There were subsequent attempts to add warm articles of clothing to his body, to add food and drink, to engage. Each time either Jared or I was ignored. For the past hour, he had been climbing on hay bales at a local farm's end of season party. The sun had set long ago. Dinnertime had passed. A reasonable amount of time since the last potty break had also passed.
As a child I was notorious for not wanted to take bathroom breaks while engaged in outdoor play with my neighborhood friends. I remember once making it to the screen door and peeing in my pants. I did this many times, many more times that I should have, until I truly old enough to know better.
My mother would whisk me into the house, clean me up, and send me back out. I never remember an angry word from her, but I do remember turning back once and seeing my friend lean over to inspect the puddle on the ground. "Carrie would knock at the door, 'Where's Rachel?' she'd ask. I'd say, 'She'll be out soon,'" my mother tells me.
With family history in mind, I watched Beren careen around the hoophouse loaded with hay bales. It was cold. Jared and I were ready to go. Yet, he didn't appear to be having a good time. Jared approached him once more, and Beren refused him rudely.
Beren dashed the other way as I approached and shouted, "Run away! Run away!" He began to exit the hoophouse. I grabbed him, and he kicked furiously. I sensed a stalemate. I pointed him back into the hoophouse. He ran inside.
I regrouped. A few minutes later, I approached again and whispered into his ear, "In five minutes, we are going home." He stared at the banjo player who had begun playing minutes before and said something. "I'm sorry, I can't hear you," I said. "Go home now." "Go home now?" "Yes."
I lifted Beren up, and he was exhausted. I'd 'won' by waiting out my child. I carried him to the porta-potty, and we packed inside. "What's this?" he asked pointing to the pink spiderweb shaped thing in the urinal. "Do you want to pee before me or after me?" I asked. "Later." "Ok, when I'm done, you go." We finished without trouble.
In the dark, we reunited with Jared and walked to the car. Beren shrieked when I put him into the seat. His clothes were filled with hundreds of long and short bits of straw and his skin was scratched and irritated. We changed his pants and the drive home was pleasant, though we noticed his face was puffy.
At home, it was already Beren's bedtime, but we all bathed, warming and soothing our upsets. Jared and Beren continued our bedtime routine - stories in bed. I brought a snack and water. I sat nearby in the living room. After stories, Jared and Beren make one final trip to the bathroom, but this time, Beren loudly protested all the way. He streaked back across the house and into his bed. "I don't have to. I don't want to!"
Jared crawled into our bed. He was exhausted, and not feeling well. I sat on the couch. "I'm ready for Momma," Beren said, which he says when he is done with stories and is ready to nurse to sleep. "I'm ready for you to go pee," I replied. No nursing until the last bathroom trip is our rule. Silence. He had fallen asleep.
I was stunned. We've been gently working on getting to sleep without nursing. And then… there it is.
He snored and slept poorly, nursing a few times through the night.
The following day, we went my parents' house. Beren stay with them, as we tended to our in ground beds that we cultivated for seed collecting. Jared and I slipped out for a pleasant lunch together at the Bridge Cafe in Frenchtown. When we returned. my mother appeared on the front porch, "He's not well," she said.
On the drive home from my parents' house, Beren was exhausted. Despite my attempts at chatter, story time and low key car games, he was miserable. Beren became agitated. "I want to sit in Momma's lap. I want to. I want to!" He gulped air and tears streamed down his cheeks.
Thoughts of a friend's imaginary invention, "the maternity seat" came to mind. I considered pulling him into my lap, he was so forlorn. Jared, tired and still not feeling quite right, had nearly missed an oncoming car in the minutes previous. I decided to let him stay in the seat.
"Do have anything in case he throws up?" Jared asked. I was dazed and thought, I hope that doesn't happen.
"It's stinky. It's stinky in here!" Beren wailed. When I cracked the window, he shouted "No!" I rolled the window up and down, and Jared passed back a eucalyptus hand salve, "Maybe this smell will clear your nose?" Negative.
About 15 minutes later, Beren emptied his belly thrice and again. Once into my hand and his lap, then his shirt. Then into his hood as I held it. Then, onto a pair of Jared's spare pants.
At home, Jared made a simple soup for dinner while Beren and I cuddled… after I changed his clothes. By this time, I was not feeling well either. I'd been denying that I was getting sick, but now I was drooping. We gobbled our soup. Beren had passed what he needed to, whether it was an upset stomach from the illness or from misery or both. Jared hosed off the carseat outside.
"I think I'm going to take a shower. I need to relax," I told Jared. "Good idea," he said.
I stepped into the warm water and pushed Beren's pants, shirt, and carseat pads aside with my foot. "I can't relax with this stuff in here," I thought. I scrubbed the sour vomit from the articles. The last was a cute t-shirt my parents had found in the Outer Banks. A sweet and friendly cartoon of a dog driving a blue car. A lanky piece of bacon stands in front of the vehicle. "I brake for bacon," says the shirt. I noted that Beren's vomit appeared to emanate from the puppy's mouth.
That night, sleep was spotty. I moved from our bed, to Beren's, to the couch. The last move was to be away from my menfolk's guttural buzzsaw snores. In the morning, Jared ribbed me, "Everyone had their moments last night." I had been guilty of sawing in the moonlight, as well.
That brings us to today. I spent the day drinking teas and taking doses of various herbs - elecampane, aralia, boneset, and gargling with echinacea. When I wasn't laying around, I read Beren stories.
Jared headed out alone to do our weekly shopping. Beren and I waved from the front porch. Though it was balmy, I was pleased when Beren opted to go back inside to play trains with me.
The day passed slowly. At bedtime, Beren wasn't interested in stories. He played instead. I climbed into my bed, Beren followed and then climbed out. Jared said goodnight and went to read. Beren played again. "Turn off the lights," he said. When I did, he protested and asked for water.
This is not going well, I thought and then told Jared so. I went to the bathroom to gargle with echinacea again. "What's Momma doin'?" Beren exclaimed as he heard my gurgles. "I'm taking care of myself," I said, looking down at a beaming child. "She's gargling, Beren," Jared added.
"I'm getting back into bed," I said. Beren climbed on top of me. He rolled off, then around, around again. He tucked his hands and knees under his body, and I heard his breathing deepen. Asleep.
Ah, bittersweet. I shuffled into the office, and Jared turned to me with a smile. He saw my crumpled face, and I buried my face into his shoulder and cried. "My little boy doesn't need me," I said. Jared comforted me. We talked about Beren's exponential growth and his changing needs.
A half hour later, he rolled over, crashed into the wall and couldn't get himself back to sleep…without nursing.