Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Ride on 102-year old coal-powered steamer. Shiny wooden floors, spewing black smoke. River content to sit and watch from the boat. His little tan legs hanging off the bench, his blue and orange tennis shoes coming straight out.

River traipsing behind us to ice cream shop. So tired he could barely move. Dragging his feet, whining. Barber shop owner offering him licorice. River ignores him and comes toward me.

River in car on ride home, begging to go on a boat again. I suggest he close his eyes and dream about boats. Within a few minutes, he is asleep. Occasionally, he’ll wake up and call out, “Mama, vamos en un barco? Por favor, mama.” His request was so sincere, so piteous, that I felt sorry for him. He slept almost the whole way home, but would occasionally call out for food, for water, observations on trucks or planes, requests for his plastic red dinosaur to be placed back in his hand, or angsty cries of “No puedo.”

When awake, he looked dazed and stared down or straight ahead. Upon arriving home, he hugged me in the driveway and didn’t want anything – to go in the house, to have water or milk, to go to the bathroom, to let me take off his diaper, to see his toys. He wanted only to be in my arms. His body was warm, as it had been when I removed him from his crib this morning, but hotter this time. He was crying without telling me a reason. I took his temperature with the ear thermometer and it was 102.4, the highest I’ve ever seen it.

I rock with River in the rocking chair and he quickly falls limp in my arms. After some time, I try to move my hand that is across his chest and bring it under his legs to carry him to bed. But every time I try to lift my hand, his hand pushes mine back down. After three tries, I pulled it away firmly. Then, from what I thought was sleep, he asked, “Mama, cancion.” I sang him our usual lullaby, “Duermete mi nino,” then placed him in his crib. He immediately rolled over into his usual sleeping position – face on the right-hand side, pressed up against the bars facing the door, hands under his diaper, rocking slightly. I covered him with his blanket and put his teddy bear Orso next to him. I feel sad that he’s suffering and a bit worried, lest it be something serious. Last night he slept fitfully, waking up several times, which woke up Mark and I and affected all of our sleep. Tonight we’ll be watching him carefully, giving him Tylenol and monitoring his temperature and his liquids.

River has been very attached to me over the past several days, but especially today. He frequently asked for my hand, wanted to sit next to me, be with me. The feeling of his small hands pressing against mine, his head relaxed against my right breast, his arms around my necks as I crouched down, the feeling of his fingers curled within mine, the rows of small white teeth he showed with his smile. Those are the things I’ll remember from our vacation.

One hour traffic jam on return trip. The stressful feeling of being surrounded by large trucks and semis, crazy drivers that don’t signal, vehicles that don’t follow the rules. Fear of one mistake and losing River.

Wanting to take my baby’s pain onto myself and away from him. Amazement at what a trooper he is, how far he walked, how many new sights he took in, the new environments he adjusted to, and how little he complained. The depth of my love continues to amaze me.

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