Little Molly was sick, but not enough to warrant ER-in-the-middle-of-the-night concern. At least we didn’t think so at the time. Her cough was thick and her breathing quick, but not so fast as to be alarmed.
As the hours passed, her symptoms worsened. Had it been daytime, I would have taken her to the pediatrician, or at least called the office for advice from the nurse. But it was late, and at that point in our parenting journey, we had no experience with after-hours clinics.
When her fever hit 103, though, I called our insurance company’s emergency nursing hotline. If her fever goes above 104, take her to the ER, the nurse calmly told me.
Thankfully, it never got that high. But Molly was miserable. Sleep was out of the question, at least for awhile.
On a recent trip to the library, we had checked out a Jay Jay the Jet Plane video. Jay Jay’s not the most exciting entertainer on the planet, but that’s what we had, so that’s what we put in the DVD player when we went downstairs to the den to pass the wakeful hours that night.
I sprawled in the chair, legs outstretched on the ottoman. Molly lay on top of me, well positioned to watch the video. I dozed while she watched, on and on. I don’t recall how long we stayed like that—maybe hours, maybe not. I eventually took her back to bed, where she finally fell asleep.
I also went to bed, knowing that our morning plans would include the earliest appointment we could get at our pediatrician’s office.
You always know it was more serious than you originally thought when the doctor says, “It’s a good thing you brought her in this morning.” Molly felt much better after a breathing treatment, and we went home with a diagnosis of cold-induced asthma and our own personal nebulizer.
All these years later, we could second guess ourselves, wonder if we should have done things differently or even feel guilty about how we handled the situation. But we don’t. Not really.
We did what we thought best, based on the information we had at the time. Given new information, and guided by a wonderful pediatrician who has asthma herself, we handle her symptoms differently now.
That’s part of life, part of a parent’s learning curve. But still, I doubt neither Randy nor I will ever forget it.
Not surprisingly, this experience also is securely stored in Molly’s long-term memory bank, but maybe not for the most obvious reasons.
Long after she passed the target age for Jay Jay the Jet Plane, she would occasionally check out another one of his videos when we went to the library. And knowing my daughter like I do, I have a little theory about why she did this.
It wasn’t her great love of animated airplanes or cheesy children’s videos that made her do it. Nor was it to help her remember how truly sick and miserable she was that night.
I think she brought Jay Jay home because, on some subconscious level, it represented those hours of comfort, love and closeness the two of us experienced that night in the den.
I feel the same way when I look at my grocery list spreadsheet (yes, I do have one) and see little notes I typed for Randy when he did the shopping while I was recovering from surgery several years ago.
Next to grapes: “Make sure they are firm.”
Next to cheese: “Ask Molly, she knows.”
Those notes could remind me of how my scheduled out-patient surgery resulted in a five-day stay in the hospital, and the frustration I felt while I was lying there waiting for my intestines to fuse back together after some of them were unexpectedly removed.
Instead, they remind me of how lovingly Randy cared for me and the girls while I was recovering.
This has nothing to do with rose-colored glasses or half-full glasses (although Molly and I both trend toward the latter when it comes to our outlook on life).
It’s about finding the blessings in the hard, subconsciously and intentionally.