New Skills

Ten minutes after Daniel’s father’s departure to attend a 2-day conference in New York City, Daniel began what became a 3-day battle with the flu. He was determined he would not succumb. “It” knew he had no choice but to bend to its will.

Bending. That was the first hurdle. The doctor assured us that we still weren’t yet at a danger point, even though by noon, Daniel had vomited in excess of 8 times. All without bending. If there was an Olympic event for projectile vomiting, I’d always said my parrots would win. I think even they were impressed.

In between events, I did laundry, floor scrubbing, stripping chair covers off furniture, and scrubbing my hands until they felt like sandpaper. And that was only the first day. It was the first time I’d ever given thanks for linoleum kitchen flooring.

The second day, I became better at reading Daniel’s body language. Combine that with his brilliant sister’s idea – The Polar Express Popcorn Bucket – and we made great progress! He’d mightily rejected all other containers, tossing them hither and yon, proclaming, “I am not going to throw up!”. For whatever reason, when he saw his beloved Polar Express popcorn bucket, he gave in. “Mommy, get the bucket” were the sweetest words I’d heard in days.

For fear he’d become dehydrated, we hand fed him ice chips, yet another object for him to scorn. “I want ice cream”, he’d spit out between clenched teeth. After some serious begging, he accepted one or two ice chips, followed by, “you’re a mean Mommy! You won’t let me eat!”.

It’s difficult enough to see a child suffering in such a manner, but to struggle for several days, calming his accusations, convincing him that watered-down chicken broth was going to help him overcome the “bad, bad, sickies”, as he called them, was the stuff of nightmares. At one point, weak on his feet, swaying in front of the kitchen’s center island, he clutched his little hands together turning teary brown eyes to mine and pleaded, “Mommy, please, may I have a hamburger”.

Perspective is an interesting creature. Of all the things I’ve prayed for over the last few years, and have seen growth and change in Daniel – his abilty to walk, and then talk, an end to his head-banging and self-mutiliation – they are but faint “Alleluias!” compared to this week’s demonstrated ability to connect signals from his body with a need for an outward reaction:

“Mommy, get the bucket!!!”. Alleluia!

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