Head colds have come and gone the past week. Chris traveled to Connecticut and made it home on his scheduled flight, despite the east coast winter storms. I found a lump in my breast, had a mammogram and an ultrasound and all is well. I'm thankful for nuggets of fat.
Before Chris left town [because everything falls apart after his departure], he called me as he was driving the boys home from school.
"Middle Boy doesn't feel well. You'll have questions, so just talk to him."
Chris handed Middle Boy the phone. In between congested deep sniffs and a lisp I can't recreate, I could tell he was trying to hide that he was crying. He was difficult to understand, but I heard that his ear hurt... and something about his tongue on a pole.
"What? Did you stick your tongue to a pole?" Temperatures were well below freezing that day.
"Uh-huh," he cried.
It was like ordering Chinese food over the telephone, but eventually I got that another boy was successful removing his tongue from a frozen pole at recess so Middle Boy tried the same trick. I asked if someone dared him to do it or if someone yanked his head off the pole, suspicious that he might have been bullied into the situation. Nope. He made both the entry and exit decisions on his own.
Middle Boy described how his tongue skin was still on the pole, and how he couldn't eat his lunch because... there was mustard on his sandwich, and oh his ear... it hurt so badly. It had been a terrible day. Would I please call the doctor? Of course.
He went to the doctor that evening, had an ear infection and a bum tongue. Antibiotics for one, ibuprofen and tepid, bland liquids for the other.
I listened to Middle Boy vent from the backseat of his father's car on the way home from school that day, and responded with mom-speak. Aw. I'm sorry, honey. Shoot. It's okay. You can rest all weekend. I understand.
He was finished. He had purged his troubles for the time being, but still felt lousy.
One of Middle Boy's Christmas presents was a Muppet Whatnot. He was able to create his own Muppet online, and the completed gift had arrived a few hours earlier.
"I know it's been a rough day, but I have some news that might cheer you up. There's a package with your name on it waiting for you."
He sniffed a few times, "Wha?"
"It's your Muppet."