This will be the first in a multi-part series about the events of this weekend. Tune in tomorrow for part two.
Our baby clothes have made the rounds. Some began with us in Philadelphia with Zachary, cycled through Benjamin in London, took a trip to Boston for a friend’s baby, and then ended up with Lilah here in Los Angeles. When my friend, T, brought us back the clothes we had given her, she also gave us a selection handed down from a couple of babies in Plymouth Meeting and some snazzy little outfits her own kids had gotten as gifts. We make the exchanges on visits to each other, since the financial and ecological benefits of handing down clothes are rather diminished by shipping. Now L.A. friends are supplementing with sleepers and onesies that their children have outgrown.
The 3-6 month clothes are, of course, the most plentiful. For some reason, people give a lot of 3-6 month clothes to new babies, which is why parents of six-month-olds suddenly realize with a shock that they may have to actually purchase clothing for their children. But have we ever inherited some lovely 3-6 month things! There is a classy light blue outfit from Janie and Jack, a rather girly pant-set with a giant flower on the tush, a sweatshirt from our alma mater, day-of-the-week onesies missing Monday and Saturday (presumably sacrificed to a blow-out diaper or dripping Tri-Vi-Sol), and a tiny red t-shirt with the word “activist” across the front.
Friday morning, I dressed her in flowered corduroy overalls and a white turtleneck. It wasn’t cold enough to warrant such an outfit, but the mornings have been chilly, and Baby Girl has been sick. I mean sick. The kind of sick that keeps Mommy in the glider all night, holding a snorting and wheezing newborn fully upright while looking for a comfortable position for her own neck as she tries to sleep. The kind of sick that has her parents counting wet diapers in fear of dehydration. The kind of sick that produces a lot of laundry.
The flowered overalls lasted all of seven minutes before Lilah threw up her morning feeding. She needed a new outfit, the boys needed quarters for the tzedaka box at school, Zachary didn’t want to come down off the top bunk, and we had three minutes to get into the car. And Lilah had not had a wet diaper in four-and-a-half hours. It was very clear that this baby needed to see a doctor. Conveniently, our pediatrician is located a minute and thirty-seven seconds from the boys’ preschool and opens ten minutes after I drop the boys at school. If we ever got to school.
I don’t mean to give the impression that I was alone in all of this. For the past six weeks or so, we have had a mother’s helper in the morning. He comes at 7 and helps get the boys fed, packs their lunches, and breaks up fistfights while Lilah and I get ourselves ready. We really had no place in the budget for this mother’s helper, but I knew I would need assistance in the beginning getting all three kids into the car by 8:30 AM. Enter Brad, a 26 year old who is in L.A. to write and took on our household as a temporary source of income. Brad, who my children adore and emulate. Brad, who just that morning had told me he found a full-time job and this would be his last day.
Brad changed Lilah into the onesie and sleeper I grabbed from the dresser while I called a friend who is the mother of Zach’s friend. “Nat, Lilah is really sick and I need to get her to the doctor this morning. Would you be able to bring Zach home to your house if I can’t be at school to pick him up by noon?” One son accounted for, I tried to reach a couple parents of Benjamin’s classmates who live near us, but no one was picking up, and I was trying to hand out quarters while putting on shoes and changing my vomit-covered shirt. I’d have to catch them at school.
If we ever got to school. Who knows if it was anxiety over Brad leaving or Lilah’s illness or simply being a pain in the ass, but Zachary was being a four-year-old that morning. As we shoved children and stuff into the minivan, Zach refused to be buckled. Brad had committed the unpardonable offense of putting Zachary’s lunch in the car without proper authorization. “I wanted to carry my lunch out,” Zach whined, warming up his voice for the tantrum to come.
Now, I understand, truly I do, that schlepping his lunch box out to the car is both an honor and a privilege. Today, at least. On days when my hands are filled with thirty-nine other things, the child refuses to carry his lunch, but on Friday, when we had a whole other adult to help, four adult hands in total, Zachary decided that his lunch was safe only in his own hands. And, while I appreciate that Zach could only come to this decision after Brad had already placed said lunch into the car, I am forced to admit that negotiating a remedy to this situation was not my top priority.
“Not today, Zachary. Do you hear me? Not today. Your sister is very, very sick. I need to get her to the doctor. So, you cannot make a fuss over this today.”
He settled down, albeit grudgingly, and allowed me to buckle him. We waved goodbye to Brad and, after I had stopped to wipe off my side view mirror, we headed out. It turned out to be one of those mornings when traffic was flowing with some regularity between the Pico and Sunset exits of the 405, and Sunset Boulevard had no cars jamming up the left lane trying to turn across the opposing traffic, and we made good time to the school.