Regular readers of this blog know that this past Memorial Day weekend wasn’t only the unofficial start of summer, it was the official start of our granddaughter Sydney’s life.
And, although my wife Barbara and I didn’t get to the beach (not because of Sydney; I just don’t like the beach–too much sand), we spent the summer soaking up Syd’s beautiful smile and acquiring all the baby stuff about which I’ve already written.
It’s been well over three decades since Barbara and I have interacted with a baby on anything resembling a regular basis. The intervening years have consisted, baby-wise, of my looking at someone’s baby and making noncommittal word-like sounds about it (“Mmm, ah, it’s, um, yeah”) and Barbara holding someone’s baby and being alarmingly reluctant to give it back.
So we’ve really enjoyed once again having a baby of our own (if, by “of our own” we mean “our daughter’s, and we take care of her once a week”). I love holding the little girl. I love the way she breaks out in a broad grin whenever she sees her grumps. I love how she seems to like it when I whistle “Feelin’ Groovy.” I love being able to immediately hand her off to someone else when she begins to cry.
Her parents, Casey and Alex, take her everywhere, and she behaves wonderfully, smiling at everyone she meets, appearing to be fascinated with, say, the fish in the aquarium, or pictures on a wall, or her feet. When she’s out on the street (usually accompanied by an adult), people stop to comment about what a beautiful, happy baby she is.
But, as I said, a lot of time has passed since our daughter was a baby, and those were years that Barbara and I have mostly spent getting old. So I suppose we can be forgiven for forgetting something important about babies.
They get sick.
It happened on Columbus Day. Casey had spent the weekend at a college reunion hanging with old friends and Barb and I had spent the long weekend in New Orleans eating. It had been the longest any of us had been separated from Syd, and Barb missed the baby so much she actually Facetimed with her while in the car on the way home from the airport. (Casey was on the Facetime call, too, but only because Sydney does not yet have a data plan.)
Later that day, Casey called to say that Syd was running a slight fever. The next day, I woke up at 5:30 to find this email from Casey:
“So, we had an eventful night. At 2:30 she woke up crying and HOT. Fever of 103.4. On call doc wanted us to go to the ER. Everything is fine. Fever came down. Tested negative for flu. They’re ruling out a urinary tract infection. Can you tell mom to call me when she wakes up?”
The reason she wanted Barb to call was because she knew I would be mostly useless in any situation involving illness management, especially since I had conveniently erased from my memory any of the icky parts of baby management, including (especially) diaper management.
Anyway, the doctors decided that Syd had some sort of virus, possibly picked up while mushroom foraging with her father while Casey was at the reunion. There is absolutely no medical basis for that hypothesis, but I figure it couldn’t be a coincidence that the first time Sydney got sick was the first time Alex was left to his own devices–and mushrooms–for any length of time. And I don’t know much about mushrooms, but the one he is pictured holding along with his daughter looks like it was picked from some psychedelic sequence in an old Disney animated feature. (continued below photo)
So Barbara drove down to the Bronx to lend moral and grandmotherly support and Syd’s fever came down, and it all turned out fine. Of course, that’s easy for me to say; I didn’t have to deal with the suppositories.
By the time our weekly day with Syd rolled around on Thursday, she was her usual grinning self . . . until she wasn’t and I left the room.
See you soon.