My eight year old came down the stairs saying she didn’t feel well the other morning. Now, as a father of five, I’ve grown to view claims of sickness with…shall we say…a fair amount of wariness.
My seven year old comes down the stairs every single morning like the wounded hero at the end of an epic action movie. She’s limping. Her hair is in her eyes. Her hand is on her stomach and she’s groaning but carrying bravely on towards her waffle on the kitchen table. And each morning she has an impressively varied list of maladies for someone so young. One morning she actually said her knuckles hurt. I almost let her stay home just to award points for originality. Except not.
It’s gotten so comical that my other children now will sometimes come down the stairs doing imitations of the seven year old with a little extra melodrama thrown in for comedic effect.
But anyway, this was my eight year old saying she didn’t feel well and she never says she’s sick. And one look at her face and I could tell she was ill. Her face was pale, her cheeks were bright red, and her eyes were glassy. I told her to lie on the couch while I got the others ready. She even refused her waffle. That’s how I really knew things were bad.
Unfortunately, she had to ride with us to school but when we got home she immediately crashed on the couch. Poor thing. I checked her temperature and it was 102 degrees.
So at nine o’clock sharp I called the doctor. I got the answering machine and I didn’t think it was an emergency so I just left a message. Around ten thirty I started getting my dander up a bit because I hadn’t gotten a call back.
At 11:30 I called the doctor again. And yeah, I pressed the option for emergencies. And what did I get? The same stinking message I’d gotten last time. Some emergency number!?
I fed the four year old and the two year old lunch. I didn’t wake the eight year old because I figured sleep was what she needed most. As you can imagine, keeping the four year old and the two year old away from the sleeping sick girl wasn’t easy. I was like a rodeo clown waving action figures or snacks at them to try to get them to follow me out of the room.
By 1 pm. I was mad. By 1:15 I qualified for ticked off.
Finally at 1:30 I got the call back from the doctor’s office. And I started calmly. “My eight year old woke up this…”
“Date of birth?” the male nurse interrupts me with that tone that says “you’re my 165th call of the day and you’re probably the least important.” Mind you, this doctor has been great over the years. At one point during a particularly serious illness by one of my children she’d actually given us her home phone number so I didn’t blame her. But I could tell I didn’t like this new nurse. Not even a little.
I started telling him what was wrong and he does it again. He interrupts me. This time he’s asking for the spelling of my daughter’s name. OK. I tell him how to spell her name and I immediately segue into how my eight year old woke up with a fever and her cheeks were very red and she said her stomach was hurting her…
“Uhm, Mr. Archbold is this your first?”
“First? First what?” I asked.
“Is this your first child?” he says snippily.
Now I despise this question. This question is essentially asking “You have no idea what you’re talking about, right?”
So now my anger is reaching Chernobyl levels. I passed high dudgeon a few dudgeons ago. “No sir. I have five children.” Now, I tried hard to keep it together but I didn’t. Not even close. “Listen, I think I know when my child is sick. And I don’t appreciate you thinking right away that I’m overreacting. I’m here. I’m looking at my child and I know when she is sick. You, not being here, are just going to have to take my word for it. And I don’t appreciate at all not getting called back for six hours from my child’s doctor.”
“Uhm. When was the last time you took her temperature?” he asked.
“I’ll take it right now,” I say huffily. Oh yeah, I brought the huff.
So I got the thermometer out and I walked out of the kitchen towards the couch when I look up and there’s my eight year old looking at me all bright eyed and bushy tailed.
As I stuck the thermometer in her ear she smiled at me.
Oh no. 98.4. I try again. 98.8. Darn!!! I hesitatingly tell the nurse that she’s not running a temperature RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND BUT BEFORE IT WAS VERY….
“Sir, how is she feeling now?” he interrupts again.
I ask my eight year old how she’s feeling and she practically screams out that she’s completely all better and perfect so that the doctor’s office next door to our doctor could’ve heard. She then stands up off the couch and screams “See! I’m all better!”
And you know what this father thought. I thought “Darn! Why’d she have to be all better now?” Yeah. I’m not saying it was a good thought but it’s what I thought.
I practically heard the nurse cluck at me in victory. Yes. He clucked! I imagined him doing a touchdown dance. I thought I heard him moonwalking in his crocks and spiking the phone at one point.
“So I guess we’re all better then, right?” he said solicitously as if now he was Mother Teresa. “Anything else I can do for you?”
“No,” I said. I thought about telling him about her very very very high temperature earlier but at that point I was looking for an exit strategy.
When I hung up the phone I knew that he was rolling his eyes about me.
But hey, at least my eight year old wasn’t feeling sick anymore. Darn her! She looked up at me, smiled, and sweetly asked if she could please have her waffle from this morning. I told her the two year old ate it. I spiked the thermometer and moonwalked into the kitchen. Not really. I made her a fresh waffle. But then I allowed the two year old and the four year old to maul her.