My son woke up crying the other night. He’d crawled into our bed around midnight and tossed and turned for a good half an hour before waking up hysterical.
“What’s wrong,” I asked him? “Is it your legs?”
I had growing pains in my legs when I was little, which I’m still angry about. After all those painful nights, I never did grow very tall.
It wasn’t his legs.
“Is it your belly?”
“No!” he sobbed. “Go away!”
My husband and I looked at each other, both a little perplexed.
“Is he even awake?” we wondered.
“What hurts, buddy? We just want to help it to feel better,” I said.
“My feet!” he sobbed.
My spouse and I both grabbed a foot and used the iPhone flashlight to examine his feet. There were no obvious cuts, scrapes, bruises, or injuries.
“Don’t touch them!” he cried. “Take me to the doctor!”
We asked him what the doctor would do and he said give him a cast. Surely my child had been dreaming about hurting his foot and was confusing that with reality? I am still only a month post foot surgery. Maybe that was in his subconscious?
I asked him which foot hurt. He pointed to his left.
“OK,” I said. “Let’s get up and go to the bathroom then we’ll talk more about the doctor.”
I figured if he walked to the toilet, I’d know his foot was fine but he wouldn’t walk! I carried him. As soon as I set him on the floor he wouldn’t stand on his right foot. Wasn’t it the left that hurt?
After yet another round of questions — the kind the doctor would ask, we assured him — we deduced that perhaps a snack would make him feel better.
On his way downstairs to get one, my husband told us, partially in jest because it was so late, that there was still a ballgame on.
Any port in a storm, I thought. We’re used to dealing with croup overnight in my house and the one thing that seems to help sick kids is distraction. So, I turned on the MLB app to find the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 17th inning.
The tears stopped, the kid ate his fruit snacks and the three of us watched the bottom of the 17th together in bed, huddled around my iPhone.
“Which one of you likes baseball more?” he asked us. We said we both love it.
“Well,” he told us. “Whichever one of you likes baseball more can stay but could the other one of you go downstairs and get me a healthy snack? Maybe an apple?”
Had he forgotten it was inching closer to 1:30 a.m. and his mother had to be up for work at 5:30? And what about that foot?
Dad went back down to fetch the fruit.
Our son ate the entire apple, all while sitting in my lap and talking with us about the intricacies of baseball, and how rare it was to be watching a then-18-inning ball game.
The phantom foot pain was long gone. The urge to rush to the hospital was gone. They were replaced with curiosity about the game of baseball and the info-graphics on the screen.
The clock ticked on. The game wore on. The snuggling continued. It was parenthood in the trenches and we were getting through it together.
“Maybe when you’re done that apple you could have a lay down and go back to sleep?” I offered.
“I was thinking that too, Mom,” he said.
Score! Well, score for me. It seemed like pulling teeth to get either the Cardinals or the D-Backs to cross home plate. We were all ready to go back to sleep but by then we were invested in a game that an hour before we didn’t even know was happening.
Eventually, in the bottom of the 19th inning, Arizona got the run they needed to lift them over St. Louis. The phone went away, the boy snuggled in and fell right to sleep.
That same phone nearly went flying into the wall three and a half hours later when its alarm went off. Even so, I got out of bed smiling.