Rockstar’s temperature is 39.6 degrees Celsius, according to the thermometer at the Triage section of the HK Sanatorium hospital. At home, he’d registered a 38.5. Unacceptable. What if, like a normal human being, I had relied on that reading and not paged his pediatrician on a Sunday afternoon? Obviously however, I am not a normal human being. I am a mummy.
Please take me home. I don’t need that much walking and feeding.
“I’m not calling because of his temperature,” I say. “I’m calling because he’s so different from his normal self. And he seems to be getting steadily worse.” Rockstar is usually so full of beans an hour giving him your full attention in the morning is downright exhausting. This morning I’ve managed to rearrange my jewelry drawer, find a new home for all my hairclips, watch several brainless E! Entertainment programs and down a power breakfast bar, a banana and several cups of Jasmine green tea all while keeping an eye on him groggily lying on my bed with his bum in the air. Had he not been lucid we would have paged sooner, instead of waiting out the morning.
Dr Leo Chan, our regular crusty pediatrician (who is pretty well-known and popular in HK, bar Rockstar) is off on vacation and his new-ish colleague Dr Theresa Wong says she’ll meet us at Sanatorium’s outpatient in 30 minutes. Thank God, since his fever turns out to be significantly higher in the exam room. All the while we’re standing in the waiting room, we can’t help taking inventory of every cough and phlegmy throat clearing around us. Regular microbes are fine, even good for building a hardy immune system, but I draw the line at flu bugs that can kill. If it’s not SARS, it’s Swine Flu or some other Flu waiting to be discovered. This has me in the constant state of Para in the city of Noia.
We stand as far apart from the other sickies as best we can, all the while carrying our own little germ factory because we’ve forgotten to bring his shoes. Rockstar turns out to have a markedly inflamed throat but no other symptoms beyond a refusal to eat or drink anything in the last 6 hours (he’s been half asleep for most of them).
The ruins of our social life.
Dr Wong says it’s fluids or an IV, so when we get home I break out the more varied of our old cocktail serving glasses from Way Back during our DINK (Dual-Income-No-Kids) days. We ask Rockstar if he thinks milk/ soup/ water/ congee can fit into different-shaped glasses. He says no. I blame the drugs.
We rack our brains. Kingston comes up with Mangosteen, our Malaysian Queen of Fruits (Durian being King – as homage to our roots we actively cultivated a real love for these Southeast Asian fruit despite their more exotic (read expensive) status in North Asia, but even without that it’s just good sense to give Rockstar as varied a diet as possible – 20 years ago, there were what, 6 discovered vitamins? Today that figure is more like 20-30. I bet they discover a few more next decade. How do you manufacture a nutrient you haven’t discovered, even in the best processed foods and vitamin supplements labs?)
All hail the Queen. Rockstar sits unmoving on the kitchen counter avidly watching his father peeling the little deep purple fruit, picking out the smaller, seedless segments which he devours (it’s a lot of work and if you get the purple juice on your clothes it stains like no other, hence its mildly forbidden status in our household.) It’s a good 30 minutes of precious eating before he starts bawling.
So then it’s my turn again – except now he just wants to go to sleep – on me. I lie uncomfortably on the sofa with him for a good 2 hours as he sleeps fitfully. At one point, I call our helper over for a second opinion because I think he’s hallucinating. From full-out hollering, he suddenly grabs the tissue I’m using to wipe his face and vigorously cleans his right foot. “It’s dirty, so dirty. Must clean, must clean! Soooo dirtyyyy!” he cries. We can’t see anything on his foot.
Kings and I text each other, discussing our next plan of assault – he on breaks at his basketball game, I from under a sleeping, drooling, sometimes screaming toddler – we are two souls with a singular purpose – Make. Rockstar. Better. (Btw we gave up force-feeding him a few months ago because he was so determined not to do anything he didn’t want to, he struggled ‘til he threw up. As in, Everything. We switched tactics then because forcing him defeated our ultimate purpose: to get him to eat. Hence Operation Make. Rockstar. Eat/Drink.)
I tell my husband Rockstar has been demanding to see Daddy, so when Kings walks in the door, he theatrically goes “Ah, Rockstar, I was hoping you would join me for dinner and a ladybug video after my basketball game.” Big boys after all get together over dinner and youtube clips of bugs regularly, after a good game. I fade into the background, quickly spooning congee, tomato soup, and his meds with a little chocolate milk, before theatrically serving “The Men.” Yes. I know how that looks. The Men usually help themselves. But today The Men have a very important dinner and bug videos.
Kings succeeds in spooning a satisfactory amount of congee into our son, and then we do milk and meds. Videos. Bath toys. Pyjamas. More Fluids. It’s a triple ballet. Rockstar is extremely determined to get his way (ie not eat) but ultimately he has two parents. We’re a team, Kings and I. Two fire dragons. Two type As. When one tires, the other takes over seamlessly in a continuous dance fueled by love, tempering the impatience inherent in our personalities so it doesn’t affect Rockstar (type A parents after all have to remember they are, well, parents) as we tend to our son and unflaggingly cajole him to eat/drink/get well.
Together, we are type As in most areas of our lives (I even wore full tournament pads and headgear around the house when training for the Penang State Taekwondo Championships simply because it got my game on. When black belt training got in the way of practice for my Grade 8 in piano, I chose the (then much) riskier on-the-spot composition subject in place of the (much preferred but requiring more practice) aural music papers. Kings is worse.) Then we thank God for never encountering anything we can’t handle. Even in a child just like us.
This is how we raise our rockstar.
Ps: Yes, I won the tournament in my weight category that year. And got the black belt. And the Grade 8. Scraped thru by the skin of my teeth, having put in barely half the recommended number of practice hours required to pass. But then there were also public exams and the state debate championships that year.