Sunday, October 27, 2019

This past week...

TL/DR: Oy.

So, let's see, how to recap this... Right, well, for starters Beautiful Wife came down with something horrible... I don't know, last weekend? A day or three earlier? Fever, chills, all-over body aches, coughing... dark gods, the coughing... Anyway: horrible. Probably not flu, since A) she got her flu shot sometime back, and B) it seems to be the same thing that Firstborn had two weeks earlier, which came back as "something viral, but negative for flu".

This, of course, came just before she was due to leave town for a conference -- and not just a conference, but one she was actually presenting at. And by Monday morning, the fever had stopped and the worst of the symptoms were getting better.

So... on Wednesday morning, Beautiful Wife's parents took her to the airport for an early morning flight, while I settled in for a few days of being a single parent. Despite a little bit of chaos (on my end, "Oh my GOD wait I haven't packed the lunches!" and on my wife's end, well... apparently a steady diet of sugar-free cough drops causes ongoing explosive diarrhea. Who knew?) we got everybody where they were supposed to go.

However -- say it with me, children -- "better" is not "well".

So we navigate the day as best we can, with the boys in school, me tired but reasonably productive, and Beautiful Wife miserable and half-dead and drinking a lot of water and orange juice. And at the end of the day I leave work, and I'm off to pick up Secondborn (Firstborn goes home on his own when school lets out, but we're not quite there yet with Secondborn.) And I'm within minutes of the school when my cell phone rings.

It's Firstborn.
He's calling from the house.
He's tried to do his practice on the upright bass.
The head of the instrument has come off.
Apparently there was a crack (that he had noticed and we hadn't) that finally gave up. So he unzipped the case and the head of the instrument fell out, followed by the strings, followed by the ramp-thing that hooks to the base of the instrument and lies under the lower third of the strings. And now it's all tumbled out and is sort of lying in a pile on the kitchen floor beside the body of his practice instrument. So, y'know, he thought he'd call and let me know that this was a thing.

So I did what any self-respecting parent would do under those circumstances: I picked up Secondborn from school, went through a drive-through for some food, and went home to try and figure out where the hell we were renting the instrument from.

I finally found the rental information and called Brook Mays Music, who were absolutely lovely about the whole thing. We'd been paying to have the instrument insured essentially since we first started renting it, so at the end of the day on Thursday I left work, raced home, parked my sedan, packed Firstborn and the broken bass into the van, picked up Secondborn from school, headed over to the music store, and swapped the 1/8 bass out for a 1/4 bass, which seems like a pretty good size given that Firstborn has grown a bit over the last few years. Then we grabbed more food and headed back home. We arrive to discover that the bridge of the instrument is still lying on the floor in Firstborn's room, where he had attempted to scoop everything into the instrument case, so we drop that on my passenger seat to return later.

Beautiful Wife, meanwhile, has apparently kept her roommates up all night with her coughing, and they're also very concerned that they're going to catch Captain Trips from her. (I don't believe there's any way she could still be contagious at this point, but I understand their concern.) So she's gotten a separate room and is basically just staying indoors and sleeping any time she feels so inclined. Conference? Yeah, no. I advise not doing anything except the presentations that she's giving, and sleeping as much as possible, and also soup.

On Friday I don't hear much from Beautiful Wife, until finally in the evening I call her and confirm that she is, at least, still alive. She had apparently turned off the ringer on her phone and was sleeping as much as possible, which seems like good sense to me. I, meanwhile, have called Brook Mays again and discovered that while they don't much care about the bridge of the 1/8 bass they do want me to return the bow that they issued with it. That sounds fine; I add the bow to the passenger seat of my car, and make a note to myself to do something about this on Saturday, because it's been rainy and cold for the last two days and the traffic has been terrible and I'm not making any more extra trips after picking Secondborn up from school if I can help it. Work is blessedly quiet, allowing me to work on something that I've had to put off for a couple of weeks now, and if I weren't so bloody exhausted it actually would have been a good day. I give up on drive-through food and have a pizza delivered instead, because I may suck as a parent but at least I'm putting food in my children. Then I get everybody into bed and collapse.

However, somewhere in here -- Friday morning, I think -- I get an email from Firstborn's science teacher. Despite some efforts from Beautiful Wife several weeks back to help him put together a reasonable, workable Science Fair project that will neither bankrupt us nor end with us committed to an asylum, Firstborn has apparently not entered any of his information into the approval site and is now weeks behind. So when I get home Friday night, I inform him that he's not allowed to do anything -- video games, YouTube videos, reading books, smiling -- until he's caught up on this thing.

He takes this in fairly good spirits, finds the site, and starts in on it.

On Saturday morning I claw my way out from under the blankets like a zombie who's just smelled teenagers having sex in his cemetery, and shake the boys awake because by the gods we are going to stay on schedule. Also because I need to run a truly nightmarish amount of laundry and dishes if the house is going to be even vaguely presentable, and if I have to get up for that then everybody else does too.

So I make food, hand out morning meds, and set to work: laundry, then dishes, then garbage and recycling, then more laundry, then... Secondborn has put himself in the bathtub, and I step in there to say something to him and realize that what I'd previously taken for some sort of bruise or scrape on his cheek is actually some kind of rash, and it's on his nose and running down the line of his hip towards his crotch as well.

Fortunately, we have the best pediatrician in the world (I May Be Biased) and at 9:30 in the morning I'm able to schedule an appointment for 10:10. This gives me just enough time to shower, a blessing which takes me from Affront To Human Decency back to Modestly Presentable Father-type Human.

Meanwhile, Firstborn has continued his work on the Science Fair documentation, and Beautiful Wife has texted me to let me know that she showed up, gave her presentation, and ghosted back to her room; she's getting ready to head to the airport. Oh, and also: her parents would like to have dinner with us, and can I arrange that?

I DM my DM[1] that I'm not only going to be late to the Saturday Night Game, I'm very likely not going to make it at all. Then I grab Secondborn, inform Firstborn that he's on his own until I get back, and head out the door.

So, the pediatrician's office is quite busy this time of year, but honestly I was expecting that and we're prepared with devices and books. We do a quick swab and then wait some more, and for once in our entire history of pediatric visits it isn't Strep. It looks like just a skin-surface allergic reaction, probably something Secondborn got into outdoors, possibly poison ivy. (Secondborn, for some reason, is very invested in explaining all the reasons why it might something besides poison ivy, but I absolutely do not have the energy to unpack that or even pay attention to it.) So: a quick run by the pharmacy, more medications, a stop by the house to grab Firstborn, then a nice lunch and a quick grocery run, and finally we're back at the house. Naturally I have forgotten to buy Capri-Suns for Firstborn's lunches, so I'll probably be sending him off with airline-sized liquor bottles instead, but that's what you do when you're a parent and anyway I digress. I run more laundry and more dishes, and then grab a forty-minute break before loading everybody into the van and heading off to collect my in-laws and go retrieve Beautiful Wife from the airport.

Finally -- FINALLY -- we get Beautiful Wife back. She is weary and still coughing, but upright and looking at least a little better than she did when she left. We bundle her into the van and drive off to one of our favorite pub-food stops... which is blocked off because apparently there's a festival that none of us knew about. We head for Mexican food instead. It is delicious but not quick, and everybody eats way too many chips.

Then, at last, we drop my in-laws off at their house and return to our own home, where we put Beautiful Wife into the bath and I start working on getting the boys down to bed. This is quite possibly the only thing that really goes right in the entire past week: Beautiful Wife is at last clean and relaxed (and goes to bed shortly afterwards at like 9:00); the boys get ready for bed with no fuss and no complaints and not even much noise; and I am finally able to sit down, though by now -- as expected -- it's far too late to try to catch up on the DnD game. Firstborn has received feedback on the corrections he needs to make for his Science Fair documentation, but I tell him to leave those for first thing in the morning.

So now it's Sunday. Firstborn has submitted his corrections, I'm running blasphemous amounts of laundry, and Beautiful Wife has slept from about nine o'clock last night until roughly eleven-thirty this morning. I've provided breakfast and lunch and medications (on schedule, yet) and have been generally Taking Care Of Things. The thought of going to work tomorrow morning fills me with a sort of soul-devouring existential dread, but that's middle-class life in 2019 America so at least I won't be the only one.

And by all the dark and forgotten gods, I'm going to take a nap.

How has your week been?

[1] ...send a Direct Message to my Dungeon Master...


  1. Well, I could've told you about the effect of sugar-free cough drops on the gut. Maltitol does that to people.

    So, did you ever manage to return the bow for the bass?

    My week's been "Why the *bleeping bleep* won't this website accept my social security number?" Try to get to the state's Human Services office in person because nothing else seems to work and yes, I did try to solve the problem over the phone. I think I've got my public assistance issues straightened out, but we'll see.

    1. I hope you got everything sorted. That sounds difficult and unpleasant and like it's yet another item on the list of Things That Should Not Be That Hard.

      We did return the bow (and the bridge, for that matter) on Saturday.

  2. I didn't know sugar-free cough drops had that side effect. Good to know.

    Wow, your family went through a lot this week. I hope next week is positively mundane for all of you. :)

    Is your wife feeling better? Lingering coughs are the worst.

    1. She's... getting there? I think getting back home has been good for her all by itself.


Feel free to leave comments; it lets me know that people are actually reading my blog. Interesting tangents and topic drift just add flavor. Linking to your own stuff is fine, as long as it's at least loosely relevant. Be civil, and have fun!