These are the (sick) days
At fifteen months, one week and three days he wakes with a fever I can’t figure out or diagnose until my mind hears the doctor’s voice from last week saying he may experience exactly that symptom after the vaccine shots meant to protect him from far worse things. He acts normal, save wanting to be held more frequently than usual, splayed fingers stretching toward my face or wrapped around my legs. But when he is down, he putters contentedly, helping.
I am not the creator of his schedule on weekdays, and I find myself wondering what he would be doing were I where I usually am on Monday mornings — sitting at a computer behind a desk next to a window looking out onto the street. It’s a loophole that works to his advantage, because I just assume snack time is whenever he requests it. “Gaga?” he asks, pointing toward the kitchen expectantly. All day long, the crackers flow freely.
The fever I dislike, but this day as a whole I relish. He tells me stories with made up words. I exclaim over toddler-sized victories, watching his flushed cheeks rise to show a gap tooth smile. Blue Hat, Green Hat is requested twelve times in a row, and he laughs his little chuckle at the end of every page, full of mirth at that silly misguided turkey, or maybe just because of the “Oops!” that punctuates his turkey antics. He smacks the book when the story ends and flips it back to the front, folding his hands in his lap in preparation for the next go around.
Nap time is greeted with an enthusiastic clamber into the rocking chair and a chorus of “Na-na”s—the familiar chant we use to say goodnight at the end of every day. Na-na Daddy. Na-na Noah. Na-na Ro Ro. Na-na Mama. Na-na Max. It takes only a minute for his eyes to surrender to sleep, but I hold him an extra long time afterwards, just in case.
He wakes an hour later. He stands and silently sways his arms over the side rail, surveying his room with rumpled hair. I lift him out of the crib and he performs his signature move, a head nestle straight into the crook of my neck. He smells like sweet baby sweat and cinnamon bread. We stand like that together, crown to chin, and everything pauses, still and settled. With a wiggle, he signals descent. I put him on the floor and follow him out, ready for whatever mischief his 15-month-old mind might conjure.