We have omelettes and coffee, and spend close to three hours catching her up on the latest developments in my life; namely, my impending divorce and the new men in my life. Rebecca is an amazing woman. She is the person who will sit down next to you and listen to you talk about your life, prompting you with the perfect questions until she has all the information she could ever want. And you feel like you've just completed an amazing journey of self-discovery.
We finish at a quarter to noon, kiss our goodbyes and I jump into the car to drive to my client. About halfway there my phone rings. Daycare.
"Madeline, it's Beatrice, Jack's teacher."
"He has a bug bite or something on his knee that looks infected. He's been complaining about it and wanted us to put a BandAid on it. It looks pretty red, and I just wondered what you wanted us to do."
"Okay, I'll be right there to get him."
I call my client to reschedule; he has five children and understands completely. When I arrive at the daycare center, Jack is asleep on his cot and fusses when I pick him up. His knee is a little swollen and there is a tiny pinprick, around which a little redness has formed. He refuses to walk on it.
I take him to my mother's office. One of the doctors looks at the knee and says it looks like he's got something embedded in it, like a piece of gravel. My kid falls so much these days, it could be anything... The doctor suggests warm compresses and plenty of baths to help draw out whatever is causing the infection. She calls in a prescription for antibiotics in case it gets worse.
I take Jack with me to run my last minute errands before Marcus arrives. I have a shitload to do, and now a toddler to care for and entertain. My mother is keeping the kids overnight and through the weekend. I do my best to fold laundry and vacuum, while giving Tylenol and holding warm washcloths to Jack's knee. I pack the weekend bag for the boys to take to my parents' house.
At 5:00 I get Miles from preschool, drive the kids to my mom's office and load them into her car.
Jack gets another long bath and more compresses that night. He is walking on his leg much better the following day. When my mother picks him up from daycare, though, it has gotten worse, and he doesn't want anyone to touch it. We consult with the doctor and start the antibiotics.
I should say that I was with Marcus during the bulk of the weekend. The fact is that my mother is a nurse, and a mother of five. She is eminently capable of handling situations like this, and I trust her judgement. We were in contact the entire weekend about Jack.
We give the antibiotics 36 hours to work, and on Sunday morning, seeing no improvement, consult with my friend Helen, who is a Physician's Assistant. My mother meets us at Helen's house; Marcus and I walk in, and I introduce him to Helen's girlfriend, Susan.
Then I introduce him to Helen.
Then my mother.
My youngest son.
"Huwhoa, Mahcus," Jack flirts.
They are fast friends.
This was not supposed to happen this weekend, and certainly not in this fashion. Even before my weekend Rules were imposed by Jefferson, Marcus and I had discussed the issue of him meeting my kids. While they know that we speak by telephone, and he would love to meet them, neither one of us wanted to enter the realm of preschool questioning: "Are you and Marcus in LOVE? Are you going to get MARRIED?"
And I certainly was not planning to introduce him to my parents, who know that I am seeing both Marcus and Jefferson: "Oh, and what's happening with your fuck buddy Thomas, Maddie??"
Whatever. Plans change. Life takes care of that. And Marcus is excellent in crisis mode.
We take Jack to the ER, as Helen was concerned that the knee joint could be septic and need surgery to drain it, and at the very least, a nasty staph infection which would require serious antibiotics.
As nurses and techs poke and prod little Jack, drawing vials of blood, swabbing the pustule on his knee for a culture and starting an IV line, he is calm and sweet, lying on the gurney and looking around. My mother, Marcus and I are the only ones at the hospital. Then, when I take Jack for X-rays and an ultrasound of his knee, Marcus is alone with my mom.
He says they were having a nice conversation. Then my father showed up.
I have known my father for 33 years. He is smart and funny and sarcastic, and I still have a very hard time talking to him. Poor Marcus was like a suicidal Christian thrown to apathetic lions. He kept trying to engage my dad in conversation, to no avail. The man simply does not talk. Especially in unfamiliar settings like hospitals. Mom came to Marcus's rescue and suggested he go see what was keeping us in Radiology.
Eventually we all return to the ER, and the orthopedic surgeon (another pal of mine) examines Jack and concludes that there is nothing wrong with the joint, but he wants to admit him and give him antibiotics intravenously.
My father leaves to return home, and my mother offers to stay until the evening so Marcus and I can have a few more hours to spend together. We leave Jack in her arms, promising to return with chocolate.