The third week has brought some unexpected, but mostly good, developments. We were supposed to travel back to Baltimore earlier this week after staying with my family, but the night before our flight Gabe came down with some sort of illness. Jenny and I jumped into family-planning-logistical-mode (oh, the fun), and we quickly set up a doctor’s appointment for the next morning, called our pediatrician’s answering service, discussed changing our travel itinerary, and madly Googled his vague symptoms.
He had a fever and was irritable, but no other body systems seemed to be an issue. Was it teething? He is pushing out a molar. Was it an ear infection? He was grabbing at his ear, but he does that when he’s tired. Was it some awful, rare thing, like a twist in his intestinal tract? He was grabbing his tummy and rolling around a lot. After a dose of infant Tylenol and a lot of shushing and cooing, he finally fell asleep. He awoke at night several times with more discomfort, but when I awoke in the morning (at 0830!) he was lying in our bed between Jenny and I smiling up a storm like nothing had ever happened—like the previous night was some hallucination on our part.
After an hour of continued smiles and giggles we canceled the doctor’s appointment and chalked it all up to some sort of stomach bug. We could still make our original flight, but we were so exhausted from the night before that we decided to postpone our return flight. And it’s a good thing we did, for a lot of reasons.
Jenny was able to keep her writing momentum going and finish a major re-write on her script; I was able to make some professional contacts; I ate at my favorite local sub shop; and we were both able to see some friends. But even more interesting was that, when I was watching Gabe on Wednesday morning, he and I went to the neighborhood where I grew up (Travis Heights). My mom suggested I go to the little local park where they would take me as a kiddo, and I decided go for it. But what I didn’t know was that on the way to the park we would walk by my old daycare/preschool.
As we spent part of our time in Austin looking at daycares for our son in case we move back, I was already primed with a keen eye. As we came upon it, I realized this was the place I had spent the first several years of my life. My memories from that time are great: I remember some naps, and lots and lots of playing outside. We would run across what I thought was a huge yard, under soaring playscapes, all over the vast deck, and all over the monstrous swings. Several memories I have are of the staff trying to wrangle my friends and me inside. Another is of escaping a “time-out” (though it may have been some sort of “cool down” time) after my friends created a diversion and I rolled off the deck, back into the yard. Finally, there was a time when my best friend at the time and I both climbed on top of the swing set. This was epic—I remember a lot of screaming adults—since it was definitely too tall for kids to be on top of; there was potential for a broken bones if one of us fell. I remember all of this in complete disproportion to the actual place—
The swings were so tall!, the yard was enormous!, the deck was so big!
But when Gabe and I came up on it, I realized it was just like many of the other daycares: a converted house with a large backyard that was now a play area. But the yard was pretty modest, as was the deck. They were definitely not big. And the swings were probably seven or eight feet tall—average or small—not the ten or fifteen feet I would have bet they were. What was both sad and endearing was the fact that that it looked almost exactly the same as I had remembered it 25 years ago, only smaller.
Seeing this all so suddenly and unexpectedly made me compare each detail that I saw at the daycare to those of my memory only to come to the conclusion that everything was almost exactly the same. But I realized that Gabe may in fact end up with some ridiculous, fond, and perhaps awesome preschool memories, even at the fairly average daycare. The things we experience at that age will probably seem mythical and magical anyway because we’re so small and have so little context for things in the wider world.
In the end, I felt relieved knowing that even a daycare like the one I attended could lead to what I remember as pretty happy times. It takes some of the pressure of choosing the “right” one or the “best” one, which can seem like an overwhelming choice.
Oh, and we also played on at the little park, which I barely remembered! Then I drove by our old house and around our old neighborhood remembering my old neighborhood friends, wondering what my life would have been like if my parents had never moved. I don’t know where I’d be, but I wouldn’t be there, taking my son past my old daycare, over to play at the old park, looking at our old house—none of that would be happening. Who knows where life would have led?
So #SoD week 3 came to a very interesting and somewhat poignant end and took me a little by surprise—all thanks to a little indigestion.