My little three year old is sick. Ear infection. Bad one. So bad in fact, that her little eardrum burst this afternoon and lots of yellow-green gunk oozed out of her ear. I was horrified, much like the first time she threw up or pooped in the bath tub. More than horrifed though, I was frightened. As I carefully swabbed her ear and cleaned her up with a warm washcloth I wondered if she'd permanently lost hearing in that ear. From what I understand now, it'll heal up in a few weeks on its own, probably speedily since I followed up the swabbing and cleaning with some antibiotic ear drops left over from her last ear infection. She was sweet and whiny through the whole process and after it was over she quickly fell asleep on her daddy's chest. It was an oh my gosh type of parent moment.
When I and my cousins were in our pre-teen years, we'd gather over at my grandmother's house during the summer to play together. Since her house was smack dab in the middle of Georgia nowhere we were constantly grasping for things to do. One of our few sources of entertainment, besides each other's constant giggling, was to walk down to the creek at the bottom of the hill and throw Trouble in. Trouble was the sweetest most energetic Boston Terrier I've ever known. My grandmother had a thing for Boston Terriers. There were two that I can vaguely remember from my very early childhood, but Trouble was the third. Trouble followed us everywhere we went, whether it was a long walk through the thick woods or just down the road a mile or two. He was protecting us I suppose, or just bored himself. The bridge was probably about fifteen feet above the water and as we all walked around staring down at it, wondering what it would be like to jump off into the creek ourselves, someone would always say "Hey, let's throw Trouble in" and within seconds you'd hear the splash. All eyes drooped over the bridge to see if he came back up and when he did we'd all breathe a sigh of relief. Once in a while one or the other of us would get a conscious and tell the guilty one that he or she was just plain mean. But most of the time we laughed out loud and then drew our breaths until we saw his little black and white head bob up to the surface and he swam to the creekside. He'd always pull himself out of the water, shake himself free of most of the water, and climb the hill back to the road's edge to be with us again. But he wouldn't let us catch him again! When Trouble grew wise to our shenanigans we'd have to lure him over to the edge and just push him off with our feet real quick before he knew what was about to happen. As he grew older, we did too, and even if we could have pushed him in we wouldn't have, because he was sweet old Trouble. I'll never forget how he used to chase empty milk jugs around the yard when there was no one to play with but himself. He was a great dog.
During this same period of time when I was young, if I ever had an ache or a pain and mentioned it to my grandmother she'd always say "Aww Honey it's just the mean-ness coming out of you!" I wonder if she had that in the right order. Tonight when my little Sarah rose from her nap, after the Motrin had kicked in and her ear didn't hurt anymore -- while I was on the phone with my aunt and while Hal was quietly looking over our taxes, she took a black Sharpie marker and walked all the way from her room upstairs to the living room coloring the walls and everything else in her path with a nice fat black line. I think what I'll say to Sarah as she tromps through her childhood is "Aww Honey, it's just the mean-ness coming out IN you!"