Assorted pleasures and miseries


We’ve had the flu. Or a really awful cold. Or something in between — the two end up merging somewhere inbetween in a sort of continuum of misery. There’s a temptation to say that it must be a cold because our flu shots didn’t prevent it, but those aren’t perfect either, and there’s the lurking suspicion that apart from the flu vaccines this might have been worse — some of our friends who’ve picked up this lovely ailment have been down for weeks. Beth and I are both headed for around a week each and improving.

Laurel, damn her, was mostly recovered in only two days, only one of which coincided with our own, so we’ve been lousy parents this week. Not to the point that we’re letting her shoot heroin or watch commercial television, but bad enough to make a lot of messes, open and poke her fingers into many more toddler-accessible jars of things, or stream domestic animal footage off YouTube far more than usual — so long as it involved letting Mommy and/or Papa lie quietly on the couch and not move around very much or have to read Charlie Parker to her again.

Considering that she was cooped up in the house for about five days with no breaks longer than trips to the corner store for tissue paper and brief woozy toddles around the flat parts of the neighborhood, she held up well. She’s made some progress conversationally — she manages four-word sentences pretty often (usually missing the prepositions, conjunctions and articles), and can have back-and-forth discussions with several round trips before either she says something indecipherable or gets distracted. That was okay once my sore throat cleared up, though less okay once I started coughing instead, since she doesn’t have the attention span to sit out a lengthy bout of hacking without losing whatever I said beforehand (or more usually, carrying on with whatever she was going to say next.)

With the magic wand

At one point, miserable with congestion, I plugged in the Hitachi Magic Wand and started pressing it into my face to loosen things up in there. This actually works, by the way — not as well as huffing acetone or a suction pipe, but it’s less flammable and more readily obtainable in domestic contexts, and even if the effect only lasts a few minutes the only damage is from the electric bill. Seeing me doing this, however, Laurel wanted to try too. Once she got over the initial tickling, she couldn’t be separated from it — she’d press it to her feet, then drop it and squeal with giggles, then pick it up by the head so it vibrated her hand, then drop it and squeal again, etc. It was like having a fourteen year-old girl all of a sudden, except with all the salient details replaced with cute toddler ones.

Since I recovered enough to take her out for longer ventures, we’ve been on a gradual quest to revive the XO-1 I bought years ago, back before OLPC became a giant mass of politics, corporate sabotage and feasibility issues. That’s had us tramping around in search of a compatible lithium coin cell to run the RTC, without which it can’t boot. Laurel likes batteries — she greatly likes going to the store to buy replacement batteries for her toys, then turning the toy over and helping put new batteries in. Indeed she often wants to do this when it’s not needed, and gets quite excited when she finds a loose cell lying around that she feels should be put into something. The word itself is usually enough to thrill her. Less immediately thrilling has been trying to actually find the proper battery. The distinction between an ML1220 and MR1237 lithium cell seems about as subtle to her as it does to the benightedly undereducated louts staffing your typical drugstore or electronics retailer. The staff at our local hardware stores are a good deal better, but equally devoid of actual stock in the right sort. Not that Laurel’s really going to be ready to use a laptop anyway, even one designed for children, but it’s durable enough to let her try. She gets ahold of Beth’s laptop quite a lot, and happily presses keys, switches windows, adjusts the audio controls, etc. So she may well enjoy the opportunity, unless the relative drop in bling factor between OSX and Sugar doesn’t kill her enthusiasm.

I’m headed back to work tomorrow, virus or not, lest I forget how to go about my career entirely — one more slightly sniffly office worker amongst a whole horde of them, especially the ones with kids. It’ll have to do. They claim that getting sick enough as a kid helps you later on — but with this infection rate, not even having started daycare or preschool, I trust it does something for the parents too, down the line anyway.

– Devin