just in case you’ve been thinking, like i have been, that you need a weekend away from the same old vistas or you’re going to tear your own eyes out from the eternal hamster-wheelness of it all, and you’re burning to hit the road and see leaves and visit cousins and meet blog friends in the flesh and drink Belgian beers and possibly even shop where they stock clothes for women under sixty yet years-past-ingenue-enough for the inventory at Le Chateau, well, i have a recommendation for you.

(this is good advice…wisdom i’ve been repeatedly if unwillingly collecting over the past number of months. learn from my mistakes, oh ye who crave a pinch of novelty and have been pining for your getaway.)

do not, i repeat not, be tricked into trading in your weekend away for what may appear at first to be a reasonable facsimile. oh no. do not fall for this terrible bait and switch that i have, alas, been prey to. yet again.

a trip to the hospital does not a vacation hankering satisfy, friends.

contrary to beliefs you may have held dear, the mere fact that a destination is not your workplace or your house does not automatically make it a gay old time.

just because exam rooms in hospitals are like the House of Possible Horrors for parents meant to contain their very small children in there where everything at a small person’s eye level is sharp, metal, tippy, and contains moving parts – and the damn door can’t be shut to keep said small people from running out into the hallway and colliding with gurneys, lab carts, and other patients. all. the. time – that does not mean that they are worth the price of admission.  even if admission is paid for by your tax dollars at work.

just because you too are feeling a little under the weather does not mean you will be offered any soothing medications, as you are merely there – in the eyes of the institution – as a herder for the small patient you have brought them.

and just because it’s bread pudding day in the cafeteria won’t make up for the Belgian beer, you know. but you should have two bowls of pudding anyway.

ultimately, just because today is the 18 month anniversary of the night you waddled – at ten minutes to midnight, and about half an hour later than was really wise – to the door of the local hospital to drop your young labour your unhealthy if beloved offspring into the world, it does not mean that you are therefore actually obliged to return to said hospital today for a sentimental visit. in fact, it will not actually occur to you, in the haze that marks pre-dawn darkness in your caffeine- and sleep-deprived brain, that this is the anniversary of that auspicious evening.

no, what will occur to you as you sit for hours in a small room with a one-day-short-of-eighteen-month-old with breathing difficulties but a nonetheless highly energetic disposition is rather as follows (sung to the tune of The Gambler in very cheery and i’m-really-not-a-sulky-mommy-who-just-wanted-one-weekend-away-as-a-family-without-plague tones…with apologies to Kenny Rogers and any of the poor hospital staff who may have had to endure my caterwauling):

on a warm autumn morning
in a family bound for nowhere
(at least this weekend) –
the backup singers kinda add that effect, you really have to hear it in my head to fully appreciate it
i hung out with an Oscar
we were both too tired to sleep

so we took turns a coughin’ and a weepin’ wheezin’ in the darkness
’til boredom overtook him

and he began to speak.

he said “mama babbee dada
bab buh doh nana muk
ga vvvooo aaa! mamama
wah wah wah wah”**

it kind of went on like that for a bit, delineating all of Oscar’s increasingly impressive if still not very enunciatory vocabulary, until we got to the rousing chorus:

you gotta know when to go in
yeh, know when to throw in
give up your holiday

because you done got sick
you gotta hang out in the hospital
and then go home feeling pitiful
yes indeed this is your weekend
and it surely does suck…erm…donkeys.

yes, David Bowie will be calling me for lyrics any day now. i got skillz. that more than comforts me as i face yet another wild Saturday evening in Charlottetown, sick, with my poor little Herr Cough Cough.

at least the vacation was free, bread pudding aside. thank you jeebus, for Medicare.

in all seriousness…do any of you out there have little ones who’ve been diagnosed with asthma? this hasn’t happened for Oscar yet, but as every single time he gets a cold he ends up having to be brought to the hospital for masks (the home Ventalin wasn’t cutting it this morning, though we do have two puffer souvenirs from our exciting hospital visits on previous non-cancelled vacations) and as during the four weeks between hospital visits this last stretch he never really managed to shake his cough at all, the doctors are suggesting we may be heading in that direction. what did the road to asthma look like, for you? what kinds of minimization strategies have you been given, if any? any thoughts about taking him to a naturopath or someone on that end of the medical spectrum to at least try to find out why his immune system’s been so vulnerable of late? advice welcome. we’d like to stop seeing O miserable.

…and Dave suggests he’d like to see me stop sulking about my lost vacations.

fat chance, buster. it’s my art.

**translation of the Oscar-speak**
mama baby daddy
ball book door banana milk
car blue cat! mask more
wah wah wah wah
(yes, “mask” – as in what delivers the Ventalin – is not only one of his first twenty or so words, but i swear to god he asked for more mask while we were playing with it during our rather extended attempts at entertaining ourselves in the exam room.)