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My life as a concession stand

March 2nd, 2004 · 2 Comments

I’m kneeling on the multicolored carpet, cleaning Gatorade off of the pediatric clinic’s waiting room floor, mopping up the mess with handfuls of soggy Kleenex. And I find myself thinking about my mother thirty years ago.

Urine is what I want. All that’s on my mind. How to make my daughter give the doctor a sample so we can go home.

She’s had a fever for a day, coinciding with her well-child check-up, and the doctor wants to check whether its a urinary infection. I’m skeptical but I’ll play the game.

A game it is, especially with a toddler. Either of my older two girls would know what to do. But this baby won’t be persuaded easily. First of all, she hasn’t drunk anything all day. What goes in must come out. Conversely what comes out must have gone in. Nothing in = nothing out.

So I’m doing whatever I can to get lemon lime Gatorade down her throat. I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought about bringing a sippy cup but was running late and forgot. I had other plans for the day. I wasn’t prepared for spending my morning at the clinic, persuading my baby to gulp green drink.

Orange juice didn’t get us anywhere but this strange sweet stuff has some appeal to her. I get her in my lap at last. She laughs. When she opens her mouth, I trickle it down to her throat. Success. She thinks it is a game. A game I’m playing with the little paper cup. When I look away for a moment, she scores. Gatorade drenches my pant leg, her pants, the floor.

After a couple cups of Gatorade, I’m exhausted. We’re both wet. An hour has passed since we first started this adventure.

We’re amusing ourselves in the waiting room. I’m grateful the older sisters are understanding. The next option, a catheter, would probably scare all of us. So I want this to work.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her drink. Or pee. So we wait and entice the toddler with whatever we can. Make her comfortable so she won’t resist our tactics. So she’ll relax.

The waiting room has plenty of toys. She feels at home and spins the colored pegs around. She slides the fruit on the table. She plays with the plastic register. She starts to relax. Still the bag is empty.

In the waiting room, we are all beginning to get impatient. The girls want to go home. I’m wet, after two spilled cups on my lap. I’m not sure how we’ll get to dance class on time. I don’t know what to do, what decision to make as a mother.

I remember my mother. How she spent hours in waiting rooms back in the 1970s caring for my brother. I was there too, as big sister, entertaining myself with books, as Abigail is today. How she was pregnant when my brother was so sick. How the waiting rooms were bare, white walled, boring. How she had to pour chocolate milk down his throat. How he’d scream whenever the nurse would find a vein. I can still hear it.

All that’s been done to my daughter was the nurse adhered a collection bag around her bottom. Elisabeth yelps when she lifts her leg. And she’s playing games with me and the Gatorade. But that’s all it is. I have a waiting room filled with interlocking tables of colorful toddler toys. Books galore. An aquarium swimming with clownfish and coral. She has plenty of amusements. Unlike me and my mom in that waiting room years ago.

The nurse comes and we decide to try the sink. We go back into the patient room and put the baby on a chair, turn the water on and let her splash about in the warmth. After a while I take a peek. Good as gold. Time to go home. Thank God.

At home I make lunch quickly before Dance Class. I hurry with a new bottle of mustard. It won’t come out. I won’t wait. I shake and squeeze. Mustard flies across the room. All over the cupboards. The dishwasher. The stove. The wall. My red turtleneck and black pants marked in yellow. It’s a Murphy’s law day. Or maybe its’ Mommy’s law

If I ever tried to bottle Eau de Mommy or perhaps Eau de Maternite it’d have quite a fragrance. In those post-partum days, it’d be a definite whiff of fenugreek and bodily fluids. Later it changes into a muddled mixture of breakfast bits from baby, sucked thumb, mud pies, bike grease, shampoo, sweat and tears. Today though I reek of Gatorade and spicy mustard. Call it Concession Stand Cologne.

Wiping up the mustard though I am calm, after my initial amazement and quick shriek, thinking still of my mother and my brother. Even if I’ve got to kneel on a carpet at the doctor’s office and spill Gatorade on myself, or spray mustard all over my clothes, how can I complain? I’ve got a cake walk compared to caring for a child with cancer. Once I had kids, my mom became amazing. And when my kids are sick, she becomes a saint in my eyes. I’ll never understand all she experienced, but on days like today I taste a tiny bit of it.

I don’t know how she did it.

Tags: motherhood

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steven Noels // Mar 3, 2004 at 2:03 am

    Gee – sounds very familiar. Our baby daughter had this ‘strange’ viral infection, with high fevers for several days in a row, but no apparent disease. So we had to bring in urine samples, I had to lay down on her to press her down while taking blood samples (baby veins are *so* small – and she can be very strong), even got an x-ray of her. In the end, she is just growing out of it – it’s been a few months now since the last time this crazy fevers reappeared. But at the very last, we received a couple reception bags to go home with, and we could simply give her a milk bottle at night, bring on the bag, and have a (very full) sample bag in the morning. So full that we had an ‘explosion’ once, and very wet sheets and clothes to go with that. 🙂

  • 2 Katherine // Mar 3, 2004 at 9:31 am

    I hate that when some (hopefully) simple, routine illness like a cold coincides with a doctor’s visit for something else (or a well check up, even worse). We went in to the doctor’s for a possible asthma case in Emily ( 🙁 sniff), and she happened to have a cold/cough at the time, even though the (?) asthma attacks had all happened at times when she was not otherwise sick (i.e. before this cold set in)…and as I feared, we were told all kinds of things about the cold. Which I am confident will pass in a few days, as all the others have. However, I am also sure I don’t understand medicine like the doctor does, and there are obvious connections between asthma and the breathing problems associated with a cold. It’s just that I wasn’t concerned about the cold, but I am concerned when she can’t breathe but has no other symptoms. This has happened 4 times after exercise now (in the past 2 1/2 years, but becoming more frequent). So we are at the beginning of trying to figure out what to do about that.