You know what's more demanding than a toddler? A sick toddler.
You know what cranks that demanding dial up another seventeen gazillion notches? A sick toddler on steroids.
So let me back up a little here. For the past week or so, there has been a cold, crawling its relentless way through the family. It started with Tre, and then Clay fell, then Max, then Raphael. It was your standard cold, with sneezing and bleary eyes and coughing. Gar. I hate the coughing. So I have spent the last week washing my hands obsessively, swallowing every supplement I could think of to keep myself well, and thinking fiercely about how I didn't intend for Sophia or me to get sick.
And that worked. For a while. Sophia woke up somewhere in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and when I scooped her out of her crib, she was radiating feverish heat. Through the day she persisted in peakedness, saving the very best for the middle of the next night, when she woke up wheezing and coughing that tell-tale bark of a cough.
Croup. Stinking croup.
Four AM found Sophia and I in the bathroom, her looking in bewilderment at the hot water running full blast in the shower. I held her and worked on uncrossing my eyes. None of the boys ever had croup, and yet I'm already an expert in it. Let me explain it in the most precise terms here: croup sucks.
So fine, the next day we were away to the doctor, and that day she got her medicine - two doses of steroids to take down the swelling in her throat. That stuff works, I'll give it that. By the time she went to bed last night, she was breathing clear again. She slept fairly well last night.
She needed her energy to be a tiny pink ogre.
All day today she was an insane little crazy child. Nothing made her happy. The first day she was sick, I was drinking some tea that she didn't like the taste of. So she sat on my lap, and every time I took a sip, she screamed. Today I wished I could have that gentle, reasonable child back.
She screamed if I tried to put her down. She screamed if her brothers stood too close to her. She screamed if I touched the newspaper. She screamed if I tried to eat something. And forget offering her anything to eat (although she was open to eating chunks of butter, and when I nixed that idea, she...screamed).
All day long she was little princess mood swing. At one point I picked her up, sighing a little that there was no way to cuddle her without bringing The Voice so close to my ears. Once she was up in my arms, she curled against my chest. She grabbed a strand of my hair with gentle fingertips and croaked "mm-hmmm, mm-hmmm, mm-hmmm," our favorite baby-soothing sound, in a squawky sweet voice. I melted. Poor little pumpkin. I stroked her hair and murmured, "Oh, sweetie, you just don't feel good, do you?"
And she sat up, screamed in rage, and smacked me in the face.
I was not, it seems, invited to speak.
So that was our day. And tonight, in leiu of going to sleep, Sophia started coughing until she gagged herself and threw up all over both me and Clay. Now she's staggering around, so tired. I'm so tired. Clay is tired, although he won't admit it.
I'm not sure which of us I feel most sorry for.
Okay, it's her.
But it's pretty darn close.