Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him!
Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo
Truer words have never been spoken by a Blue Tang fish. At the same time however, I completely empathize with how Marlin was feeling at the moment. I mean, he wants to do is keep his son safe from all of the bad things that he knows (from firsthand experience) the ocean is capable of. And I (and presumably most fathers) totally get that feeling.
It was Sunday morning and we were en route to the doctor’s office. What started out as a low-grade fever on Friday by now evolved into a dangerously high one, followed by shallow rapid breathing. The breathing thing is what the doctor told us to look for, so our concern was peaked. We pulled up and the parking lot was almost completely empty. We arrived before the office officially opened and we were seen almost immediately. The pediatrician arrived and we joked that we had to stop seeing each other like this (the 5 year old had second round of strep last week, the toddler had an ear infection before that, the other had pink eye; both had stomach viruses-all within a 4 month span). He gently looked our son over and decided that the best course of action would be for us to head to the children’s ER for chest X-Rays.
“For precautionary reasons”, he claimed.
His reasoning made sense. But nevertheless, I fidgeted nervously as he broke the news.
At the ER, we were once again seen pretty much right away (side note: if you plan on having an emergency, try to do it on a Sunday morning. The service is amazing). After he was tagged, weighed and given a syringe full of Motrin, we were whisked off to a room where a very pleasant nurse brought in a few toys for the kids and checked all over the baby’s body for any rashes and took his temperature. After all of this was done, the orderlies came in and transported my wife, who had our baby in her lap, to get the X-ray performed via hospital bed. Seeing his little brother get carted off was too much for my 5 year old to bear, and he held me tight and shed tears. I assured him that everything would be okay, and even took out my phone to show him a YouTube video of the X-Ray process to put his mind at ease. But inside, I was probably just as worried as he was.
Not too long after, the orderlies brought my wife and son back in our room. Apparently, he slept through the entire thing. The doctor had confirmed that he had pneumonia. As I watched my baby boy sleep, exhausted and rosy-cheeked in his mother’s arms, I felt a lump materialize in my throat. I’m the poppa bear, his protector. I’m supposed to be the guy who keeps bad things from happening. I felt so helpless sitting there, I couldn’t help but quietly turn inward and beat up on myself for not washing his hand before his meal last week, or forgetting to apply a dollop of hand sanitizer after he wreaked havoc in the playpen the other day. All I wanted to do in that moment was take away his suffering, and I would have traded places with him in a heartbeat if I could.
The kind nurse gave him one more syringe of medicine, gave us a prescription for an antibiotic and answered our questions. We thanked her and the doctor for her time, collected our things and went on about our way.
I’m sure every parent feels that same lump, that sense of helplessness when they witness their child going through something. But just like Marlin, we eventually come to a point we’ve done all that we can, and all we can do is hope that their child is strong enough to weather the storm. My kid is a fighter, so I know at the end of this battle he’ll come out on top.
But that won’t ever stop me from trying. And if either of my kids ever need me, they will never have to question if I'll be in their corner.