Parenting and Impossible Choices

So, Bunny had a chorus concert.

It was a long road to this concert, you see.  Many obstacles had to be overcome.  First of all, Bunny finally became old enough to join the school chorus but the teacher had moved on and there was no one to teach.  The school searched for more than a month after school started and finally found an extremely kind and generous man to take over.  Bunny was overjoyed, joined instantly, and hasn't missed a rehearsal - even though they happen an hour before school each week. (yawn)

They immediately began preparing for their Christmas concert.  Bunny was really excited and, thus, was fairly heartbroken when we received the email in December that the new chorus teacher was ill and the concert was cancelled.  But we discussed the fact that the thing we were most worried about was this nice man's health and he needed to do what was best so that he could get better.  So it was fine.  But we also hoped the concert was merely postponed and not cancelled.

Lo and behold - right before school got out for winter break, chorus resumed and the concert was rescheduled for January 30th.  Bunny's enthusiasm was renewed and she sang previews for me and told me about the dance the 5th grade girls had made up that was SOOOOO cute.  Exciting.

When I picked Pip up from school on the 30th, the first thing he said was, "My tummy hurts."  This is a slightly more alarming statement from Pip than it is from a kid who doesn't have a drain in his liver that exits through the top of his stomach.  But I hoped that it was just hunger...or a need to use the bathroom.  These things can also cause a liver kid to have tummy aches - just like any other kid.

When we got home, Pip said he was too hungry to wait for dinner and he ate a muffin and some cereal with milk while we waited for the Chinese food that took a crazy long time.  He also ate some rice and chicken before announcing he was too full to eat any more and his tummy hurt.  I suggested he lie down for a bit and see if it helped.  Maybe he ate too much too quickly.

I bustled about with hair bows and winter gear and then got everyone bundled and out the door and Pip seemed OK.  Chatty and not complaining.

I dropped Bunny at the door to the school and then went to find parking.  Pip said he didn't want to walk so I carried him for a block and then set him down.  When I did, he walked slightly hunched over and kept his right elbow out at an odd angle.

Oh dear.

We got inside and I could hear the chorus warming up.  I pulled Pip over to a bench and lifted his shirt.  There was a little blood running under the bandage from the exit site down to his belly button.

Oh dear.

I took him into the auditorium where Bunny leapt off the stage and removed her belongings from the two front-row seats she had saved for us next to her best friend's family.  I told the dad that I needed to call the hospital but had patchy reception in the building and left Pip with him while I called.  That poor dad.  "Here's my kid who might need to be rushed to the ER.  Watch him for me!"

I need to bake that man some cookies.

I called and was put on hold for a long time while they paged the GI Fellow as the time ticked down to the start of the concert and then was asked for my phone number so that they could call me back.  I went in and took my seat just as the concert was starting.

Two songs in, the phone rang.  I looked at Pip who was beginning to look pale and Bunny who was watching me out of the corner of her eye and froze for a split second.  And then I did the only thing I really could do...I think....I hope.   I ran out of the room and took the call.  Normally, the conversations are very short and the situation is cut and dried.  They generally tell me to bring him in.  But this guy didn't.  Because Pip had no fever, it wasn't emergent and the answer wasn't so clear.  The VERY nice doctor on the phone SLOWLY weighed the options and basically said it was up to me as to whether I brought him in that night or in the morning or, if the pain magically vanished overnight, not at all.

Yes...I know what you're thinking.  "If my child had blood running from a hole in his chest, I'd damn sure not waste my time making phone calls"   Yeah.  I know.  But there's kind-of a different threshold for a kid like Pip.  Blood running down his tummy, with no fever, isn't necessarily an emergency for him because we have done the life and death thing - a few times - and the reality is that he's a little bit patched together.

ANYWAY - by the time I got back in, I had missed 2.5 songs.  Bunny ran down from the stage to tell me I had missed her favorite song.  I quickly whispered that something was up with Pip's drain and it was the hospital on the phone and I had to take it but I couldn't wait to hear the rest of the concert.

Bunny got back on stage and did the rest of the concert with her chin quivering, wiping at her eyes every 30 seconds.  Her best friend even got the director to agree to redo the important song I had missed.  But, by that time, Bunny was finding it impossible to overcome her disappointment and, of course, the other 3rd grade girls fed off the drama by whispering to her between songs and making panicky gestures and faces at one another so there could really be no recovery.

Meanwhile, Pip was leaning against me asking me to please take him home because his tummy hurt and he just couldn't stay any longer.  And I desperately wanted to take him home.  And I desperately wanted to stay for my little girl and let her know that there was no place on earth I'd rather be.  And I desperately wanted the universe to contain fewer holiday songs.  Why are there SO many holiday songs?  Do we really NEED all those?

I spent the entire eternity of that concert whispering to Pip that it would be OK and trying to find ways to comfort him during the songs and then trying to clap enthusiastically (with a sick child leaning on my arm) while smiling broadly and whooping and trying to make eye contact and get a smile to stop the tears.

I finally figured out a way to make Pip comfortable and he fell asleep until the concert ended.  At the end of the show, Bunny ran to me and simply howled.  I explained again why I took the call and she said "I know.  I'm not mad at you.  But I was sad during a whole concert when I should have been happy and now it's all over and I missed my chance." (There's kind-of a HUGE life lesson in there, ain't there?)  I held her with one arm and the sleeping Pip in the other and I shed a couple tears myself.  There had not been a single right answer in that situation and, in the end, I had failed them both.

There are some truly awful moments in parenting, ya'll.  Make no mistake.

But, fortunately, they are generally temporary.

Some hugs and kisses stopped the tears.  The dad next to me offered to take Bunny with them for a sleepover if I needed to go to the hospital and an impromptu slumber party (on a school night, no less!) is enough to turn a girl's night completely around.  And an incredibly nice dad who is also an ER doctor at a local hospital looked at Pip's tummy and said "I think you should take him."

So I no longer had to suffer over what to do.  Everything fell together and became really clear.

We raced home, bags were packed, teddy bears were located, Bunny was dropped off , Pip was admitted, and the drain - which had come partially out and was pretty darn nasty by around 10pm that night - was changed the following afternoon.

Everything that was wrong has been righted (except I'm supposed to obtain a video of the 1.5 songs that I missed and I'm not sure how to go about that.)

The Universe does seem to work that way if you give it a little time.

Or sometimes a long time.

Or sometimes the length of what feels like the longest January 30th holiday concert in the history of January 30th holiday concerts.

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