Life gets a little interesting when one parent is put on the disabled list.
I may be giving my kids a little too much credit, but I think my boys sense weakness and exploit it when the opportunity arises. It's as if they realize they now have the numbers and can easily wreak havoc on the lone parent, who is relegated to the role of simply trying to maintain a touch of peace and a semblance of order.
Last month, Pam came down with a serious ear infection, leaving her out of commission for a spell. When not at work, that left me pulling the daily load for the most part.
Last week, the roles were reversed, as Pam was left handling all aspects on the kids' front because I underwent hernia repair surgery.
In any shape or form, recovering from surgery is no fun, but I learned quickly that this procedure was anything but a walk in the park and that my trusty little bottle of painkillers and huge bags of ice would be my only comfort of the weekend. As far as parenting goes, I was no good to anyone.
In the days preceding the surgery, I fretted over not being able to play with my kids for a couple weeks. Doctor's orders were not to lift anything exceeding 10 pounds for 10 days (Beckett weighs 30 pounds now, while Carson tips in at a robust 18 pounds). I immediately learned any worry over a desire to pick up my kids was unnecessary. The pain and sensitivity in the lower regions prevented that from even being a consideration.
Putting on my own pants and shoes was enough of a struggle. There was no desire to give Carson a bath or chase Beckett off the fireplace (his favorite new place to get dizzy). It was all I could do to stand upright for a matter of minutes without feeling nauseated. I soon learned that a friend's description of hernia surgery and the recovery would ring true. He said it was like being kicked in that particularly sensitive area for a week straight. That about sums it up.
Besides that uncomfortable feeling after surgery, perhaps the moment I will most remember is Pam bringing Beckett to me one morning. She put my son on the bed but quickly told him I had a 'boo-boo'. To illustrate the point, I showed him some of the bandages on my stomach. He quickly pointed and said, 'boo-boo,' and put his head on my shoulder, showing a sensitive side rarely on display.
In customary fashion, he pushed off in a flash and was gone, putting my wife in chase mode.
When one parent is injured or sick, it always makes matters difficult for the other. I found this out when Pam was on restricted duties for a few months after back surgery early last year. However, we were a one-child family then, and Beckett was not even crawling yet. With a toddler who enjoys testing the limits at all times and a newborn who can be quite demanding if he's not fed every four hours, I had the easier end of the deal on that front.
Beckett checked out the zoo for the first time a couple weekends ago, while Carson slept through the entire experience.
To my surprise, besides the occasional 'whoa', my toddler did not show a lot of excitement for just about anything on this excursion.
As is usually the case with him, Beckett was more interested in running freely than taking in the monkeys, llamas, buffaloes or any other animal calling the zoo home.
By far the highlight of the trip for him was his time in the kids' play area. As has been an issue for some time, our little guy is a runner. He can always be counted on to flee the scene with reckless abandon, no matter the location.
On this particular day, he wanted no part of the fun swings, slides, sand boxes, etc. As soon as he spotted an unattended opening to a parking lot, that dominated his attention. He has an odd fascination with tires and he repeatedly sprinted from the play area to the parking lot over and over again.
In between sprints to gather him, I could not help but notice dozens of kids having a ball with their parents nearby. Rather than getting excited by all the available areas to play, my kid was busy dashing to the parking lot, pointing out tires and the color of certain vehicles to random strangers.
This desire to run can be quite dangerous and frustrating. On good days, I think it's a sign he's an independent soul. A nonconformist if you will. On other days, it leaves me bewildered and agitated.
That's why the beach this time of year is a wonderful place for him because it's a wide expanse and he can just run loose at will, so long as its not straight toward the ocean, which has been known to happen.
Knowing Beckett was a runner, a nurse, prepping me for that annoying surgery discussed earlier, told me in no uncertain terms do not be embarrassed to resort to the leash with a child. A mother of two, she said her son was just like my oldest in that he would run away from her often and never look back. A scary incident at an airport convinced her to use it for a spell in crowded places.
Too many more chase sessions and I may come around to Pam's thinking that it might teach him to stand pat a bit more. She seems to think it will force to stand near us and maybe even encourage a little handholding.
On one hand, I admire that he's not clingy in any way. However, surely there's a middle ground somewhere between that and constantly fleeing the scene. Discovering what this is has eluded us to this point.