Friday, November 18, 2005


I rush out of the house trying not to be late since they had to do the proverbial "squeeze us in" move. I have barely managed to get dressed; showers are for sissies; and let’s not talk about my hair.

The doctor’s assistant, who also happens to be his wife and at least ten years his junior, is tall and lithe, wears clothes that flow but never hang. She greets us smiling. Her hair is graceful on her shoulders and her figure - that of a woman’s half her age. She always fusses over Isaac, plays peek-a-boo, makes him grin, which is why I forgive her for being beautiful.

You think you know what kind of parent you’ll be. The kind that shrugs and says in a dispassionate voice, "All kids get sick." The kind that wants the fever to "do its job" and not be stymied by things like medicine. Then your baby – the one you tend to every day, the same one that left your body in a rush of blood and cord just months ago, that does that funny thing with his tongue when you feed him the first bite of anything, that is learning to wave bye-bye – leans against you solemn and lethargic, whimpers in the carseat he despises without the energy to fight off the five-point harness, wakes screaming in the night burning hot with fever, and see, see what you’ll do, how early you’ll have the doctor paged, which medicine you’ll reach for.

Even these times arrive with their own brand of comedy. Mike reads the thermometer to me. "100.8"

"108!??!" I shriek. "Call the doctor! Call the doctor!"

In the struggle to decide whether to make the doctor’s appointment, I have waited long enough that things are apparently on the upswing. Isaac bangs on the doctor’s desk with the flat of his palms and babbles a steady stream, seemingly reading him the riot act for poking around in his ears earlier. I leave with a baby that is still red-rimmed around the eyes, but the assistant’s black and red flowered skirt flares jauntily as she wishes us a good day and turns away down the hallway, and I’m pretty sure things will be all right.

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