Saturday, 20 June 2009

Poorly Boy...

Jack is ill. For the first time in his life he's a poorly boy. He's come down with what Helen thinks is Croup. It's a viral infection that pretty much causes a really awful dry cough. It's nothing very serious but because it's viral so it's accompanied by fever, and it's contagious. This cough though is a hideous thing. I've always thought the dry cough to be the worst kind, it's like not being able to swallow but in reverse. Your throat hurts so you're compelled to cough but you can't get any grip in the cough, instead all you do is hack and make your throat hurt more.

Jack has been sick before, but not like this, he's a very miserable little soul. It's never been much more than a cold and never last more than a day or so. There was a brief chicken pox scare, and we've had a couple of fevers but nothing really worth noting. We're lucky in that respect I guess. All the other children we know have taken their turns being ill, some more than others, but Jack has always been the one that doesn't get sick.

Jack was up from 3:00 am this morning, coughing and complaining. We gave him cough medicine but it didn't really help much . He spent some of the night sitting or sleeping in bed with us and I even spent some the night sleeping in his bed with him. He needs his rest so anything we can do to get him back to sleep is done. He perked up a little around 7:00, long enough to eat breakfast and pick a movie. As the movie played he watched and laughed and repeatedly told us that he couldn't talk and had lost his voice. As the morning went on his mood and energy level gradually dropped. Soon he was sitting on our laps groaning for milk and just being generally miserable.

It's no fun being the parent of a sick child. Illness in general is unpleasant for all involved but as we grow we develop an understanding and acceptance of it. Jack is 2, there is nothing I can do or say that's going to make him understand what's happening to him. His intellect is at a torturous point, he's old enough to understand that he's sick, and that 'medcint' is supposed to, and sometimes does, make him feel better. But he doesn't know why he's sick, or why Mommy and Daddy won't just do whatever it is we usually do to make it go away like with most other things. It's heart-breaking. We're helpless except to try to keep him comfortable as possible.

So today Jack wins all the fights, if he wants snacks, drinks or ice cream he gets it. Anything to make this pass as smoothly and quickly as possible. We've spent the entire day so far sitting on the sofa watching Pixar movies. Let's hope he doesn't get too used to it.

He's starting to brighten up again, he's watching Toy Story 2.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Here There be Monsters

Lately Jack has taken to looking for monsters everywhere we go. Usually it’s just a casual mention and quick search, sometimes the search is more thorough and the conversation is more urgent. It’s a little strange because he doesn’t appear to be very scared of the monsters, just concerned that they’re about. Most the time he seems to like monsters, he’s a big fan of any movie with monsters in it, has quite a few monster toys, and has more than once been heard speaking to monsters when he’s alone.

There are things that’s Jack’s afraid of, a great many things. Loud noises, mean children, big slides, Ghosts.
Ghosts are regarded similarly to monsters, however Jack always seems to dislike ghosts. He’ll occasionally mention seeing or having seen a ghost, again, usually in his room at bedtime. While he doesn’t ever pay them much mind it’s clear that there’s an element of fear when it comes to ghosts. He doesn’t even like the idea of my calling myself a big purple ghost when I’m wearing my Alton Towers Mac.

Thunderstorms are the newest. If it starts to rain Jack suddenly becomes very concerned that there’s going to be thunder.

It’s hard to gauge the emotions of a 2 year old, especially fear. Most often they don’t understand what they’re feeling nor are they articulate enough to describe it to you. A psychologist will tell you that the child will only emote as you do, so if you’re happy and excited then they are too, it’s the same with stress and fear. Knowing this, I’ve always tried to play off being scared of monsters, usually by making little stories about them any things like that. I try not to do what a lot of parents to which is play like they scare me to. Sometimes he’s plays along with me and sometimes not. There don’t seem to be any consistency regarding his feelings toward monsters, just lately they’re always on his mind.

Last night I put Jack to bed. It was a typical Tuesday night, which meant that Helen was out before Jack’s bed time. We started the bedtime routine as normal, five minute warning, then upstairs for a quick wash, a story, and then bed. The whole routine can take any where between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on temperament and toilet needs. It always takes longer when I’m on my own but only by a few minutes.

During the wash Jack started with the monster talk.
“There are monsters downstairs.” and so on. I normally try to steer the subject away from monsters around bedtime for obvious reasons. So I assured him that there were only fish downstairs, and they were in a glass cage, so presented no real threat. “But there are monsters.” he persisted. “They’re really scary.” Scary is one of the words that Jack says with an American accent.
“There’s nothing to be scared of,” I said calmly. “besides, monsters are more scared of you than you are of them.” Thank you Pixar.

I read him his story, the one about big machines, tractors, loggers and such, it distracted him for a while but as soon as we finished he started talking about the monsters again.
“The monsters is under my bed.” They often get closer to him as the day wears on. Usually they start outside somewhere, one time they started in my car.
“There are no monsters in here Jack, don’t you worry.” He didn’t believe me, he never does. So I switched his clock to night time, gave him a cuddle and said good night, leaving his light dimmed to ward away these monsters.

About twenty minutes later I heard noises upstairs that told me he was out of his room. So I crept up the stairs and found him huddled on the landing with Dylan, a plush dog that’s as big as he is.
“Jack,” I whispered, “It’s bed time.”
“But I don’t want to.” he whispered back.
“Go back to bed please.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“Why not?”
“Because the monsters. The monsters in my room.”
I offered him a cuddle in exchange for letting me take him back to bed. He agreed but insisted that he hide from the monsters when we got there. So when I put him back in bed and pulled his quilt over his head so he could hide from the monsters. I said goodnight to a tiny face mostly hidden in a dim room and shut the door.

As I went back downstairs I found myself wondering what was on Jack’s mind. What was he thinking all alone in is room under his quilt? Was it just a plea for attention that he was no longer interested in pursuing, or was he genuinely afraid? Had I reminded him that it was bedtime and he needed to go to sleep or had I heartlessly forced him back into a room full of danger? As it happens I didn’t hear anything more from Jack last night. When I checked on him later he had moved but was still completely hidden under his quilt. The rationalist in me assumes that he went to sleep but part of me wonders if he was too scared to come out from under his quilt.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

2 Tales of 1 Jack

At Alton Towers they have a new attraction called Wobble World. It's basically a really big bouncy castle.
Adults are discouraged from entering so I stuck to the sidelines and watched.

The staff were playing a game of catch with one of of the little girls. Jack is a sucker for a ball game so once he noticed them he had to get involved. So with a little coy look he approached and asked if he can play, "Me now!"
The staff obliged and tossed him the little yellow ball. Jack laughed and swung the ball around. After a little gentle coaxing from the staff he tossed the ball back. This carried on for a few throws until the ball found it's way to another staff member who took it upon herself to change the game.

Staff 1: Give us our ball back.
Staff 2: No it's mine now.
Jack and Girl: Give us our ball.
Staff 2: How about this ball. (she held up a green ball.
Staff 1 Jack and Girl: Not that ball. Ours was yellow.
Staff 2: You can have this one.
Staff 1 Jack and Girl: We want the yellow one.
Staff 2: OK, here you go. (she throws the green ball to Jack)
Jack is thrilled and bounces around the castle, while Staff 1 and Girl continue the debate. Finally Staff 2 gives in a throws them the yellow ball.
The game resumes and Jack re appears asking to be included.
After one toss Jack's way it occurs to Staff 2 that Jack only has one ball in hand and it's not the green ball.

Staff 2: Where's the green ball?
Jack: I don't have it.
Staff 2: Where did it go.
Jack: I don't know.
Staff 2: Shall we look for it?
Together they go for a little tour around the bouncy castle looking for the green ball with no success. She asks and asks and does everything she can think of to get Jack to tell her where the green ball is but he doesn't budge, either he can't remember or he's just not telling. A few seconds later another little boy appears with the green ball in hand. There's a little cheer and the game resumes this time including the new player. After a few tosses the green ball is picked up by Jack and once again Staff 2 comes to a realization.
Staff 2: Where's the yellow ball?
Jack: I don't know.

Not 5 minutes later another little situation develops. With the addition of more children to the game, some as old as 5 or 6, Catch clearly wasn't going to work anymore. So Staff 1 changes the game to a game of fetch.

Staff 1: I'm going to throw the ball and whoever gets it first throws it again and so on and so on.
The ball is thrown. Kids scrambled in every direction, giggling and pushing and all that goes with it, except Jack who, much to my amusement, was still sat patiently waiting. Not so much as a flinch.

Staff 1: Go get it, get the ball.
Jack: No you throw it.
Staff 1: Go find it, hurry.
Jack: No you throw it first.

Jack was exactly right, Staff 1 had only pretended to throw the ball.
I blame myself for this one, Jack and I have played variations of fetch his whole life, and I never throw it on the first go. I can't tell if he's just stopped falling for it or what, but it made me smile.