Monday, April 20, 2015

closing time

On Friday I took both boys for their annual check-up. I had to beg the pediatrician to fit us in between their actual birthdays and before this baby, as they do not schedule three appointments at the same time. 11 yo needed shots, so the insurance would not cover a visit before his actual birthday. I ended up taking them on Friday afternoon.

Between my dear friend and my MIL, I did not have to bring all four kids with me, so I assumed the appointment will be a piece of cake. The pediatrician is located not far from the taekwondo studio, so maybe we would even make it to a Friday afternoon class, in the spirit of trying to get in as many classes before the baby as possible. I told boys to pack up their uniforms and gear and load up.

When we were being taken in by a nurse, 11 yo asked right off the bat whether there are any shots in store. He was told that there are going to be two, and he took that info in stride. Then 9 yo timidly inquired whether he is getting any shots. He was reassured that there will be none, and he visibly exhaled. Then, as the nurse was finishing inputting their measurements, she said how 9 yo will need a finger stick to measure his cholesterol, but it is not a big deal.

It turned out to be a big deal. For a child with anxiety, being told something new like this was a big deal. He immediately kicked into full panic mode: crying, screaming, begging not to be pricked, asking why he deserves this, etc. It took three nurses to hold him down to get that prick. By this point, 11 yo was starting to lose his cool, so be stepped out. I was trying to talk to 9 yo, and I even asked the nurses to back off, to give him on minute to decide which hand will get pricked, but he was too far gone. I remained calm for as long as I could, but when he started trying to kick the nurses, I firmly said that he cannot do that. Meanwhile, the nurses invoked: "Don't upset your pregnant momma" mantra which I really wished they didn't. At the end, he was left sniffling and screaming, huddling on a chair, waiting for a doctor.

11 yo hopped onto an exam table, and mumbled something about losing his resolve to stay calm for his shots. He tried lightening the mood in the room by clowning around a bit. The rest of the appointment was unremarkable, and 9 yo cooperated with the doctor just fine. Then those shots came. By the time the nurse told 11 yo to relax and stuck him, he went into hysterical giggling: "It didn't hurt! It didn't hurt!" He was laughing, but there were tears in his eyes. Clearly, he had had enough emotions and they were spilling out.

When we checked out, there were only ten minutes left till taekwondo, so I asked boys whether they wanted to rush it. Both of them shook their heads "no", so we hit the ice cream store instead. Ever since the kids were vey little, I promised ice cream for those doctor appointments which involved shots. It was a nice way to end a possible nerve-wrecking outing, and it left a taste of something sweet. I did not promise such a treat to boys apriori, but, after what we've all been through, it seemed fitting.

It was raining, and it has been raining for the whole week. The ice cream place is outdoors, but they have a small canopy. Everyone ordered a scoop, and we stood there, silently eating our cones and looking out into the rain.

It was the zen moment of the day. 9 yo finally relaxed. 11 yo was rendered speechless, just savoring his cone and standing there. I was thinking of what my life would be like if I only had to take care of a 9 yo and 11 yo, instead of catering to much smaller creatures. I was enjoying this moment of knowing that everyone near me is relaxed, content and thankful for the treat (both boys thanked me, easing into gratitude).

The speaker above us pumped in "Closing Time" by Semisonic. How fitting: I have heard this song numerous times, but never paid very close attention to the words, assuming it is all about being kicked out of a bar. Recently, I have seen a little tidbit floating around, saying that the song is really about impending parenthood, and the ambivalent feelings that come with it. Now I was really listening.

I am in my last weeks pregnancy, yet I feel strangely unsettled. I can't put a finger on it: what is that project, that nesting activity that I need to complete in order to feel ready and prepared for this baby? It is not a matter of finding a trusting practitioner, or getting labor support. It is not a matter of a doula. It is not a matter of getting baby things set up. I have all of that in place, or close enough. It is a hang-up in my brain, keeping me from being ready.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

As we were looking into the rain, my two older boys and I, I had this strong feeling how this might be the last Shabbos that I am having with just four kids. This baby is a new life, a new beginning, yet, it is also an end of an era. It is the end of "four kid" stage. It might sound funny to those who have one or two kids: does it really make any difference whether there are four kids or five? Isn't four already in the slightly crazy, big family category? Besides, the youngest is only two, so this "four kid" stage only lasted for a short while. Yet, in my head, four was within some grander logical scheme, and five is beyond that. Five is a whole next step. Five is where I cannot keep them all at home. Five is where we do not fit into any sedan, no matter how we contort ourselves. Five does not fit around a standard table. Five is this new area, which does not fold into itself neatly. It is a prime number, it is a star.

"Every new beginning come from some other beginning's end."

My last surviving grandmother is on her last breath. My mother is with her, and it is also an end of an era. It's the end of my grandparents, it is the end of my kids being blessed with having seen their great grandmother. We visited her in the summer, but she has long joined the dementia world of endless summer, or endless dark, so it was not a coherent visit.It was a long good-bye, drawn out over many moons, many years. Now, as a great grandchild is about to take a first breath, a generation is taking its last. The interplay of grief/relief/joy, the end juxtaposed with a beginning.

We finished our ice creams and came home to the usual hustle and bustle of a four kid household in preparation for Shabbos. "You don't have to go, but you can't stay here."

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