After having a cold for six weeks, the baby got really sick the weekend before last. He ran a low fever, got good and congested and, my personal favorite, started having trouble breathing. I was up most of Sunday night and Monday morning giving him asthma medicine or sitting in a steaming bathroom. When he slept I remained vigilant, checking for blue lips and making sure he was asleep rather than unconscious, singing modified nursery rhymes, “Are you breathing, are you breathing / brother Gianluca, brother Gianluca?” I sent Sam off to the doctor with him the minute the clinic opened because I couldn’t get his breathing to a level I was comfortable with. I stayed home with Paolo for two reasons: I didn’t want him to pick up some foul illness from the waiting room, and he was scheduled to get fillings at noon.
I’d been dreading Paolo’s dentist appointment for weeks. Whenever I thought about it, my throat closed up and my stomach turned inside out. Remember, I had very good reason to expect the end of the world. I’d planned on getting all worked up Monday morning, surrendering myself to the black dread, before the appointment at noon. However, I was so fraught with images of Gianluca being hospitalized or having to wear an oxygen mask, I didn’t have as much worry to spare on poor Paolo. A person’s heart can only get so heavy.
Gianluca was diagnosed with a double ear infection and bronchiolitis, and prescribed three different medications, but the pediatrician assured Sam his condition wasn’t all that bad. His breathing was much deeper than it sounded, thanks to all the work we’d done prior to bringing him in. Hooray for us! Keeping Paolo from the grave during his first winter yielded a considerable store of experience, which appears to be paying off.
Now, on to Paolo. As noon approached, the sun was blotted out by a cloud of locusts. Not really, but that’s how hopeful I was feeling. Before we left the house, I overheard Sam tell Paolo that, if he went through with this, if he let the dentist do everything he needed to do, Paolo could go to the toy store and pick out anything he wanted. Anything. Before you shake your heads, you have to know Paolo. The promise of kingdom come will not mitigate the terror he feels at the dentist. Besides, Sam and I both knew the staggeringly bad odds those cavities had of getting filled, and Paolo isn’t greedy anyway. He ended up picking out a little Lego set. And, yes, that means he went through with it. I have never been prouder of my little boy, who isn’t so little anymore, not in my eyes.