Family life is one big adventure. I mean that in the best sense, of course. Being a dad in today's world combines all the best parts of private investigation, psychoanalysis, archaeology, and medicine. For instance, nothing requires the use of a private investigator like trying to hunt down someone's shoes on Sunday morning. Similar to the 48 hour rule in homicide, if you let the trail get cold, it's that much harder to close the case. Archaeology comes into play because you never know how many layers you may have to excavate before finding your quarry. Dads like to think they use psychoanalysis on their kids, but everyone knows it's really the other way around.
Medicine, though, can get pretty tricky. Certainly, by law we are not allowed to dispense medicine or medical advice beyond the obvious home remedies with which the government currently trusts us. Or, perhaps, they don't. It's hard to tell with the government because they change their minds more frequently than my daughters change clothes in the course of a single afternoon.
In my youthful days, Dad was akin to Dracula. If he was about to draw blood, you just knew it would be painful. Consequently, whenever he would yell, "Get me the tweezers, Willy!" a crowd would form around the unfortunate child to witness their demise. "Willy" was Dad's nickname for Mom, and it usually meant that Dad was up to something. If Dad called for a needle and a match, screams would shortly follow. It was a little like having one of those film noir hacks attempt plastic surgery on you in a dimly-lit back-alley chop shop.
Being a modern, somewhat more sensitive dad, I am happy to say that I have only had to resort to the needle and match surgery a couple of times in my career. Screams followed.
There are some maladies, however, that can make even hardened veterans like myself cringe. The other day was a fine example.
The older Woodyette had complained of a sore ear and a tummy ache the evening before we were supposed to go on a field trip to a museum in the L.A. area. Mommy had me do a warm rice sock (wonderful thing, modern medicine!) to alleviate the soreness, and she was finally able to drift off to sleep. Next morning we had another episode, but she seemed to recover quickly, and we determined to go on our trip.
We had a wonderful time at the museum. There was a brief school group tour, followed by lunch. Then we had a chance to roam on our own. After a couple of exhibits, the Woodyette began to complain of serious pain in both the tummy and the ear. After two or three quick trips to the restroom, we knew our field trip was over. We bundled everyone in the WoodyMobile and made all haste for home.
"Haste," of course, is relative on L.A. freeways, particularly downtown. We crawled at a snail's pace down Interstate 5 while our daughter kept up a running hysteria in the back seat. She was clearly in pain. I knew, immediately, that this could only mean one very nasty ear infection, possibly in both ears. I'd been there before myself. Mrs. Woody really wanted to be back there with her to hold her and comfort her, but this, of course, is both illegal and unsafe. So, we both gritted our teeth all the way down to Orange County and our local Urgent Care office.
It's bad enough having a child suffer for any amount of time when the pain is urgent. Having that child endure over an hour of it is nearly as unbearable for the parents as it is for the sufferer.
Finally, though, we made it to the doctor. A brief examination to verify my own hack diagnosis, a couple of prescriptions later and we were safely home.
The next morning, the Woodyette bounced around the house as if nothing had happened the previous day. "Daddy? When can we go back to the museum?" she's already asking me.
The baby is fine. Mommy and Daddy feel much better now.