Thursday morning was overfull even before it began. We woke up to astonishing heat, and immediately wilted. The Eldest, a happy trotting, jogging walker, went for a walk and decided that he’d been hit with a plague of bugs and I went on a strike from bugs, Mum, he told me, folding his arms decisively. I tried not to sigh and hoped like hell we'd be bugless for a while.
When the Toddles had a severe attack of twoness at lunch (noooo! I not want olives! Nooo! I want one olive for me and one for my bruvver!!), we decided that perhaps the boys could all three stay home and relax, while QG and I reveled in the markets. And off we went.
We explored the Allergy Block, a lovely store full of things my children can actually eat. After wandering around open mouthed, I got down to some serious shopping. It was so marvellous that I had to haul QG out of there. I extracted her, protesting, from deep in the absurdly cheap sales bins (where, incidentally, she found some wonderful sunflower butter. We took that with us, too).
We escaped from downtown Melbourne and raced over to Prahran Market, a favorite of mine. We didn't have time to really luxuriate in the market, to price compare the fragrant custard apples here with the just-as-fragrant ones there, to taste and reshape menus and generally feel delighted with a world that has such markets in such a metropolis. Nope, we had a list, a time limit and off we went. Along the way we did stumble over a couple of stalls with gluten-free deliciousness, one of which says it's a carbon neutral business. If you find yourself in the vicinity of the folks at http://www.theorganicfix.com/, I suggest you inquire. But definitely buy their produce - they did, indeed, have splendid custard apples.
Laden and overheated, QG and I returned to the boys. But I never got a chance to chatter on about our afternoon, to tell the Man about how I felt that QG and I had really relaxed into each other's company that day, how I felt that Melbourne is such an easy city for the gluten-free and allergic. Because it might be, but that day it wasn't - for the Toddles.
While I was gone, the Man tried to get the boys to rest and failed. He then tried feeding them, and offered a summertime snack of grapefruit, lychees and kiwifruit. The boys, fruitbats as always, descended on the fruit so fast that the Man was left with empty plates and rinds. He settled to the job of cleaning up, and offered the tired - if replete - children a DVD.
Shortly afterwards, the Toddles vomited. The Man sighed, and stopped washing dishes to do laundry. Passing the Toddles shortly afterwards, he noticed to his surprise that the child was drooling. What's that all about? he asked, noticing only then that the Toddles' face seemed somehow distorted. The little fellow tried to answer, but his speech was slurred.
Mental puzzle bits snapped into place.
Vomiting = body trying to get rid of an offending food.
Hives = allergic reaction. Hives spreading from face to trunk = allergic reaction worthy of respect.
Distorted face, slurred speech, drool = swelling of face and mouth and possibly tongue.
A + B with dash of C= anaphylaxis, and anaphylaxis at a time when the Man was alone, in a foreign city, with no car and no phone. What now?
First things first, he whacked an EpiPen Jr into the child's leg. The Toddles fought him, and yanked the injector out. Then with the Eldest in one hand, the Toddles in the other hand, and the medical bag in a third hand, I went and banged on doors with I don't know what hand until a neighbor answered. And I called for help.
He got help. And the Toddles was fine. By Thursday night, the Toddles would talk to the Man again, and by Friday afternoon had decided to forgive his father for the Epi.
And the other hero of the hour? The Eldest. With the Toddles furious at his father, and generally furious and recalcitrant (no! I'm NOT going to the doctor! NO! I'm NOT going in a car! No! No buckles! Nonononononono!), the Eldest sat down and made the Toddles a book. He wrote Chapter 1 across the top of one page, and wavy lines (I'm not putting words because I don't know what it's about, Mummy, but he'll tell us when he reads it). Then Chapter 2 on another page, and Chapter 3 on another. And Toddles' Book on the cover.
This is for you, he told his brother. It's your story, and you can tell us what it's about.
The Toddles didn't miss a beat. It's about how much you love me and how much I love you, he informed his older sibling.
Clutching his book, the Toddles happily popped into the car. Half an hour later, he hid behind me when the pediatrician walked in. He emerged only when reminded about the book, and then chattered happily about his book and his brother until he was pronounced a lucky boy, and given lots of antihistiamine.
Melbourne is a great place for food allergies and intolerances. But it helps to know what those are. Failing complete knowledge, a loving older brother does come in handy. Not to mention those expandable, innumerable paternal hands.