Monday, July 24, 2006

Two steps forward, one step back

Oliver plays guitar in his Nanny's garden

A week ago we were basking in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend up at my Mum's house. We played in the lagoon-sized paddling pool under a hot summer sun, lazed in the hammock, slept in a blanket under the trees and generally soaked up the best a British summer has to offer. Glorious!

Today we are walking around in fog of exhaustion after a weekend dominated by Oliver being ill but also by him showing signs of reverting to his old ways when it comes to sleep: i.e. he doesn't want to unless it's on his terms.

Although those two facts must appear to be obviously related, there have been earlier signs of him refusing to sleep recently and I'm pretty sure he is demonstrating his will to be in charge. In the interests of our sanity, health and family-wide well-being, we are resisiting his attempt to set the agenda.

In many ways I love the confidence he is finding now. He is into everything and wants everything we have that he hasn't. My two current nicknames for him are "Tommy Tearaway" and "Henry Hooligan". If he can't put something in his mouth he will gladly bash it for a few minutes. Kitchen rolls are strewn across the room in seconds. Magazines are retrieved from the coffee table and torn up at his leisure. The bookcase contains so many books he is dying to get down from the shelves: Will Hutton's "The State We're In" seems a particular favourite at the moment. (Good luck to him. I never finished it.)

His water cup is cast to the floor from his highchair at every opportunity, sometimes causing its entire contents to flood the floor. He knows we don't like him doing this so he waits his moment then throws it as quickly as possible before looking at us to see the reaction. At other times he will dangle it over the side of his high chair ever so slowly before letting go despite our warnings. When he does this it takes all my effort to keep a straight face. I know I must, otherwise he will have found an even better game!

The little man has been less playful much of this weekend though. He had a temperature of up to 102.7 Farenheit from Friday evening until Sunday morning. His sleep was disrupted and we gave him Calpol, Calgel and Baby Nurofen at different times in an attempt to ease his distress which we suspected might be exascerbated by teething.

On Sunday we noticed he had spots in varying degrees all over his body. We rang a medical helpline and took him to a walk-in clinic where we were told that the cause was a viral infection: a relief, as measles and even meningitis had occured to us.

Last night, despite being in much better spirits and having had no temperature all day, he cried when he went to bed in a way that we have rarely seen since the bad old days when bedtime was a daily hell (for us as well as him). And this morning he cried at 5.30am until Hayley went in. He appeared to settle while she was here but immediately screamed the house down when she left the room. Sadly it looks like we could be in for another stint of controlled crying to overcome this reversion.

I suspect we may have brought it on ourselves to some degree. If in doubt about his health, we have brought him into our room to sleep in the late morning (ie 5.30am onwards). Often his crying stops the moment he is allowed to join us: not exactly an indication of serious illness or persistent teething pain.

I really thought we were past all that. I should have known better. It's a healthy reminder not to say to myself "we've cracked it!". I hate to see him cry and controlled crying is not the way we wanted to go. But I am resigned to it as a means to the best end. Watching TV at the moment I see that China's first leader to throw aside a planned economy in favour of the free market was fond of explaining his decision with a Sezchuan saying: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice". Sadly, I guess that sums it up for me.