It was about a year ago that Philip, then me and finally Peter had a stomach flu. We hadn’t/couldn’t teach Philip to throw up in the toilet or a bucket, so we cleaned up a lot of vomit. And last March when the weather wasn’t nearly as nice, we couldn’t open up the windows and the house did not smell good at all. I had just given my two weeks’ notice at my previous job and ended up “missing” a few of my final days to first help take care of Philip, and then to take care of myself and then to take care of Peter.
Thanks to flu shots all around, neither Peter nor I have been as sick as we were a year ago. Philip, on the other hand, has acquired many more minor colds and the sinus infection he had around Thanksgiving since he has started preschool. And he had another cold starting last week. By Sunday, I was feeling the effects and yesterday, just as Philip was almost fully recovered, Peter got knocked out by the stuffy head, cough and body aches.
In a surprising show of ambition, I was up a little earlier than usual. I had the dog walked, my breakfast prepared and lunch packed by what would be my ordinary wake up time. My preparations were for naught. One look at Peter, and I knew that he felt horrible. I offered to stay home, but he said no. But a few minutes before I left, he asked me to stay. Since Grandma is out-of-town and couldn’t step in, I sent off an email to my boss, put my lunch in the fridge and mentally switched gears for the day.
I decided to make the most of the day off by spending the morning at preschool with Philip. Since I had a similar opportunity last month, I did less observing and more helping.
After the students first get into the classroom, they check in and do a table activity. I read books to the children who finished the activity and didn’t want to do a basket activity.
Next up was circle time. Philip and another little guy in the class are not really wired for sitting still, so Mrs. W, the educational assistant, was taking the boys to the motor room. On her way, she asked, “You’re coming with me, right?” I could see why this was more statement than question. By the time we finished in the motor room, each boy had bumped his head once, each had removed random pieces of equipment off the shelves and each gone in the opposite direction desired more times than I could count. Philip and the other child really need an adult with them full-time.
This hands-on time is worth it, however. The staff knows that time on the swing can calm Philip and help him focus when he’s back in the classroom. The other guy is working on upper body strength. Playing on the obstacle course wakes up his body so that he is for ready some of the fine motor demands of later activities in class.
Mrs. W had timed our stay in the motor room so that we were arriving back just as circle time ended. Next up were centers. The students rotate through four centers. Mrs. P sets a timer so that students know when it is time to stop and line up to check the schedule for their next center. During the first rotation, I sat in the reading center again. For the second rotation, I was at the dramatic play area while Philip was at the work station.
For the third station, I was recruited to help that other boy who was in the motor room with Philip while he went to the art center. Philip was also in that center, and I noticed he needed a diaper change, so I volunteered. By the time we returned, it was the fourth and final center rotation. It was Philip’s turn to work with Mrs. K, a former parent who still volunteers in the classroom. She was helping the students create a painting by covering a marble with paint and then putting in on a piece of paper in the bottom of a box. The students moved the box to roll the marble across the paper and leave patterns of paint.
After Philip finished his marble painting, he got to do some finger painting until center time was over. His palms were completely covered in paint, so I escorted him back to the bathroom to wash up. We got back in time to help the rest of the class with clean up and then it was time for music.
After music time, it was time for snack. Today was one of the other student’s “Special Day.” This is the day to celebrate the student who has a birthday in the summer when school is out of session. He had brought in chocolate cupcakes. I was in charge of giving Philip cupcake using his PECS. I was amazed that he actually ate the blue frosting! I was less surprised by the amount of blue frosting that ended up on his shirt and pants by the end of snack.
After snack, it was time to get ready for home. And the weather was just right for going to the playground before dismissal. While we were outside, I had time to really chat with Mrs. P about things that are going well with Philip as well as some of his challenges.
Soon, it was time for Mrs. P to sing the line up song. Buses and parents in cars were arriving. We walked the students back inside to be picked up. Philip had two different girls wanting to sit beside him.
Peter was smoking on the front step when we got back from school. He and Roscoe had been resting while we were gone. I made lunch for the boys. Peter went upstairs to watch a movie in bed.
I was hoping Philip would be ready for a nap, but he wasn’t yet. In fact, he started picking up toys and throwing them. I got clocked in the head with a clock. That’s when I knew it was time to go outside for a while.
I took Philip outside to play in the backyard. By the time we came back in, Philip was finally ready for some milk and a nap. I wasn’t surprised since he had such a full morning. What shocked me was that he took himself upstairs, got in his bed and fell asleep there.
I decided to take advantage of nap time to read a book. I laid in bed and resumed a book I had started about a month ago.
Fifteen pages later, my eyes and the book were shut.
Rejuvenated by our naps, Philip and I were ready for afternoon adventures. I wanted to take advantage of both the time and weather as well as give Peter some peace and quiet at home. The first stop was the library.
Philip led me right to the children’s area. A librarian that we passed on the way said, “There’s a man on a mission.” She was right. We really don’t go to the library that often, but Philip has memorized its layout.
We stayed in the area playing with various toys for over thirty minutes. I was thrilled that Philip helped me picked up the blocks he was using when I told him we were all done. He didn’t cry, and he didn’t throw anything. And he was fairly patient as I picked out DVDs for our patient at home. Nevertheless, I was still grateful to the other patron who, spying Philip pulling on one hand while my other arm held our movies let me go in front of her at the circulation desk.
Next stop was the park.
It seems like when we usually visit the park, we have the place to ourselves. Of course, we’ve gone in much colder temperatures and in the morning. More people are bound to show up in the early evening when it is 80 degrees. While I was glad that Philip would have a chance to be around other kids, I had to worry about him throwing wood chips and running into the path of kids on the swings. But we didn’t stay long. Philip was red in the face after only ten minutes.
After a quick detour to Grandma’s house to pick something up, we returned home. I made supper and then Philip was ready to go back outside. The sun was setting, so the temperature was quite pleasant. Philip added some more layers of dirt to his clothes, hands and knees.
Obviously it was time to get cleaned up. I gave him a leisurely bath, taking time to scrub the dirt from under fingernails and wiping mud from various crevices. After getting dried, diapered and dressed, I took Philip downstairs for our evening routines. He jumped some on his trampoline, crawled through his fabric tunnel and was soon laying on his body pillow on the floor.
Peter got out of bed around midnight. However, when Philip awoke at 1:30 am due to a diaper leak, I came downstairs to the sound of Peter snoring. Peter and Roscoe were the only ones who slept through the night. Philip had a hard time calming down and was up until 5 am. As was I. Good thing I took a nap instead of reading, huh?
As much as I would have liked to stay home again today, it was back to work for me. I’m just now coming up on my one-year anniversary at this job, but I don’t get my full allotment of vacation time until the start of the fiscal year. I have to ration my sick and personal time until July 1. I’ve used up almost all of my leave with all of the appointments we’ve had for Philip over the last year. Peter wasn’t fully recovered after one day off, but we both knew it was going to have to be good enough.