A week ago the phone rang and it was the art teacher from Boulevard school. Maggie was supposed to stay after school for an activity but wasn't feeling well. She was in the nurse's office. Could I come get her.

Maggie in the nurse's office. That's unusual. When she was in kindergarten she used to get bloody noses so she end up there now and then. But nothing like Elena. Elena loved the nurse's office. She would find a reason to be there all the time. From time o time she would actually need to be there, but mostly she was escorting other children there to help them get taken care of. She would bring someone in from the playground who needed attention and show them the ropes.

Maggie was lying down with a heating pad on her stomach looking sick. The nurse explained that it was probably the flu but that we should get a strep test. Kim picked up some ginger ale and motrin on the way home from work and we got Maggie set up on the couch downstairs. She looked so pitiful.

Probably just the flu.

Yeah that's what we'd thought a couple of months before with Elena. And it was initially just the flu. As Maggie sat up to vomit into the same trash can Elena had back in February Kim and I each struggled internally not to over react while trying to be careful not to under react. So many things we couldn't say out loud. Each of us reliving that horrible February afternoon when Elena didn't look so bad.

Just the flu.

Kim slept on the other couch. She couldn't leave Maggie and didn't want to wake her to make her go up to her bed to sleep. In the morning Maggie felt fine and looked much better. I wanted to send her to school but instead Kim took her to the scheduled doctor's appointment. Everything was fine.

It was a scene in a horror film where the music swells and the strings screetch and you're sure that something lurks behind the door that the hero is about to open – but there isn't. They open the door and nothing is there. So we relax and then something jumps out at us.

Me, I turn it off or change the channel. I don't think I can take any more surprises right now.

Published in: on May 12, 2006 at 5:58 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Second guessing yourself is understandable given the circumstances…

  2. No body tells you when you have babies that the hard part of raising them isn’t when they are tiny and helpless or small and vulnerable. The hard part is when they grow bigger and can and do make choices for themselves that are potentially bad enough to cause lasting damage…and you can’t do anything but love them and pray they’ll be okay. Its not the hard part because of all that risk you witness. Its the hard part because its necessary for you as a parent to suspend your personal fears (at least when they are looking in your direction) to allow them to grow up fearless and brave. It costs nearly *every* scrap of self-control sometimes not to hover. There is a nobility in making the effort that good parents share.

    I was unaware of all of this growing up. For instance it wasn’t until recently that I learned my Mother is irrationally afraid of horses, because they are so large and can seriously hurt a person without meaning to…and yet she cheerfully sent me off to two weeks of summer camp to ride horses every year of my girlhood. What did that cost her, after I was out of her line of sight? I imagine her crying in her car after the bus has pulled away (as I did myself after putting my son on his first solo plane ride at 5 years old…and last year as he drove away from the house on a road trip for the first time by himself at 19).

    I know plenty of parents who succumb to their own fears and pass them on, but I have to pause to honor you and Kim for holding your so recent fears in check and allowing Maggie just be a kid home for a day with the flu. You two are amazing parents!


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