In the morning, as is so often the case, everything looked better.
She had no further GI issues during the night and come daylight was in the front yard, making a FORT with pillows and blankets from her bed. Her costume, tights, and shoes, thanks to her Mita, no longer smelled of vomit. MIL was also feeling better.
I waited a few hours before asking if she wanted to go back to the theater.
YES I DO was the short response.
I was nervous. And tried to pretend that I wasn't.
(this pic actually taken at Thursday night's dress rehearsal)
I can't sleep. I went to bed three hours ago and am now getting up in resignation.
Tonight was the opening night of ballet recital weekend. MIL, FIL, Mita, and Papi are in town for Munch's first onstage performance.
Munch had been a total grump today, which I blamed on various grandmother-inducing deviations to her regular schedule, including late bedtimes and nap-free afternoons. Popsicles have been disappearing from the freezer at an alarming rate.
We arrived an hour before showtime, as instructed.
I dropped her off with Milena (one of two "backstage moms" and in change of the six Flower Dancers before and after their small part in the ninety minute show) in the green room, and went around front to meet up with Mita, Papi, and FIL. Unfortunately, MIL caught the gastroenteritis that's been circling Wow's daycare and opted to stay home for the evening.
We settled into the our seats, the curtain went up, and, six minutes into the show, we all abruptly left.
Munch's group was the second to dance. The entire performance was less than three minutes, a time period I spent in convulsive giggles watching the six pink tutu-clad Flowers struggle to recall the steps of their practiced routine.
The five other Flowers pranced off stage and Munch, who had been looking at the audience when she was supposed to be forming a circle and looking at her co-dancers when she was supposed to be looking at the audience, stayed back, evidently having forgotten to participate in the grand exit. I had been laughing so hard my eyes filled with tears and so didn't see what happened next.
She threw up LD whisper loudly at me in the dark theater. When my vision cleared my 4 year old was onstage, alone, covered in vomit, and crying.
In the very many OH (EXPLETIVE) moments of parenthood, this one will not likely prove that significant over time. The entire episode lasted less than eight seconds, and to the other members in the audience could be justly remembered as a funny incident when a nervous kid threw up on herself at the end of her first performance. But, seeing her miserable, alone, and looking out onto a dark audience of a couple hundred people, I felt sick too.
I stumbled through a series of excuse-me-pardon-me-excuse-me-that's-my-daughter-excuse-me trying to get out of the row, not knowing whether I was going to run down the stairs of the auditorium and pluck her directly off-stage, a reaction that I think would have been very disruptive but comforting to both her and me, or head up the stairs towards the theater exit to eventually meet her backstage.
The decision was made for me because, by the time I made it to the aisle, she'd heard Milena calling her from the side curtain and had made her way offstage on her own. When I met them backstage Milena was covered with so much vomit that, if I hadn't know better, I would have assumed it was she who had gotten sick. The three of us crowded into the single backstage bathroom and tried to manage the foul smelling vomit.
By the time we got into the car, she'd stop crying and actually seemed normal. It was me, not the one who had stood alone onstage in her own vomit, who continued to pulse with anxiety.
Munch couldn't tell me why she thought she threw up, only that she was sad that she had. When we got home (and after a bath) she opted to go to bed without dinner, which makes me worry she's in the early stages of MIL's (and Wow's previous) gastroenteritis. But it just as easily could been stage fright, despite the fact she gave no real indication (The Grumps being well within her behavioral bell curve) of any pre-performance gitters.
Tomorrow we have a show at 1pm and 6pm. If she wakes up sick, the decision is easy. If she doesn't, I'm not sure what to do.
In the last 400 meters of his first marathon (Seattle 2003), LD was passed by a woman with only one arm. Even though there isn't a great physiologic reason why a woman with one arm would run any slower than your typical two-armed woman, LD, at the zenith of demoralizing self pity and disappointment with race that had gone poorly, internalized this very small defeat. Whenever the relative merits of marathon running are discussed in conversation, LD uses this story to substantiate a resolute "Marathons Suck" stance on the issue.
On Saturday I got beat in the 10k by an eleven year old. Really, she was eleven. After 43 miserable minutes (yes, 43 min. Which is slower than the 10K I ran before joined my running club and considerably short of my 40 minute goal) spent staring at the pink jersey of a girl I had seen at the starting line and thought (1) you look exactly like Rue from Hunger Games*, except SMALLER and (2) you don't belong in the front pack, I had to ask the tiny champion how old she was.
I laughed. And shook her hand.
And I wasn't the only one who underestimated her. During the race (and I know this because, again, I was staring at her damn back the entire way), very few spectators cheered for her and the race photographers didn't take her picture. I think everyone assumed she was a straggler from the 5k that had started 15 minutes before the 10k. At one point I actually yelled at one of them "SHE'S WINNING!" if for no other reason than to spurn myself into the action I never mustered the energy to take.
I was in the middle of one my frequent harangues- this one entitled Women and the Child Birth Experience- when LD interrupted to ask "is a doula.. like.. part of a woman's body?"
There are many reasons I love my husband. This ability to inject levity into most any situation is one of them. I discovered another when he arrived home after being sent out on a relatively simple mission - sign Munch up for youth soccer (which requires one of the two parents named on the birth certificate show up within a narrow-yet-unspecified-window-of-time at an unmarked location in the north part of town, proffering identification, a weighty check, and the foreskin of a unblemished goat).
He announced that -
(1) he had forgotten Munch's birth certificate and would have to return the next day
(2) he had signed me up as Team Mom
(3) he had signed himself up as Head Coach.
(4) he had engaged in activity (3) because I had spoken favorably of Papi's tenure as coach of my Kick N Chase team growing up. He wanted to do the same for Munch.
Also, he added, this way he could name the team himself. After considerable thought on the (4 min) drive home, he'd decided on The Whooping Cranes.
When I stared at him in silent disbelief, he assumed I was confused. "You know... as in, they're gonna WHOOP?"
I did not name my son after a character from The Sandman. In the middle of my first re-read of the series I am feeling the need to make this point clear.
I am also getting ahead of myself.
I wish I had been one of those kids who read science fiction. Those kids were cool and geeky and otherworldly in a way I wasn't. While LD was being introduced to the weird and mystic via a medium with the ability to reorder rigid truths, I was so wishing God would make a Wakefield twin. Oh please oh please make me blond and popular with a convertible and a cool older brother and a split-level ranch house in Sweet Valley.
So when, in my twenties, my friend Amarprit recommended the The Sandman series, I wasn't enthusiastic. I'd never read a comic book series - or graphic novel to the aficionado - and initially found the format distracting and difficult to follow. It didn't take too long to acclimate to the flow of the pages and shortly thereafter I found myself consuming one book after another. I don't exactly remember what I was suppose to be doing during this period of my second year of medical school, but I am sure it wasn't reading a comic book series.
I finished the series with a new respect for a format capable of some absolutely phenomenal storytelling and, yes, had come across a name I liked should I ever have a son.
I couldn't remember much of the storyline, except that I liked it. So when I saw Amarprit over Thanksgiving I asked to borrow the books again. Unfortunately he had given them away years ago. I bought the box set as a Christmas present to myself thinking that Wow and I could read them together.
The collection sat on my bookshelf for months before Munch found the large black box that contained twelve thin volumes.
MAMA WHAT'S THIS?
THIS was a cartoon of a man's eyes being pushed out of their sockets as his head exploded. I was forced to remember an incident when I chastised LD for not appropriately censoring parts of The Hobbit. I was in the kitchen putting away dishes while LD read to Munch in the living room. Upon hearing how the orcs planned to kill and eat the hobbits, Munch slid off the couch, found me in the kitchen, and asked if she COULD GO TO BED NOW? This transgression, albeit accidental, seemed worse.
Um, well honey...
It isn't that The Sandman is a little violent. It's that, in its examination of human greed, lust, power-mongering, and psychopathy, it's hugely violent. The depictions of murder and torture are, by their nature, cartoonish and not unlike Quentin Tarantino on a phencyclidine binge, and yet nine years and two babies later, make me squirm more than I had remembered or care to admit.
The Sandman is a compelling, well-crafted story that I enjoyed the first time around and am enjoying again on second review. It is, however, difficult to unlink the association between the story and my son, despite the fact it has as little to do with Wow as I bear in resemblance to a Wakefield twin.
I was displaying a selective amnesia when, in reference to the weekend's upcoming trip, I glibly told my running group on Thursday morning, "oh, Wow is like a parrot, we just put a blanket over his head and he goes to sleep." Munch, I bragged, was also a great little traveler, and for those times when she wasn't, there was the iPad.
We were on the road at 4:35 Saturday morning. I hoped the kids would fall back asleep, but both seemed fussy and a little agitated by the early morning wake up call. I gave Wow a bottle, thinking the milk would calm him down and make him sleepy.
Half an hour later later he projectile vomited all over himself and his clothes, the blanket, pillow, and the car seat. In his rear-facing car seat he managed to even hit the backseat in front of him. He started wailing. It took a few minutes to get off the freeway, a time during which Munch joined the lamentations because the car was GETTING SO STINKY.
I stripped off his clothes while LD wiped as much of the chunky bits off the fabric car seat. He stuffed Wow's clothes, blanket, and pillowcase cover into a plastic bag. Wow still smelled of vomit, so I tried washing him in the soap-free gas station bathroom. This exercise only increased his irritation and did nothing to expunge the smell.
When we all got back in the car, the smell persisted. Wow cried and fussed, obviously still miffed, but whether that was due to an upset and/or empty belly, the fact he still smelled like vomit, or because he was now wearing his sister's pink pjs, I wasn't sure. His sister was equally cranky and even less interested in sleep. The sour backseat attitudes did not improve as we drove north.
So, when we finally pulled into the parking lot of King's Estate vineyard six hours later, I was really ready to start drinking.
But I didn't. Even though I am off topamax, I am still avoiding alcohol, and wine in particular. (The migraines, I write with some hesitancy because I can never be sure, have improved lately. I don't know if this is due to a reduction in alcohol, chance, or resulting from one of the other many changes I've made.)
We met my parents, Tia, and Tia's friends for lunch. Tia and I split a four wine tasting of the vineyard's whites, which thanksfully caused me no problem later. We took a tour of the property, in part to digest the large meal prior to getting back in the car.
After the tour, Wow and LD headed for coast to meet up with BIL's family. Mom, Dad, Tia, Munch, and I set off for Eugene.
The purpose of this trip was to watch my sister run the marathon, which was to start 7am on Sunday.
At 6:45 the next morning, we were waiting for Tia at mile marker 2. When she came through two minutes slower than I'd expected, I started to worry. Two minutes might not seem like that much in the context of a marathon, but it certainly would be if she continued to run a minute per mile slower than she'd predicted. Her goal was 2:55, 6:40 miles, strong and steady without a lot of variation.
This race was to be the end product of the most intense period of training she'd ever completed. What could possibly be going on that, two miles in, she was already behind? Because the half marathon started at the same time, it was difficult to see how she was placing, but it certainly seemed like there were more women in front her than should be.
Interestingly, and very much not-in-character, she didn't seem worried.
I caught her again at mile 11. Smiling.
Mile 14. Still smiling.
And at this point there were fewer and fewer women in front of her.
We missed her at mile 18 and headed for the track to catch the finish. When we got the stadium I was relieved to see the official time was over 2 minutes behind my own watch, meaning the race had started late, not that Tia hadn't been hitting her time. We waited for her to enter the track.
Tia would later tell us that around mile 24 she could see another female 50 meters or so in front of her. She didn't have the emotional or physical reserve to challenge this female and resigned herself to her current position, which was 6th place. One of her teammates who was spectating the race (and herself a two-time Olympic trials qualifier) saw Tia behind the fifth place runner and, sensing Tia was not trying to catch the woman, jumped in the race.
She came up on Tia's shoulder and whispered "Oh no you don't." She ran with Tia and pushed her past the woman in front. "Don't disappoint me" was all she said before pealing off to rejoin the spectators.
And she didn't. When Tia powered onto the track looking like she could run through a wall, my dad started crying.
I feel very managed by Wow. He babbles and grunts and points and bellows with greater articulation than I can recall in his sister. I know what he wants because he shows me - he'll pull at the refrigerator door or hand me the sippy cup he's just retrieved from our "child-proof" kitchen cabinetry. He started dropping books on our feet to communicate a new interest in reading. He climbs into his high chair and tries to climb over the side of the bathtub. When LD wrestled a hat onto his head, he laid down on his back, arms and legs splayed like a snow angle, and bleated like a farm animal because this was The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened. I don't recall Munch expending the same level of energy, and really what was the point when one of two equally doting grandmothers would soon figureitout.
I do not mean to imply he has much in the way of actual vocabulary works, which remain limited to Uh-Oh, Da-Da, and Ma-Ma, a term applied with equal regularity to you, Most Venerated Human And Maker Of My Being, or you, Door Knob.
I'd like to think it is my improved proficiency in the language of indistinct-baby-squawking that is responsible for our superior communication, but I suspect it's just as, or more, likely that Wow's need to complete with his older sister's incessant chatter that has accelerated the development of this particular skill set.
She does not stop talking. Ever. Not while she's eating, not while she's bathing, not while I'm brushing her teeth, not while she's on the toilet, and certainly not while she's suppose to be sleeping. I think she closes her mouth only to swallow, after which her voice box is, once again, engaged. And little Wow, in his fifteen months post-uterus, has learned that direct, forceful appeal is the only way to engage the attention of one of the two dullards charged with his care.
I hope this does not sound as if the poor guy gets ignored. He doesn't. He is far more happy when left to his own devices than was his sister at the comparable age or so today. And Wow's silence, or more specifically his absence, can be as telling as any wild gesticulation or vocalization. Most recently its meant he's out front, grabbing at the bees that buzz around the lipstick bush. Efforts to dissuade him have only enhanced his interest in the bees. He hasn't caught one yet, and at least I can be reasonably assured he will do it only once.
(1) I'm not sure why blogspot or feedburner will randomly email out a posting from a few months ago. It has only happened happened three times so far, but to those of you that receive this blog via email, I apologize for the extra clutter.
(2) please stop with the spam comments. I'm not going to publish them.