Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day

We needed to make a decision. We faced two less-than-ideal choices: drive Jay to and from daycare today (it adds a half hour to Laura’s commute each way), with a foot of snow accumulating throughout the day, or leave him at home with a one-legged old dad.  I have dealt with the “old” part since he showed up in our world. The one-legged part would be harder. But, it seemed safer than driving him around in these conditions. I would have more control here than Laura would have on the roads. So, today Jay and I would spend our first day at home together since before the surgery.

We got off to a good start. I heard a quiet “Daddy?” from his room at 6:20 this morning. I crutched in, and he smiled from ear to ear. “Daddy!!!” I propped my crutches on his crib and picked him up. He wrapped his arms as far around me as he could and squeezed.  “Daddy daddy!!!” I kissed him, and squeezed back.

“Can I give you a freshy?” As in fresh diaper. Most of us would find this desirable.

“No, thanks.” Oh, fighting with manners. I should be so proud. Okay, actually, I was. Less and less often it happens that he just screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” at a pitch that short-circuits my hearing aid. “No, thanks” is such a mark of progress.

But, I still wanted to change this diaper. If Laura came in from feeding the horses and he was still in his overnight diaper, well, it’d be a one-sided conversation.

“Are you SURE you don’t want a freshy? It’ll feel really nice.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhtayyyyyyy.” My mind flashed to Eddie Murphy’s SNL portrayals of Buckwheat from the Little Rascals.

“Lie down?” He obliged by plopping face-down and snuggling onto a pillow. “Roll over for Daddy?” He did so and giggled. Toying with daddy. What fun.

A quick change, and we were up and at ‘em. Mommy came in, and they did their excited morning huggy kissy thing. He had some milk and a banana for breakfast. Laura left for work, and we settled into the day. After about an hour he waddled over with his sleeper unzipped and around his knees. He’s working on dressing/ undressing himself. “It’s too hot.” I agreed, and helped him out of it.

We went to his room to find some clothes for the day. His diaper was wet, so pulled it off. I looked in his dresser for something to wear. I glanced over, and he had the pads from the glider rocker and footstool spread out on the floor. Wearing nothing but a tee-shirt, he was diving onto the pads, singing “Frosty the Snowman” at the top of his lungs. I hoped it was a coincidence that he grabbed his willy when he sang “a button nose”. I dug out a pair of soft black sweat pants for him, and sat back to watch the show.

He sang and jumped for about 15 minutes, and eventually relented to a new diaper. I grabbed a second pair of sweats so he could choose what to wear. He went with the original black pair, but if there hadn’t been a choice he’d still be bottomless.

We had some background TV on, and sang and danced to the music of the TV shows or his toys, depending on what was more energetic. He eventually wandered off to play with the cat.

A short while later I was taking care of my own personal business, reading Atlantic Magazine from the comfort of my “thinking chair.” I heard him yelling excitedly.

“Daddy daddy! I’m splashing the water!!!!!! Daddy, I’m splashing the water!!!!”


I couldn’t see him, but I knew exactly what’s happening. The cat’s wand toy is great for splashing in the water bowl, and the coverage it gives is FANTASTIC. Except for slippery toddler feet and a one-legged dad. I finished my job and headed out to assess the situation.

Sure enough, most of the water bowl was now smeared all over the tile floor. I put down the crutches and knelt. Jay had already relinquished the toy (saving me a fight over it), and was busy admiring his work. “It’s slippery”, he noted, almost analytically and with some pride.

Yes, honey, it’s slippery. And then he went down. Not too bad, but maybe, just maybe, enough to help him realize it could be a problem to soak a tile floor. I kissed his elbow, and knee-walked into the kitchen. I grabbed a towel and dried the floor.  Jay was already off to something else. I had moved into reactive, vs. proactive mode. It was time to slow things down a touch.

We watched the Blue’s Clues episode “Blue Goes to the Doctor”. He sat down and watched intently. After going to my appointment with me yesterday, there was much to learn from this. By day’s end, we would repeat this episode two more times at Jay’s request.

Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics states that “the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.” Entropy is a fancy science word for randomness. The basic idea is that the universe is always moving itself toward total randomness.

Our home was definitely an isolated system today, and Newton’s Second Law has been hard at work. As the day has moved on, the toys have moved out. Thomas trains, cat toys, Brain Quest flash cards for toddlers. Laminated placemats. A football-sized stuffed pink and white fish that sing some demented “kissy kissy” song when its dorsal fin gets a squeeze. Melissa and Doug plastic fruit. More trains. A pull-along helicopter. Harmonica. It’s a crutching nightmare. After a quick “clean-up clean-up”, we found a path and I felt a bit better.

I lost it just once but it was once too many. At the mid-morning dirty diaper change, I surprised myself by enticing him into his room for the change (it’s usually a fight, and he knows I can’t pick him up and carry him). I thought we were cruising. Once the diaper was halfway off, and I could see we were going to be a while, he changed his mind about the whole thing. His timing was perfect. The mess was significant, including my hands. This is what keeps some people from having kids. I raised my voice. A lot. Of COURSE it didn’t work. It never does. It just escalated the whole encounter. I was a mess anyway, so I cradled him in half-restraint/ half hug. The pressure calmed him, and he said “I’m sorry”

“Me too. Can we finish?”

“Yes, daddy.”

We did finish, and I set him free while I cleaned up. I washed my hands and arms, and went back out to the living room. I asked “Got any kisses?”

He smiled and ran over, puckered up like the pink and white stuffed fish. Kissy kissy. All better.

He said “My tummy’s hungry.” I should have known. It’s not like we starve him, but his attitude is usually food-mediated.

“How about a sandwich?” He nodded vigorously. We shared a pbj and some milk.

We’re approaching nap time.  It’s a critical point in the day, one which will hold great sway over how the end of the day goes. No nap, no peace. I’m hoping that if I lie down and get quiet, it’ll be enough for him to curl up with me and nod off.

There has already been a great deal of “This too shall pass” today. Some of it in the thankful sense, some more wistful and cherished. If he is still bouncing bottomless and singing “Frosty” in his room in fifteen years, I hope I don’t find out about it. But, I will miss these days when it seems perfectly appropriate and joyous. I won’t miss dirty diapers, but I also know the best way to slow him down in any form of progress is to try to hurry him. He’ll get there when he wants to. Hopefully in fifteen years we will still enjoy a pbj sandwich and milk together.

These crutches are a symptom of the plan to get healthier so I can last that long. I am enjoying today more than I have enjoyed a day at home with Jay in a long time. It’s been lonely here the past two weeks, and I can tell he has missed it too. With some luck, Laura may get home early enough to take him out on the snow.

Jay has just crawled onto my lap and yawned. Time to sign off.

Enjoy the snow.

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