The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. J has admitted he has a problem. That didn’t stop him from enjoying his ham soup last night, and it didn’t stop him from enjoying his omelet this morning, but he knows he has to go to the TOOTH DOCTOR on Thursday.
He is not thrilled.
He is not impressed.
He has decided to immerse himself in Katy Perry to deal with the issue. As he sits on his couch wrapped in a blanket and holding an ice bag between shoulder and face (because, of course, the side that hurts is the side that has the evil arm of SIB doom that must be kept under control…go figure!) he is watching Katy Perry’s movie and looking slightly less forlorn.
We are calling the odontologist that will save (we hope) us from this predicament the TOOTH DOCTOR because the sign for DENTIST is a fist (thumb pointing away from the face) tapping on the side of the chin. When J saw this sign on the computer screen he immediately perked up, thinking that we were giving him our blessing to punch the bejeezus out of himself. I explained that it’s a soft tap, but he was smiling too much, and I figured it was best to go the roundabout way to get to our destination.
I periodically check in on him and remind him of Thursday’s appointment. Whatever SIB is taking place now is significantly milder, but we still ask him to try to verbalize why he does it. We know it’s partly pain, and we know it’s partly frustration. We suspect that he also realizes it gets him some concentrated attention from us when he wants it, and then he can control the flow of our presence. We wish, wholeheartedly, that he would adopt semaphore as a means of communicating his desire to have us near.
The pace of life has changed under these circumstances. The concerted effort we used to put into doing early chores and moving on to other stuff is gone, diluted. J helps when he wants to…sometimes when I cajole him. This doesn’t mean he’s sitting sadly…he’s just focusing on the things that are uncomfortable for him right now. We read stories, do puzzles, watch movies, go for walks when the weather is fine, but I’m sure it won’t be until after we know about the tooth (and the matter is fully resolved) that J will go back to thinking “oh, folding all this laundry is FUN! Let’s do bathrooms! Let’s vacuum!” Quite honestly, I feel the same way when I’m under the weather. A lot of “are you seriously telling me I have to clean this toilet???” happens to me when I’m not feeling so hot…
I can hear him giggling. He’s OK. He enjoys the things that he usually enjoys, but housework -sad for me to admit- isn’t something he enjoys so much as he knows he has to get through it to get to the good stuff. I wish I could explain to him that, while I look like I’m on a mission, I feel exactly the same way, but since I’m a grown-up and the adult in charge of this “workplace” my options are limited. I persuade him to join me by finding the right moment, the right mood.
We land in November with a dull thud. Thanksgiving is mere weeks away, the election (thank goodness!) will be come and gone soon, and Christmas is already seeping into everything. We have a very small turkey to mark the November holiday, a bottle of good scotch to ride out the election night news, and all the Twelve Days shopping is done.
We just have to get over the tooth, and figure out if the SIB goes when it goes. The rest, my friends, is cake…not necessarily chocolate cake with a creamy chocolate frosting, but cake nonetheless. It’s a question of whether it requires more milk than usual to choke it down, or whether it is moist, delicious and fragrant. Maybe it’s a lovely three-layer chocolate cake that deserves to be on the cover of some food porn magazine, or maybe it’s fruitcake…the kind that you use to prop a door open. Who knows?
We just go forward…and a little sideways…