Monkey’s recovery continues apace. Yesterday was briefly a bit rough—he woke up in pain, pain bad enough for him to recognize—but with enough
drugs TLC we were able to smooth things out and have a pretty uneventful day. By bedtime he was looking kind of ragged again, though, and as I gave him his last dose of pain meds I said, “How ya doing, buddy?” and he crawled into bed saying, “Not so good, actually.”
So either I’ve already made him into a full-fledged drug addict who doesn’t deal well with the monkey on his back (ha! a monkey on Monkey’s back!), or it turns out that having a bunch of stuff cut out of your throat/head really hurts. WHO KNEW?
By the way, THANK YOU to everyone who warned me that post-surgical stench-breath was a possibility. I am pretty sure they took out his tonsils and adenoids and replaced them with a mixture of burnt toast and rancid cheese. Lord almighty. And of course all he wants to do is curl up with me and rest, so let’s just say this week I’m learning more about the strength of a mother’s love than I ever thought I would. Monkey’s had a couple of visitors and I’ve struggled with whether to warn them and/or pass out gas masks or just pretend like we haven’t noticed. I had to settle for casting severe looks at the dog and saying, “LICORICE!” in an embarrassed voice, then explaining that I am so sorry, but she seems to have an intestinal disturbance. I think it worked.
ANYWAY. This isn’t actually about Monkey, or even about the fact that yesterday, MY throat started to hurt, and today when Monkey said, “Want to lay down with me?” it took everything I had not to respond “HELL YES!” Just a little souvenir I seem to have brought home from the hospital, no doubt, because that place was FULL of sick people. The nerve.
No, today is about Chickadee.
I think it’s pretty well established that my darling daughter would prefer to be the center of attention whenever possible, as is her designated slot in life as a nearly-13-year-old girl. I’m sorry to report that I often find this troublesome, particularly when, say, her brother has just come home from surgery and she is 1) not very sympathetic and 2) seems quite put out that SHE is not allowed to have ice cream for dinner! Because we are SO MEAN and no one LOVES HER!
On the one hand, I sort of feel like Chickadee has a high-needs sibling because one of the karmic lessons she needs to learn is that it’s okay not to be the center of the universe at all times, and a little compassion thrown in the mix there would be good, too. On the other hand, there is no denying that we have been in Operation Deal With The Monkey Crisis mode for months, now, and if she feels like she’s getting the short end of the stick, it’s because… she really kind of is. We’re doing our best to make sure she gets everything she needs and adequate attention and time from us, but it’s hard. It feels unfair all around, and even though I may roll my eyes when her voice is growing ever-louder over the injustice of why SHE can’t have all the apple juice she WAAAAANTS, I know that in kid-speak she is not saying “I want apple juice,” she is saying, “It feels like he gets more of you and I don’t know how to say I want you, too.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. Maybe especially because Chickadee has continued—despite rather choppy waters here at home, with everything that’s been going on—excelling at just about everything, rather than using all of this as an excuse to slack off. Last year it felt like a losing juggling act, with her; if one thing got done, something else crashed to the ground. (“Oh, this 44 in English? I guess I kind of forgot to turn some stuff in…? It’s okay, it’ll be higher after I do that.”)
And this year, she’s just blossoming. While I’ve been berating myself over my parenting shortcomings, this kid has (ahem, brag alert): Stayed on the honor roll, gone to state Academic Bowl competition as part of a team that hasn’t been that far in years, won several Reading Bowl competitions (I forget what they’re up to now… Regionals, I think), won a couple levels of Science Fair, already been appointed next year’s yearbook editor owing to all of the work she’s done this year, and just completely rocked at everything she’s decided to do.
What’s more, Chickie took the SAT and qualified for all of the enrichment programs offered to kids enrolled in this gifted thing, so even though we’d warned her, beforehand, that we were “just taking the test to see,” Otto and I sat down with her scores and the web site and crunched the numbers and talked to her dad and… remember how I said we weren’t going to send her to any of those expensive summer programs? I think we lied.
The thought of sending my daughter away for three weeks this summer, three weeks without either me or her dad, well, it kind of makes my chest feel tight. But the thought of giving her three weeks where she’s free to be Just Chickadee amongst fellow nerdlings and not Monkey’s Sister or The Kid Who Has To Balance Between Divorced Parents or—heaven forbid—sending her to typical summer camp where she’d have to do sports and hate every minute… that makes me feel like this may be the best thing we could possibly do for her right now.
She’s THRILLED. I am trying to picture my shy little girl making her way among strangers for three weeks, far from home. I can’t see it, but then again, a year ago I never could’ve seen where she is now. I busy myself, instead, sharing my ancient stories of summer camp (which are truly some of my best childhood memories) and reminding myself this will be something she remembers her whole life. “I hope there aren’t any snotty rich kids,” she said to me, and when I stopped laughing we had a little talk about how you can’t let the snotty rich kids get you down, and always start with an open mind, etc.
Right now it feels like I’m nursing one little bird here in the nest with a broken wing, while the other one flies over our heads in ever-lengthening figure 8s. No one is more surprised than I am to discover that—while her stopovers are indeed precious to me—watching her soar is even better.