Friday, October 27, 2006

Patience is a virtue

My daughter is sick. She has never before been quite as sick as she is now. She's had her share of colds and sniffles and mild stomach problems, but this one takes the cake. It's so sad. She has been sick since Sunday afternoon and really doesn't show much sign of improvement at this point. And she's 14 months old, so I can't exactly reason with her and explain why I can't give her very much food at a time. I do explain why, but I don't think she understands. Every time I give her any food - little strips of toast, chicken soup, crackers - she devours it. I know she is hungry, and that breaks my heart. Large quantities of food - well, really, any amount of food - results in very obvious sickness, so we've got to keep it small at this point. Poor thing. She has watched more television this week than in her entire 14 previous months. We don't let her watch TV except when she is sick. I have refamiliarized myself with the PBS kids' programming and the cast of Veggie Tales. This week has made me very pleased that we haven't relied on TV for Elise's entertainment. It really is passive entertainment (quite appropriate for illness, I think), and it is so annoying. I'm not used to having the television on during the day. I suppose I am used to a pretty quiet house. The constant noise and the catchy theme songs give me a headache.

It is not particularly easy to care for a sick toddler. It is not particularly difficult, either. It just requires patience, something that has always been in short supply for me. There have been a couple of days this week when Elise could only sleep when she was being held. Since rest is important for healing, Elise and I spent those days primarily in the rocking chair. There has been much laundering of blankets and stuffed animals and pajamas, and little laundering of anything else. The highlight of my days has been when my husband gets home in the afternoon. He takes Elise and she usually naps in his arms for a while, and I get to clean! Normally this would not excite me, but I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been this week to clean the kitchen and make the bed. That's pretty much all I've done, aside from the sickness related cleaning, but somehow doing those two things in the afternoon makes me feel productive and normal.

There have been a couple of other wonderful graces this week. My husband has been the primary one. He gets up with Elise in the early morning, allowing me to get a little extra rest. I have two part-time jobs, one at my church and one with a store owned by Chris and Janene. Both jobs can be done mostly from home, but require going to the actual physical locations every now and again. On Wednesday evening, I needed to go to both places. Andy went for me. Isn't he wonderful? The other sanity savers this week have been our friend Denny, who is staying with us until her new apartment is ready for her, my library books, and Elise's early bedtime. Elise loves Denny, and Denny, being the oldest of five, is superb with children. When Denny gets home from work, Elise will curl up in her lap just as readily as she will curl up in mine, a fact which has provided me several moments of respite. On Tuesday, after Elise was in bed, Denny asked if I wanted to go to the library with her. Did I ever! (On the day after Denny arrived in Washington, she did two things: she got a Washington drivers license and a King County library card. The next day, she asked us to show her where the nearest Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores were. That girl has good priorities.) I spent a beautiful hour browsing through the books, and then another 15 minutes browsing through the ice cream at Safeway. I came home with a stack of books that are easy to thumb through while holding a sleeping child, one book that would work wonderfully as a doorstop, and a pint of Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream. And finally, the last thing that has made this week better is Elise's bedtime. Amazingly, she has not awakened during the night while she has been sick. In fact, we had to wake her up once at 2:30 because she had been sick and had gone back to sleep without making a peep. So every night at 6:30, I change her diaper and her clothes, we say goodnight to Daddy and Denny, get a drink of water, pray, I put her to bed, and then I sigh in sweet relief. The next few hours are spent in adult conversation, sewing, cleaning, reading, watching movies...anything but changing diapers, wiping little noses, and documenting Elise's bodily fluid activity.

The doorstop book, in case you are wondering, is Paul Johnson's Art: A New History. Wow. I picked it up at the library because Bob has reviewed and recommended Johnson's books. Bob is a rather prolific reader, and I enjoy reading his book reviews. His comments on Johnson's books have made me want to read them. I was surprised to find 28 matches to my search for this particular Paul Johnson (there are several authors by that name). Apparently this guy has been writing for quite some time. Anyway, the art history book was the only one of the books that Bob has reviewed that my library had available on Tuesday evening, so I got it. Good golly. When I took the book off the shelf, all of the other books fell to the right. It is huge. This will probably end up being one that I check out many times before I finish it.

This post has taken several hours to write, punctuated by changing a diaper, rocking a baby to sleep (twice), and having a phone conversation with my dad. Elise is awake now, so I'd best be finding something for her to eat.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I checked the book out once, renewed it, kept it 'til it was overdue, returned it and then checked it out again and finished it. It was a bit too much for one go.