Monday, October 8, 2007

Mr. Mom

Well, today is a like a dream come true. I was always a huge fan of the movie Mr. Mom and today I got to live the out the film.

As stated in the gory details post I got home from checking Tamara into the hospital, and relieved our friends around 1:00 a.m. Monday morning (late Sunday night).

My fun Mr. Mom day started at shortly after 5:00 a.m. Emma woke up and her sister Hannah brought Emma upstairs to me. Emma is still sick and I could tell she was feeling pretty horrible. At around 5:45 a.m. she threw up. Gratefully she didn't have much in her tummy. I cleaned her up and got her settled again. I then emailed my work so that folks knew I would not be in the office, I read a bit and then started getting the kids up for school just after 7:00 a.m. It was later than I should have started, but the kids got up pretty quick once they knew mom wasn't there to help.

The big kids handled getting ready for school without mom pretty well except for one thing. They had to make their lunch on their own and were in shock and disbelief. One German cultural note, the school lunch is actually brunch or what the German grade school (Grundschule) calls breakfast - (Frühstück). The kids make small lunches all the time when I am around, but they claim that it is 100 times better when mom makes the lunch for them.

Hannah was coughing and I had a doctor's appointment for Ian (immunizations) and Emma (follow-up for her croup and bronchitis). So I kept Hannah home from school and took her with me to the doctor. She was a huge help with Emma and Ian throughout the morning. Emma's bronchial problems had disipated, Ian didn't cry too much after his immunization shot. He only had one and had recently been getting 3 and 4 shots per visit. So, I think he was like - that's all, and just stopped crying.

With Hannah, I saw a miracle. First off, she was not sick with bronchitis like emma and just had a case of croup (which is bad, but better than bronchitis and croup). Second, I'm not sure what it is about Hannah's German experience that has changed her so, but I am just filled with awe and wonder whenever I see the change manifest itself. This was Hannah's first visit to the doctors here in Germany and so they wanted to weigh her and measure her height (standard stuff). In America she would have cried and even screamed and kicked and pulled and maybe gotten on the scale with mom or me. Here in Germany she jumped right on and then let the nurse measure her height.

You might think it is her growth in age, but I believe it is more, as the change for Hannah started shortly after we arrived in Germany. In America she went two months in Kindergarden without speaking to another child, or playing on the playground. Like I said, she fought tooth and nail at doctor's offices and other places.

I'll recount todays episode as closely as I can recall and translate. The nurse introduced herself to all of the children by playfully trying to figure out which names belonged to which kid. She then said, wow those are some nice dress boots you are wearing Hannah (they are 2 days old by the way and Hannah was wearing a dress to be able to wear the new dress boots). Then she said, you've never been here before Hannah, so we want to weigh you and see how tall you are, so we know these things about you. Take off your jacket and those nice boots and jump on the scale.

At this point I was waiting for a scream, a cower, a flinch, or a something from Hannah. Instead, she took off her jacket and boots and jumped onto the scale. I stayed quiet.

The nurse called out the weight (something in kilos, which I can't recall now) and was excited about it. She then said the following about the height measurement. O.K., now you need to stand against this wall, right where the tree is. That's right, feet all the way against the wall. And make your head tall and straight. That's good. Alrighty Hannah, you are 116 centimeters tall (at least I think it was 116 centimeters).

Regarding my 1st Mr. Mom day, I was kind of keeping score in my head throughout the day. You know, how would a mom have handled the various situations I encountered throughout the day. I think I ended up at about a C+, maybe a B- (if I get extra credit for the two trips to see mom in the hospital). Not bad, for a first day, but definitely should have written down such facts. Tamara knows the weight, time of birth, length, names of various nurses in the delivery room, what I ate for lunch that day, etc., about all of our children's births. I can't remember their names from day to day. Would definitely need a notebook for day two or the next doctor's visit. Tamara also knows such facts about other events in the children's lives, so I've got room for improvement and that's not bad.

By the way, I have watched our children without Tamara before. Just never on a weekday, or only very rarely on a weekday, so this was a new and exciting experience for me. I had a lot of fun.

Well, back to Hannah. Then the doctor came in, also introduced herself to all the children, and then asked to listen to Hannah's chest. Lift up your shirt, all the way up, that's good, very nice. I again waited for Hannah to cower, squirm, jump back, cry, etc. Nothing. She just lifted up her shirt and let the doctor do listen to Hannah breath. I was very amazed.

I do think it is partially a German thing for Hannah, that has transformed her, or allowed her to transform. I think the German's handle pressure situations very well and maintain a calm and tranquility when times are tough that I did not always experience from Americans (including myself). Having a child say no I don't want to get on the scale, could cause stress, and so the German nurse was very excited for Hannah. I have sensed the stress from nurses in America when Hannah did not want to participate. The Germans seem to say, kids generally don't want to do this, so I have to make them feel at ease and valuable (they speak more directly with the child than with the parent I think), and then ask directly for what I need from the child.

Over the last year I have watched the Germans in situations in business and in conducting church meetings since being back and been amazed, time and time again, with their calmness and sense of purpose in times of nervousness and potential stress. Often this calmness and even distance from emotion is perceived negatively by Americans. But it has impressed me. It is one characteristic that I am trying to understand and model as I believe it will benefit me. You can sense that I don't fully understand it, as I have difficulty describing it.

Wow, do moms have a lot to write about. I'm only at about 10:00 a.m. and haven't written about our visit to Tamara in the hospital (with 3 kids), how Emma wanted mommy to come home and cried as we left the hospital, our trip to Aldi, the kids coming home, our 2nd visit to Tamara in the hospital (this time with all 5 kids and a toothbrush for Tamara), how Emma again wanted mommy to come home and cried as we left the hospital, and of course dinner, and bedtime.

I do have to share one thing about bedtime. That is, what Spencer told me when I asked him to put on pajamas. Spencer often wears clothes to bed. Usually the clothes he will wear the next day, so he just has to wake up, and walk out the door. But the clothes he was wearing were so soiled and dirty that I couldn't help but ask about possible options for bed and subsequently for the next school day.

Spencer responded by saying, these are my only long pants and so I have no choice but to wear them to bed, and then tomorrow to school.

I found some long pants and shirts in his winter clothes bucket upstairs. I hope they fit.


Lynn said...

Well, good luck to you! I hope Tamara feels better very soon!

Briteeyes said...

WOW Gardner, you have definitely earned a b-. Did you ever hear what is wrong with Tammi? Glad to hear the kids are adjusting well!! Way to go!! Well done!! Keep up the good work!!! (that is my german blood coming out in me keeping me up beat and positive!)***GRIN***

Gardner said...

Thank you for all of the support. Tamara is back from the bladder infection and doing well. Gratefully it was not worse!

March 2007