When Robert was one month old, he spiked a 104° fever. We eventually learned it was just a virus, but before we learned that we had to make sure meningitis wasn't eating his spine. So we took him to the ER for a blood-n-pee workup. The blood came easily enough, but to get the pee the nurses had to use a catheter. I'll never forget the image of my new child lying on his back--naked, impaled, burning, shivering, and seriously wondering what upside there could be to this new, wombless hell. He was wailing miserably, and all I could do was watch him suffer.
Yesterday wasn't as bad as that, but it was still pretty awful.
I mentioned yanking off the Band-Aid earlier, but in fact getting the new apartment was only the first of the Three Big Rips. The others were 2) telling the children and 3) the actual move (which will likely take place without our elevator, because the fates have a burr up their collective b-hole).
Last night, timing dictated that we get take hold of that big, gooey adhesive and get on with Number Two. We knew it was best to sit the kids down as soon as I found my place, so we could establish the New Reality as soon as possible. This way, we have a good eight weeks to reinforce the steady routine of Dad's Not Gone before they both start new schools in the fall. If they'd had to digest both of those huge adjustments at once, I imagine they'd feel like someone had dumped their psyches into a blender and hit "gooify."
Sweet little TwoBert was spared. Blissfully ignorant and enamored of his butt cheeks, he responded to the news by toddling off the couch and taking off his pants. Robert cocked an eyebrow initially, but when I told him I was moving out--and the four chambers of my heart wrenched apart and fled to the far corners of my thorax--the tears came. And suddenly I was back in that blasted emergency room, brokenheartedly failing to convince an innocent that this awfulness was ultimately better than a spinal tap.
We collected ourselves, and talked for a bit more, and we sat back and watched a few innings of the Red Sox/Yankees game together. Then, during a commercial, Robert revealed his innate New Yorkerness by asking, "Will your place be bigger at least?"
Earlier today TwoBert and I were wrestling by the couch when he asked, "Daddy? When you leave you come back?"
"I will always come back," I said.
"Always come back?"
"Always come back."
"Always come back." Then he started giggling.
"What's so funny?"
"Always come butt!" Then he ran away and took off his pants.
Two Band-Aids off, one to go.