I have no doubt that I will enjoy THIS New Year’s Eve a lot more than last year’s.

I have no doubt that I will enjoy THIS New Year’s Eve a lot more than last year’s. Here’s a selection from “Savvy Stories 2: The TERRIBLE Two’s”
December 29, 2012, I wrote on Facebook: I was upstairs folding laundry because the two of them… were downstairs having a coughing contest. (I think whichever ones gets me sick wins a prize.) Makes for a loooooooong weekend.
A few days later, I wrote: Remember that cough I mentioned? That evolved into a trip to the ER, and now pediatric ICU. Kid was having difficulty breathing , may be due to a virus. Fun times. Plus I get to wear a cool gown and mask. Probably gonna be ok in a day or two but maybe no posts for a while.
What happened? Well…
My wife was sick with a head cold and my daughter got one, too, but not from my wife we don’t think. Savvy was fine at swim practice and played with some other kids that day at her grandma’s. None of them were sick or ended up getting sick. But some of the kids’ parents at the pool were discussing this lingering head cold that was going around and one of their kids either currently had it or recently had it. Nobody seemed sick at the time.
Friday afternoon rolls around and the kid has a runny nose and is coughing, but she’s also being fussy, which isn’t really like her. However, if you have a head cold, you might be fussy, so we didn’t pay much attention to it. Also, she hadn’t had a bowel movement in about 24 hours, which is also not like her.
I have never concerned myself so much with another person’s poop.  But after a whole day and a half of not pooping, that could make her fussy, too. Gas pains have been known to make her cry, and it will be a long night. Michele and Savvy had gone shopping in the afternoon, and when they returned, Savvy was whiny and asking for her daddy. Nice, but unusual.
Since both my girls aren’t feeling good, I decide to make a special dinner for them. Well, for my wife. The kid is on Spaghettios, a known laxative, until things loosen up. When you don’t feel good, soup is the thing to have. So I make homemade French onion soup, homemade bread, and homemade escargots, which we really like. This is received well. My daughter eats her Spaghettios pretty late, about 8:30 (late for her, anyway) and there’s not much of an issue. She gets some Tylenol for a persistent, on and off low grade fever, and for her general discomfort and sore throat from the coughing, and she falls asleep on the couch next to us as we watch some TV in the warm glow of the Christmas tree lights.
She naps for about an hour, but wakes up really irritated and fussy. She’s coughing more now, and the low fever is back, so we give her some TLC. Michele holds her on her lap.
No good. She relaxes fox a few minutes but them wants down and starts crawling across the couch to me, and she’s really fussing now. Although she’s soon to be 3 and is pretty articulate, she isn’t being so now. I ask her what’s wrong and she won’t tell me. So I ask her where it hurts and she points to her whole chest and neck area. Okay, she’s got a cold and has been coughing; that will make you sore in your chest, back, throat… We’ve been trying our best to get her to drink lots of fluids but if you have a sore throat you don’t wanna drink much. Also, if you’re constipated, fluids are helpful. But she’s resisting. But there was something in her eyes when she crawled over to me that said “help.”
All this time we’ve been keeping the lights low so she could sleep, but now we turn on some bright lights to have a look at her throat and see what’s what. I don’t remember her facial color being off, but her throat was NOT red as far as I could tell. I went upstairs to get a stethoscope and listened to her lungs, and they sounded clear to me. So I’m thinking she’s okay and it’s just a cough. She needs rest and fluids, plus whatever we want to do for the irritations: sore throat spray (cherry flavored), Tylenol, tea…
But her breathing is now somewhat labored. Now, remember, we’re thinking she has a runny nose and a cough, not emphysema; not being able to breathe isn’t occurring to us. At least not to me. Anyway, this goes on for a while and I know there’s an After Hours pediatric center nearby, so I start looking up their number. I call, and they close at 11pm. It’s about 10:45 and they are about 15 minutes away.
“If you get here at 10:59, no problem, they will see you; they will take as long as is needed to treat you,” the receptionist on the phone tells me. “But at 11 o’clock, they lock the doors.”
You know, you can excite your kid if you act excited. You get ramped up, they get ramped up. So if you are dealing with them and their condition, and you act like it’s a crisis, you can freak them out. So I quickly but calmly tell Michele to load the kid into the car and I’m getting my shoes and heading to the after hours pediatric place. I know it’s over by Chick Fil A but can she text me the address so I can put it into my GPS (it’s in a park full of medical offices and I’ll waste time driving around looking for it). She also throws a blanket on the kid and says she’s going to follow in her car momentarily.
It’s cool out, which might feel refreshing but might not help the kid’s breathing. Even though I’m playing it cool my daughter knows something is up. I guess we don’t dash off in the middle of the night at high speeds very often. Clever girl.
I get the text and at a stop light I put it into the GPS.
Arrival time 11:01. No kidding. I tell my wife to call them and tell them that I’m already in the parking lot looking for their location and will they hold the door open for me because the kid is having trouble breathing.
Meanwhile, the kid has picked up on the fact that something is wrong and is now talking to me and asking questions in a calm but measured tone, with a nice gasp for air in between each word: Dad. Gasp. Where. Gasp. Are. Gasp. We. Gasp. Going?
That’ll get you to ignore a few speed limits.
Tune in tomorrow and Tuesday for the rest of the story! “Savvy Stories 2: The TERRIBLE Two’s” is available at Amazon and also at Smashwords at  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355616

Holiday Memories: Grandma’s Christmas Presents

Our grandmas knew some stuff we didn’t, and they did things in a different way.

When I was a kid, my grandma always bought me underwear as a Christmas present – which, considering we would have all our cousins, uncles, aunts, and brothers and sisters over at our house on Christmas morning to open presents, meant I got to have about 50 people in the room as I tried to smile about grandma buying me tightie whities.

The mere thought still gives me quivers.

She was a practical woman who lived through the Great Depression and I guess she figured an active boy needed good underwear. A few years later she switched to giving each of her grandkids $100.

That was much nicer.

My cousins and I would joke that it was always good to see “Ben” – Benjamin Franklin, who graces the $100 bill. Clean, crisp, and tucked safely into a currency card envelope, it was definitely a nicer present.

But there was always a semi-nervous time waiting for the present to come; you never knew what the old lady would actually do on Christmas morning.

One year it was rubber coin purses that she got for free during a Las Vegas trip. I think we still got a hundred bucks or underwear WITH the coin purse, but it just goes to show – it was a different time with her around.

A Night Without Hope (a current Savvy Story from a few nights ago)


 Savvy has spent several nights this week going to bed and NOT clamoring for her stuffed baby dolphin toy “Hope.” It’s another possible milestone at age 3 1/2, and it’s good that she is growing up and doesn’t need them, but it’s disturbing how much she needs something one day and then the next day she just abandons it and never looks back.

 Trust me, I’m grateful as I think about my wife and I not having to look around for that stupid thing in the dark when our daughter wakes up in the middle of the night, or both of us trying desperately to locate it so she will calm down and just go to bed at a reasonable time. But to just suddenly one day not need it, not mention it, and just move on… I am equally impressed and unnerved by that.

 Nothing moves in a straight line with small children, so we will probably be looking for Hope tonight so Savvy will go to bed, but in a month or two we’ll be talking about how it’s been so long since she needed Hope to go to sleep.

 A few months ago, she would make us tear the house apart to find it before she would go to bed.

 Last night, she couldn’t have cared less where Hope was, and it is possible that she won’t ever ask about Hope at bedtime again.

 There’s just something not right about that.

 It’s not the underlying fear that she will disregard her parents one day, the same way that she disregarded the Shamu breakfast bowl or the Monkey Pillow Pet – aptly named “Monkey” by her – that she HAD to seep on every night for over a year. We ended up with three Shamu bowls in case one was dirty, we got 2 large Monkey Pillow Pets and a small one, so she could have one upstairs for bedtime and naps, one downstairs for other naps, and one in the car. They were a fave for well over a year.

 I have a picture of her in the shopping cart at WalMart hugging the Monkey Pillow Pet, the first time they ever met. It was love at first sight. Best 20 bucks we ever spent. (Well, it $20 for the first one…)

We accumulated three Hope’s, too, because she took it everywhere in the house but would leave it everywhere in the house, too – making for a bedtime disaster. When I’m sleepy and ready to crash, that is no time to start a hunt for a stuffed dolphin that is just as likely to be under a couch as it is to be in a toy box or in the pantry. We got a backup so we could get her to go to bed with the substitute, and the 3rd one was in case one wore out (which one was doing).

 Yes, it sounds extreme; I need my sleep!

 She even got to the point where she could tell we’d given her a backup. She named #2 “Blackie” because his plastic eyes weren’t worn out like Hope’s. Constantly being carried around the house will do that to a toy. The wear begins to show, and stuffed animals aren’t really made for too many washings. #3 never go a name. He mostly stayed in her pajama drawer for emergencies, like when we’d lost the first two – which we did.

 Before, Blackie could stand in for Hope; then, when she figured things out, Blackie could occasionally fill in at bedtime while we promised to go find Hope. Savvy might actually wait up, awake in the blue glow of the night light in her room, waiting for the final report – but usually Hope was just someplace where turning on the living room lights would find her, and all was well. On a rare occasion, Savvy would agree that we would find hope in the morning, and she would go ahead and fall asleep hugging Blackie.

 Then, as I say, one day no dolphins were necessary. It happened twice in a week. Maybe more than that. I almost don’t want to count them and jinx myself.

 We had a garage sale last weekend. We went through a pile of Savvy’s stuffed animals and she opted to give many of them away. It didn’t bother me; I knew which ones were her favorites and she kept all of those. The others were, mainly, ones that I had bought for her first Christmas: a variety of jungle animals, of high quality. But even then I knew that a kid can’t have 10 favorites. She liked them, and she learned each of their names – that is, what kind of animal it was – but she never played with the gator or the rhino, or some of the others. It was a swing and a miss. I got too many.

 But we also learned that first Christmas that Savvy might like a toy at the toy store, leading us to believe it would be a good Christmas present, and then a few weeks later at the house on Christmas morning, it was a dud. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but I only needed to learn it once. Crag’s list and garage sales then became my forum of choice for presents for my kid, and it worked well for me. But I didn’t know that on her first Christmas, and I’m not sure it would have mattered. I wanted a big pile of stuffed animals for my little girl, all sorts of jungle animals, and she got them.

 I really liked them; she only liked a few. At the time, I was disappointed, but I became okay with it as I realized that she wasn’t going to fall in love with every single thing I ever bought her, and she certainly wasn’t going to fall in love with every one of those stuffed jungle animals. Kids just don’t do that very often – Barbies excepted.

 She fell in love with a few of the jungle animals, though, and that was good enough for me. I wanted her to have a big pile of stuffed animals on her bed, and she did. I wanted her to enjoy playing with them, and she did. I thought she’d eventually settle on one that was her absolute favorite stuffed animal ever, and she did. First, it was a monkey Pillow Pet that her mom bought here, and then later it was a stuffed toy dolphin named Hope – also that her mom bought her.

 The jungle animals I got just never really did it for her the way the monkey and the dolphin did.

 And when it was garage sale time, I knew they would go, a lot of them. And what didn’t sell would go to Salvation Army as a donation.

 And one day it might be Hope and Blackie in that pile.

 I’ll probably pull Hope aside and stick her in a shoebox or something, and place her in the top of my closet. There are a few other memorable things packed away up there, like a pair of monkey slippers that my kid wore every day, 24/7, for about two years… Her first USF onesie, we framed and hung on her bedroom wall. I’m sure she will wake up one day and ask for that to go somewhere else. It’ll go into the closet, too, next to her first pair of baby booties.

 Some new thing will take Hope’s place, whatever it is; I don’t know yet. It may not be an obvious transition, as it was when Hope gave Monkey the boot.

 I’m not sure it matters.

 Because even though Monkey got replaced, she was completely devoted to Monkey for a long time – two years; literally about 2/3 of her life. That’s pretty good, considering the Christmas presents from year one were enjoyed for less than a week.

 Hope’s realm has lasted quite a whole, too. Way more than a year. The kid is steadfast and faithful to her favorite toy. When she makes a decision, she sticks by it. I like that, even if it wasn’t my toys she liked best.

 I like to think that people’s personalities and lifetime qualities begin when they’re young. Impatience, unfortunately, is one; but so is a good sense of humor. She has both of those things in abundance.

 This thing with the toys makes me think she’ll be a loyal friend, and that’s a good quality. Maybe even a rare quality.

 And it makes me think she will be a good and loving and devoted child to her parents all of her days, which is a good thing to hope for in a child.

 After all, she didn’t let Monkey go to the garage sale. He’s still up there in her room quietly carrying out his duties. I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon.