A long and tough week

For the past couple of days, I’ve spent most of my waking hours taking care of a sick family. Luckily, my wife Heike was ‘only’ sick for about 36 hours, during which she could barely move. Our baby daughter Lara was a breeze through all this, she loved lying in bed with mommy all day. I’m not sure I ever saw her that happy for that long, uninterrupted. Our boy Rafa was less of a breeze, mostly because he was the sickest of all, pretty much throwing up every day around dinner time. (Makes for great appetite in parents and child)

Because of the pandemic, whenever your kid throws up, you have to keep them at home from the daycare for 48 hours, and you have to get them tested at the local covid test center. Today, being a Monday, we would usually drop Rafa off at daycare, but as he vomited his brains out yesterday, that means he would be accepted there at the earliest on Wednesday. Understandable, and I’m supportive of all the rules in place to keep the kids and staff safe. I also don’t mind having Rafa at home. Or so I thought…

Today was a difficult day from the very start. Waking up was way earlier than I’m comfortable with. I don’t know what’s the deal with Rafa, but I have the feeling he’s waking up earlier by ten minutes every day. You’d think that at 05.30am he’d maybe go back to sleep. Forget it. After a mild breakfast and some playing, it was time for me to go to work. First, he threw a mild tantrum, which involved a prolonged ‘papapapa’ for what felt like ten minutes. When he stopped, I had a short team meeting. That went smooth, and I was only interrupted by him once. Reasonable. Rafa can join any meeting I have. I have no problems with this. It’s the new reality of young academic parents in a pandemic, so best to normalize this, to make our lives somewhat easy.

A reasonable start…

It all went downhill from there. I opened up a word document to start writing my rebuttal for a paper that I think/feel was accepted with very minor revisions, but still needs some tweaking. I started preparing the answers in point-by-point style, as is usual with response to reviewers. I like doing that because by pasting “Answer: … ” after every reviewer’s comment, at least it feels that I have already made the first step, albeit a very simple and easy one. It also gives you a good sense of the amount of work needed. In my case very little.

Okay, still good, not really that downhill yet, but let’s face it, I didn’t ‘really’ do anything constructive either.

From about 10.30am Rafa started getting increasingly annoying, including shouting ‘Nein!’ in disagreement to everything. He was visibly tired. I was trying to work, but honestly, working with that much distraction is tough. I had to step in a few times when Lara was also going crazy. One upset and a calm kid can still be dealt with by one parent, but two is difficult. We had a small and early lunch, so I could try and put Rafa to bed early for his daytime nap. Easier said than done. That was perhaps the worst hour of the day. God, he’s so annoying when he’s tired, but is fighting to keep himself awake.

That was downhill steep. Briefly we had moments of mutual hate. Luckily, we both forget these moments quickly.

So no sleeping. Because that’s a great idea.

I try to work a little more, while Heike plays with the kids. It goes alright, for maybe half an hour. Then an hour of restlessness that is absolutely unstoppable. Well, it’s stoppable by letting him blow off steam outside. So by the end of the afternoon, we bring our two unhappy muppets outside, to make them happy again. He doesn’t want to walk, she doesn’t want to be carried, and most certainly doesn’t want to sleep. But we push through. Rafa indicates he wants to be in his stroller. Victory! He’s asleep in two minutes. Even Lara surrenders. We take a short walk around the area, and for a moment, we’re normal people.

The duration was short. Lara wanted out. And so we returned home. I carried Rafa up, during which he woke up. He was fine with resting on the bed… For a couple of minutes. I worked for a bit. Then the time was past office hours, and Rafa came to sit with me while I finished some emails and close my computer.

We had made it through the day! One more day, and he’d be back in daycare!

By now I recognize the symptoms very well, and I was only just in time to grab a bucket, so I could minimize the damage done by Rafa’s latest eruption.

This is going to be a very long and tough week…

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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