizzle comes in drifts and I just know Dylan is going to wake up when I take him out of his car seat.  As I park the car, I hop out and grab the stroller and set it up.  I rustle around the back of my SUV looking for the visor.  It is nowhere to be found.  If I am going to put him in the stroller, I don't have the one major prop that I need to shield him from the misty rain.  Cars whoosh past and horns honk in the distance.  Dylan doesn't stir.  I slowly hold my breath, and unsnap the buckles to his carseat.  Then I jostle his arms loose of the harness and carefully lift him out of the seat.  As I set him in the stroller, flecks of rain land on his forehead, his nose and his cheeks.  He doesn't even flinch.  Huh.

A car flies by on the busy mall road and stirs a loud sloshing sound of rainy pavement.  Dylan doesn't move.  I let my breath out that I was still unintentionally holding.  No point.  Nothing is waking this kid up.

I quickly shove the stroller into "go" mode and head into the store.  I am met with the glaring overhead warehouse lighting and the Christmas mania of Toys R Us.  Every kind of toy within view.  The first few displays are bustling.  Red and green paint the shelves and the toys.  I see hula hoops, LEGOs, boardgames, and stocking stuffers.  My brain is on overload.  I see dolls, cars, trucks, blocks and more.  Since 75% of my brain power is being sucked up by this nasty virus and my sinuses are my worst enemies, I have very little cognition to work with.  I fight the visual overload, press my thumb into my throbbing forehead, and grab a hand basket.  It is a precarious exercise a juggling my hold on the basket, lugging my purse on my shoulder and steering my 37 pound child in the stroller with requires both hands.

Dylan is slumped and laying back in the stroller in dreamland.  His mouth is open and his eyes locked shut.  I start the mission.  Go!

I head to the LEGOs I reason through in my brain what sets are appropriate, I do the mental math of the buy one get one half off deal of the day.  Turns out it is the same that would go on every day until Christmas, so I am no fool.  I re-evaluate what is on Michael's wishlist.  I grab a couple small boxes and then  I head to the other goodies.  I find a couple interesting puzzles for Dylan.  I mentally scan the options and review the puzzles Dylan already has.  I quickly grab 3 and shove them in my basket.  I then turn to go to the display for the toys Michael has set his heart on this Christmas.  His beloved Star Wars action figures.  I had researched and found an age appropriate version of the Star Wars famed Millennium Falcon and action figures.  As I stroll up, I am greeted by an empty shelf.  WHAT????

The preschool version of the Star Wars toys are all gone.  I don't think there was a deal on them and have no clue that they were popular.  Or maybe I am just unlucky.  Probably the latter.  I take a deep sigh and realize that I need to head back to the front of the store to talk with someone at the customer service desk.  As I wheel the stroller around I am met with countless other parents whose kids are presumably at school and are loading up their carts or coming right at me.  I just love going against the incoming traffic of other carts.  I dodge and swoop past them.  They got nothing on these stroller moves.

As I make my way to the front of the store and Dylan is still sound asleep, other parents laugh and snicker as we pass.  They know that I am pulling off a daring attempt at a holiday task...  a three-year-old asleep in a toy store, while Mom is doing the stealth Christmas shopping.  They make eye contact with me and chuckle or turn to each other and comment and point.  I realize in my haste that they think this is really funny.  And it is, I just don't have time to think about it.  I am frantic to have it be over.  I just want to wrap up and get out of here.

I firmly push forward on my mission.  The hour-glass is fading and I am certain he will wake up.  I am now in it up to my eyeballs and there's no turning back.  I am officially putting things in this basket and if he wakes up the magic will be lost.  The well-being of Christmas's future for our family hangs in the balance.  All could be lost.  I cannot have my last born never truly believe at Christmas time, because I am a schmuck of a mom and ruined it for him when he was two years old.  I am greeted by a line at the customer service counter.  I feel myself self start sweating from the stress and panic.  A trickle of sweat drips down my neck.

A little girl is sitting quietly in a cart in front of us with her mother next to the cart.  She is probably about four years old and has a prominent frown across her face.  She is sulking.  The little girl spots Dylan sleeping in the stroller and decided to yell something indiscernible at him.  My heart seizes and I glance with fear at her mother.  Her mother smiles at me firmly and whispers something to hush the girl.  I shift hard and try to wipe the sweat that is forming along my brown with some body part.  I don't know which one since my hands are holding toys, my purse and still navigating my sleep angel.

When it's our turn we arrive at the counter where a young girl greets us.  She is immediately helpful, spying Dylan and realizing the coup that is taking place.  She calls to the stock room to locate the toys I am looking for.  I feel the Santa inside me giggle.  I just might be able to make this happen.

Within minutes a teenage boy plunks a nondescript box down near the counter.  He rips the box open and places it directly in front of me.  Jackpot!  I shuffle through the figures nd I find the large spaceship that I am certain Michael will love along with the important characters.  As I dump the  items in my hand basket, my arm starts to quiver and shake.  The toys are piled up and even though I have strategically placed them in the basket they are sliding and starting to fall all over the place.  I whisk the overflowing basket with the Star Wars toys and shove the stroller to the check out aisles right next to the customer service desk where I am standing.  I wheel over and, begin dropping scattered toys on the counter.  I walk back to the customer service desk where a few items had fallen on the floor.

The cashier rings me up swiftly.  I am shaking I am so worked up.  My heart rate is racing and I can barely scribble my signature on the receipt.  Dylan is still fast asleep.  I know that I am close to victory.  So close...

As we walk outside, the ground is still wet and rainy, but there is now a tiny break in the clouds and the sun is beaming through.  The rays are directly on Dylan's face as I unload the packages into the car.  I heft him out of the stroller and place him gently in the carseat.  Like me, he is sweating uncontrollably.  I unzip his jacket and slip it off.  As I start to buckle him into his carseat, he opens his eyes and looks right at me.  He blinks away the sun with a grimace.  I fear the tantrum is coming.  But I am fine with it.  He has never been a happy child after napping.  Usually after a minute of sweetness he tantrums through is groggy fog after nap...  which is lucky these days since at least he got the nap.  This kid NEVER sleeps naps anymore.  So I will take a nap followed by a tantrum any day over no nap.

After I strap Dylan snugly into his car seat and pile the loot in the back under a blanket, I hop in the car and peer back at him.  He is angry, but still staring blankly into space.  I am shocked when I see his droopy gaze soften and then slowly blink back into a slumber.  He is asleep again as I rev the car and pull out of the parking lot.  I am stunned.  I am not getting caught afterall!!  I have accomplished the impossible.

Christmas magic.  And Sneaky Santa.

I laugh quietly and turn on Christmas music.  I am humming along with the jazzy tunes softly...  "Santa Claus is comin' to town..."  My stomach growls loudly over the music.  I realize in all my Christmas spirit, miracle Christmas shopping and brutal headcold, I have forgotten to eat lunch.

I am starving.  Minutes later, I find myself slamming a Wendy's combo meal and slugging the Biggie Coke down.  Crumbs adorn my shirt and the fizz from the soda is somehow reassuring.  I begin laughing as I look back and Dylan is still in a sweet toddler slumber.  The sunlight floods the car as he continues his long rest.

I would later have to stir Dylan and wake him up when I picked Michael up from school.  Dylan tallied a grand total of a two and a half hour nap all considered.  I couldn't have planned that if I tried.  Had I just gone home chances are he would have toddled around, played, cuddled with me and then been a disaster by bedtime.

This, well, I have no idea how I just pulled that one off.  The only explanation of the feat is a Christmas shopping miracle.  A miracle that only a mother can pull off...  filled with jittery nerves, sweat, the right touch, and a little bit of magic.  The kind of magic that only happens this time of year.

I just know Santa would be proud.  Now, next mission... to figure out how to make them go to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Where did I put that magic Elf pixie dust?  I know I laid it around somewhere...