The Pediatrician sent us to a Specialist, the Specialist sent us to get x-rays and when it was all said and done they told me my 3 year old daughter had to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.
The Specialist grinned as he told me her glands were so swollen that they had practically occluded her ear canals.
I nodded gravely and waited until we were in the car before I asked my wife what the Hell he was talking about.
The long and short of it was, if we didn't act now my kid might see serious speech and balance issues later on. Besides once the procedure was done we would find ourselves off the bimonthly cycle of ear infections that left my daughter feverish and sharing a bed with my wife while I languished on the futon.
Not that the futon was uncomfortable it’s just that when I was out there our two cats would take turns jumping off me and grooming me. Besides when the kid wasn't sleeping in her room it kind of cut into my opportunity for serious government sanctioned cuddling with my wife.
Then again it was that cuddling that got me into this mess in the first place wasn't it?
I told my superiors at Industrial Illuminati Inc. that I would be taking a week's vacation to care for my daughter. I was sure that I could get some writing done as well, after all how much trouble could a three year old be?
My supervisors approved my vacation request with a kind of barely suppressed glee.
The day of the operation came rushing up on us. We'd done our best to prepare our daughter, we explained to her what was happening and why. I'm not sure what was going though her little mind.
The hospital told us to have her there for check in at 6 AM, which meant that when she got there she was operating on about 2 hours of sleep. By the time my wife daughter and I had gotten shuttled from the Check In desk to the Pre Op Room I had began to get nervous. My rational mind understood that this was one of the best places to have this procedure done but the larger more apprehensive part of my mind didn't want to give up my only child to a group of strangers.
My wife was pretty quiet too, which meant she was worried as well, or she was up to something…
We changed my daughter out of her clothes into a hospital gown. The nurses brought a baby sized hospital gown and cap for her baby doll, which we all thought was very neat.
Then the nurse had us hold my daughter down and so she could squirt Versid up her nose. My daughter didn't think that was very neat at all. She was inconsolable and frightened after that- at least until the drugs kicked in.
There are few things as funny as a stoned three year old - not that I'm advocating such things mind you but it was pretty funny. My daughter spent the next ten minutes giggling uncontrollably and trying to climb out of her hospital bed so she could smother her parents with kisses.
I kept the kid busy while my wife pulled on some hospital scrubs. They allowed one parent to go in with the child while they are put under anesthesia and it was decided my wife would go in with her. Mostly because I tend to go into vapor lock in when there’s a crisis.
When the nurse came back to wheel the little patient into the operating room my daughter kicked her right in the face but she was giggling so sweetly when she did it.
After my wife helped the nurse recover her glass eye they wheeled my daughter into the OR. I went to get some breakfast; my wife wanted me to bring her back a muffin and a coffee. We would meet up in the waiting room.
I didn't have any cash on me so I started to look for an ATM machine only to discover that this hospital did not have an ATM machine but that there was an ATM machine at the gas station down the block.
It took me about thirty minutes to get across there, remember my pin number, get back again and then find the hospital's well-hidden cafeteria.
When I got back to the waiting room there was no sign of my wife, so I waited.
Before the vapor lock could completely set in I asked around and found out that it had taken the doctors about fifteen minutes to complete the procedure and my daughter and wife were already in the recovery room.
Within the next six hours or so my daughter went from being groggy and weepy, to active and cranky, to trying to eat her body weight in ice cream. Apparently a tonsillectomy is now outpatient surgery so by the late afternoon they were getting ready to check us out and show us the door.
Now when I had my tonsils out in the dark days of the 1970s I was stuck in the hospital for a week. I don't know weather to curse the HMOs or praise the lasers.
We were home by that evening and my wife had a surprise waiting for us. A kitten, a fluffy orange kitten so small you could fit it into a shoebox and still have room for three or four Doctor Who DVDs.
Hmm that reminds me, I must buy more Doctor Who DVDs.
I wasn’t very happy about the idea of a third cat, not when I had just gotten rid of our nipple-biting lovebird, not when I thought I someday see a day free of feeding animals and cleaning their poop.
I asked calmly "Why did you get her a cat?"
"She just had her tonsils out.” My wife explained, “Have a heart."
"When I got my tonsils out I got a GI Joe with Kung-Fu grip."
My wife nodded patiently, she was a scarred survivor of many discussions like this, "Well they don't make those any more do they?"
"That's not the point.” I said, “The point is we have two cats already, the fat one and the stupid one."
"Well I couldn't just leave this poor kitten in the woods behind work could I?"
"Yes, you could have. It would have been easy."
“Oh lighten up." The standard spousal eye roll kicked in.
But I would not be denied my chance to rant, "This is a wild animal! He could be swimming in disease."
"I've seen your relatives. I'm more worried about the kitten. Besides you're a hypochondriac."
"When a man gets Pink Eye from a lapdance it brings his sense of mortality crashing down around him."
Of course that was when my daughter noticed our fluffy new guest, "Kitty's so cute!!!!! Can we keep him?"
“I don’t know.” My wife said, “Let's see what Daddy thinks."
I crossed my arms and said with a kind of resignation, "For how long after this operation is my daughter going to sound like Tom Waits?"
We introduced the kitten to the other cats, Cornelius (The fat one- so fat that we had to upgrade the litter box.) and Fredrick (The stupid one- so stupid that his tail caught fire once and he never noticed, he just glared at us for throwing water on him.) We let my daughter name the new arrival and she decided to call him 'Punkin' which was sweet but it really kind of wrecked the whole cats with people names aesthetic I was going for.
The first night was easy. My daughter was exhausted and she didn't even protest when we put her to bed in her own room. Not that she stayed there however, by 11 PM she was crying for her mother so it was back to the futon for me.
Well, it would have been back to the futon if the kitten hadn't been perched there, his eyes wild, his back arched. He hissed at anything that came near him. The fat cat was too busy eating insulation out of the walls to notice. The stupid cat had no time for Punkin, he was locked into a staring contest with the other cat in the bathroom mirror, as he had been for days.
So I grabbed a blanket and crawled under the kitchen table to get some sleep.
I was awakened in the morning by the sound of my wife bottle feeding the kitten.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
My wife explained, "It looks like this kitten was younger than we thought. He needs to be bottle fed for a few days."
"This is turning into a nightmare."
"It's not a big deal. I'm doing all the work anyway. The real hard part will come when it's time to make him go poopie."
An alarm went off in my head, "Wha?"
My wife said, "If Punkin is as young as I think he is I'm going to have to manually stimulate him so he'll move his bowels."
"The irony here is that you won't even have sex with the lights on."
"The irony here is that you know remarks like that keep you from getting sex more often but you can't stop making them."
I don’t think I could have loved her more than I did at that moment.
Now it might seem to your untrained eye that my Missus and I were fighting but nothing could be further from the truth. You see in the ten years we'd been together we've learned that there is more to a marriage than communication, sex and food preparation- marriage is about having someone you can rely on to pop those hard to reach zits on the small of your back.
My banter with my wife was interrupted by the sound of my daughter screaming. The Tylenol had worn off and her body was starting to react to having parts of the inside of her throat burned away. We quickly drugged her again but the medicine made her alternately sleepy and hyperactive.
We did our best to keep her busy. We played boardgames most of the morning and let me tell you when you loose 3 games of CANDYLAND in a row the road to Queen Frostine's castle becomes every bit hopeless as White Wolf's 'World of Darkness'.
My daughter spent most of the afternoon playing with the kitten and watching TV. For some reason she had no interest in her usual fare, no DRAGON TALES or DORA THE EXPLORER or LITTLE BEAR. Heck she wasn't even in the mood for DOCTOR WHO, all she wanted to watch was my backlog of TIVOed episodes of the SUPERFRIENDS, BATMAN ADVENTURES and TEEN TITANS cartoons.
She had developed a fascination for Robin, I blame the TITANS' cartoon, the cartoon that transformed the boy wonder from a simp voiced by Casey Kasem into a badass in short pants. As we watched the SUPERFRIENDS I answered her questions about who all the different Super Heroes were.
I would say things like "That's the Flash he runs really really fast."
And then she would ask, "Who's that?"
And I would say, "That's Hawkman, he can fly and no matter how cold it is he never has to wear a shirt."
And then she would ask, “Who's that?"
And I would explain, “That's El Dorado. He sucks ass."
Unfortunately that last remark got back to my wife. She demanded to know what I had said to our little girl.
“Nothing.” I explained, “Just Daddy daughter stuff.”
Then my daughter said to her new kitten, "El Dorado sucks ass!"
My wife scolded me, "Now look what you did!"
I tried to help her make sense of this, “Honey El Dorado has Hologram Vision! What kind of a lame power is Hologram Vision?"
“You need to watch you language. Little pitchers have big ears."
"What? What does that mean? Are you talking in code?"
"El Dorado sucks ass!" my daughter said to make sure her kitten knew it by heart.
My wife’s voice was slowly becoming murderous, "I am not talking in code, everyone knows what that means."
“Well I don’t.” I said, “Are we going to talk in code all day? The wind is the buffalo, the fat man walks alone."
"Actually the fat man sleeps alone now bucko."
My daughter laughed with delight, "Bucko!"
As the day drew to a close my daughter started to develop quite the fever and to add a little color to the day she threw up on the parlor rug right near the end table. Our obese cat Cornelius was really upset about that, he'd been saving that spot for himself to throw up on.
Needless to say I didn't get to sleep in my bed that night either.
As the week wore on my daughter's fever retreated and her voice came back, the kitten started eating and pooping on his own. The fourth day my daughter went to sleep in her own bed and once we were sure she was asleep my wife lit some candles and we made love like lazy shoggoths.
My daughter continued to binge on SUPERFRIENDS and we continued to heckle El Dorado and to a lesser extent those lameass Wonder Twins. Her Robin mania was so strong that we even watched the film BATMAN AND ROBIN, a film I have stayed far away from. Oddly enough for all its flaws it is a fun movie to watch with an enthusiastic three year old. Maybe that's what the director was trying to do with this film-create a movie that would appeal to Leather Fetishists, Toddlers and Michael Gough Fans.
That Joel Shumacher, always building bridges.
Five days after the procedure my daughter was well enough to accompany my wife when she went to visit her parents. That gave me the house to myself for the day so I grabbed my old DOCTOR WHO tapes and cued up REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN.
Imagine my surprise when my wife and daughter came home early.
I paused the Doctor calling Harry Sullivan an idiot and asked them, "What happened? Is everything all right? Why are you glaring like that?"
My wife said,” My Dad took us to the classic car show."
"Yeah, I know.” I was relieved not to have had to go, the only time a car had ever held a fascination for me was back in the 80’s and that car had a scantily clad Tawney Kitaen rolling across the hood. “But why are you back early? Was it canceled?”
"My Dad was taking his granddaughter around, showing her all the different makes and models." My wife explained.
I lied, "Sounds like fun."
"It was, until they got to the fully restored 1959 Cadillac El Dorado."
That was when my daughter proudly announced, "El Dorado sucks ass Bucko!"
So it was back to the futon for me.