There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. - Santayana

April 9, 2008

I got to be that parent this morning. You know the one. The one who sends her sick, screaming child off to daycare while she and her spouse both trundle off to work. You know the one. The uncaring, rude one. The one about whom other parents say "What could she have been thinking?"

In my defense, however, he asked to go. And he's not all that sick - just a little sniffle (that he caught from my care provider's daughter) and a severe case of diaper rash. But in getting him dressed this morning, you'd think the world was coming to an end.

E has never really suffered from diaper rash. We had one tiny patch of it last summer, but otherwise nothing. I have a tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste that I got at my baby shower that we'd never opened, and that was the only "ointment" in the house. Over the last three days, however, E has developed the most epic case of diaper rash you can imagine. A red, raw bottom that clearly hurts him.

Although E was restless and cranky last night, this morning he was ok until I took off his diaper and put the ointment on. The application of the ointment seemed to be agony for him (his father had to hold his upper body and feet while I put it on), and then he fought and fought and fought against his diaper. Once we had the diaper on, he kept pulling and tugging at it -- "Pooop," he wailed. "Pooop. Pooooop. Poooooooooooop."

"No poop, honey," I told him, "its the medicine. The medicine will make it feel better."

"Poooooooooooop!" More wailing and tugging on his diaper. Then he grabbed my hand and directed it to his bottom. "Poop!" E looked at me with big, pleading eyes. Mamma, there is something yucky in my diaper. Why won't you clean it up?

Finally, knowing the time was ticking by, I laid him back down and decided to remove the ointment that was causing him so much distress. Then, as he's laying on his back and I'm removing his diaper, he sneezed.

And oh! what a sneeze. Panic and consternation from the little boy - clearly his head has just exploded. Tiny hands fly up to wipe away the goo. He opens his mouth to cry out and the mucus from his nose drips directly into the back of his throat, gagging him. I have no choice but to pick him up. He's naked, covered in snot and diaper cream, wailing. There is snot in his mouth, on his hands, all over his face, and in his hair (and, shortly, in mine). He's slippery and hard to hold on to.

All his wants in the world is his dadda, but Daddy is dressed for work and can't pick him up.

Josh and I look at each other. "I'll stay home with him," I say in a somewhat unconvincing tone.

"Can you?"

"Well, not really, no. It would cause a disaster. But we can't send him to Sarah's like this."

Having just started a new job two months ago, I have no sick time accrued, plus I have work that urgently needs to be completed today or disaster will strike, but it is abundantly clear that no one other than his parents should be asked to deal with the wailing, frustrated, miserable toddler I hold in my arms.

"No, I'll stay home," Josh says, equally unconvincingly. He has plenty of sick time, but given that its now nearly 7:30 am it will be difficult to find someone to cover the desk for him on such short notice.

We debate our options (asking one of our parents to watch him, splitting the day), and find that there aren't any. All the while my naked, slimy, squirming, miserable son wails and thrashes in my arms. He desperately wants "down" but I don't want to put him down on the floor until I've cleaned him up, at least a little.

Eventually, E calms down, lets me wrap him in a towel, and we get him cleaned up. Dad has the bright idea of putting some Neosporin on E's bottom, since it has an analgesic in it, and after a moment or two that seems to do the trick. E points towards the door. "Go go bye? Go go bye?"

By this point, E won't let me touch him. (I'm certain he thinks I'm just going to smear some other revolting substance on him.) He picks up his discarded shirt and carries it to his father, all the time repeating "Go go bye?" in an increasingly insistent tone. Dad has E dressed in a flash, and before I know it they're going down the stairs and E is waiving bye-bye to me and blowing kisses as he does every morning.

After they left (I could hear another struggle going on out by the car, but I didn't look out the window to check. I'm assuming E wanted nothing to do with his car-seat.) I sat on the steps for about ten minutes, hoping we'd done the right thing. Tonight when they get home I'll give him an overdue bath, then let him run around pantsless for a while. Hopefully that will encourage things to clear up, at least some.

But now I'm one of "those" parents. And I hope I won't be judged too harshly for it when its nap-time and my son is screaming as his diaper is changed.

Because I'm too busy judging myself harshly, thank you very much.