Saturday, February 26, 2005

It's a Cold—Not the Plague

My son has a cold. No big deal, just the usual runny nose and occasional cough, along with running around and having fun like the crazy nut he is. But today his dad sent me an email (son's at his dad's house today), saying the kid's cough sounds rattly and he wants me to take the kid to the doctor if it doesn't clear up in the next couple of days.

When the kid was a baby he had adorable, edible, chunky baby legs, but has since turned into a string bean (similarly adorable and edible, nonetheless). Takes after his dad that way. When he was still in the chunky-legs phase, though, his dad turned to me and asked, "Do you think his legs are too fat?" My thoughts were:

1. No.
2. Stop worrying.
3. If they are, should we put him on a DIET?? (geez)
4. Are you asking me this because you already think I'm fat and you think I passed down my fat genes?
5. He's a baby, fer chrissakes!
6. I can't believe I'm hearing this.

I think I replied with some slightly muted combination of #1 and #5.

On our way home from the hospital, he wanted to calculate the date of my last period prior to pregnancy one more time, in case he wasn't the father. When I asked him, "Are we going to do this AGAIN?" he backed off and said he'd never mention it thereafter. To his credit, he hasn't.

When we were first taking the kid for immunizations, my son's dad was sure if we started too early we'd make the kid autistic.

He also thought I was sending him secret "fuck you" messages because I wore rings on my middle fingers back then. He told me once that my hair was "pushing [him] away."

So now I have to drag out the common cold information from our former pediatrician (nationally acclaimed, as luck would have it) and possibly get ready to take the kid to the doctor if I can't allay his dad's fears.

It doesn't matter that the kid is bouncing off the walls, feverless, happy as can be, playing with all his toys and video games and eager to go outside. If I don't take him to the doctor and, heaven forbid, the kid is still coughing on Wednesday when he next goes to his dad's house, I'll be labeled "difficult." Not "reasonable," not "level-headed," not "informed," not [fill in the positive adjective of your choice].

This from the man who bought the kid a booster seat for the car and put it in the front seat. Hello, airbags? The same man who used to let our son use a sharp metal stereo shell as a tunnel for his trucks. The same man who...oh, let's face it, said and did a lot of dangerous things.

This is why we're not together.

I have no qualms about doing what I think is right. I consult the books, I ask my folks (who raised four healthy kids), I talk to other moms, I call the doctor and ask the questions, and I take the kid to the doctor when it seems necessary.

In fairness, I suspect my son's dad's worries these days stem from his limited—compared to what it would be if we were married—contact with our boy. Also, as he's over 50, this is likely the only child he will have. (Yes, I know he could father more children, but I doubt he will, especially since he seemed to turn and run when I once told him our son should have siblings.) I can understand his fears, and I suppose I'd feel the same way if I were the one a little bit removed from the day-to-day stuff.

This is what keeps me from going over the edge where he's concerned. This is what helps me maintain some sense of compassion for him.

But it's a pain in the ass sometimes.