I'm not sure why we're blessed in this way, but my children have a startling predilection for toe infections. TwoBert is currently convalescing from the latest, which makes somewhere between four and 1,000. We know the drill by heart--lance it, gauze it, and avoid the cherry-flavored oxycillin because it tastes like excreted cough drops--but until yesterday we hadn't had to seek medical attention while living in our remote outpost of a neighborhood.
So begins the epic saga of The Plum That Ate TwoBert.
It began Sunday, after a few hours of pool basketball left all three of us with red necks and abraded toes. Everything seemed fine and asymptomatic on Monday, but yesterday T woke up with a purple toe-blister that left him hobbling like a pirate. My first thought was to take him down to our regular pediatrician, but I frankly wanted to explore our new neighborhood's options. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the wisest idea to do this in 90+ heat with a 40-pound wigglebot on my shoulders.
The first place inspired optimism because it has a separate floor just for kids, very pleasant desk jockeys, and PBS Kids on in the corner. But nooooo, they couldn't treat him because I hadn't made an appointment, and you need to fill out this form to change your GP, and how about the ER 40 blocks away? Then I hovered by a treatment room and looked stricken until an RN agreed to an "off the record" look. She bent down and squinted at this pulsating blob and said, "Wow. That looks really awful." Really? "Wow"? Aren't medical professionals supposed to be jaundiced in the face of trauma? Don't they look at a guy with multiple GSWs and a missing head and then phlegmatically scarf down a spaghetti lunch?
The second place was a private, cash-only clinic, and the head nurse said to us, very Russianly, that "zee doctor izz not pediatreeshan but he vill dake a look." Then I saw the doctor, who might have been a very skilled diagnostician ... during Prohibition. He lumbered and trembled and looked like a much larger and decrepit version of this guy, and we sort of fled.
Finally, I did what I should have done two hours earlier and drove him to our pediatrician, who, like apparently everyone else in the office, is on vacation. When the nurse put us in an exam room, I noticed there were lots of other people waiting in other exam rooms, and they had long, gray beards and cobwebs in their nostrils.
The first hour went pretty quickly, while we read books and played Go Fish and did card tricks and practiced the alphabet and rudimentary touch-typing on the room's PC. After two hours, though, I was pretty much out of tricks, and T, getting antsier by the minute, began making fart noises with his forearm. And I thought: this was genius. We could modify the "squeaky wheel" strategy and be the Farty Wheels who made so many obnoxious noises that they'd move heaven and Earth to get us the hell out of there. He started singing songs about poop and butts and farts that became louder and more visceral once he saw I wasn't going to make him stop. We farted with our squishy cheeks, with our armpits, with zerbits on any exposed, hairless flesh that either of us could find.
I don't know if it worked, but we were out of there with a bandage and a scrip within half an hour.
This would be easy to frame as a lost afternoon of frustration and tedium. But it was also six hours alone with my little boy, who, as my aching shoulders will attest, is getting less little by the second. He starts full-time school in the fall. He's obsessed with his bike. He wants more playdates with his "girlfriends." So as far as I'm concerned, yesterday will always live in my mind as a unique moment in time, when TwoBert and I farted our way to freedom.