In retrospect, I think perhaps we underestimated the effect such a huge trip would have on such a small man. I was all, “Eh, let’s pop over to the other side of the world,” but Finn was quite unsettled for the first week. Even now, although his sleep patterns have adjusted to the time-difference, his digestive system hasn’t.
It’s been difficult to tell what is jet-lag, social fatigue, or teething. When we were in Auckland everyone seemed to think his teeth were coming in. I always said, “Well, if you say so,” because, after all, what would I know? I mean, I haven’t a clue. I feel relatively confident I’d be able to tell if one of my child’s limbs fell off, but anything else? Not so much.
Then again, teething seems to serve as the generic explanation any time the child squawks. ‘Oh look, he’s chewing his fist.’ But he’s done that since he was born; in fact, we have an ultrasound image of Finn gnawing his arm in utero. ‘See how much he’s dribbling.’ Well, it looks like low standard deviation from normal distribution of drool to me.
I’m pretty sure I could turn up with at Casualty with a penknife stuck in Finn’s head and a nurse will say, “Aw, poor little fella’s teething”.
Shortly after we arrived, Finn cried for two days. Nothing appeased him except gnashing on my finger for short periods of time. He had livid red cheeks, the consistency of his back end production changed and he developed extensive nappy rash.
Altogether I felt confident about asserting: now THAT was teething.
On the first day of this, I’d driven across to Daire and Alex’s place in Cork, and Finn became so distraught we had to return early. A friend of the parents’ had invited herself to stay and was home alone when we arrived back. I was exhausted; Finn woke up crying as soon as I wrestled his capsule in the door; I changed him and went to wash my hands. Finn was screaming by the time I returned and Delia hovered over him, wringing her hands.
“How do you know he’s not in EXCRUCIATING PAIN?” she shrieked.
“Well, now. Because he’s not bleeding out the eyes,” I said through gritted teeth.
“I don’t know much about small people,” she confided.
“Nor big people,” I thought grimly.
I mean, SERIOUSLY.
The following day, I loaded my poor cranky, manky mini man into a stroller (on loan) and took him down town to source some teething toys. I returned with three, along with a tube of Bonjela and some wanky homeopathic teething remedy.
I tend to rank homeopathy in the same general category as eye of newt, but ‘Teetha’ came highly recommended by Friends Who Know Better.
I thought it easiest to pour the sachet of powder into Finn’s gob when he opened it to take a roar; unfortunately, as Finn drew breath for maximum volume, he inhaled the powder into his windpipe and frothed at the mouth. So perhaps it’s not surprising he’s entirely suspicious of Teetha. He rather likes the taste of Bonjela, but it’s only effective for the few minutes he’s distracted licking it off my finger.
Thankfully my mother finally took charge of the situation and bought Finn a family-size bottle of Calpol.
I’d been resistant to Calpol because I’m a recovering junkie. When Daire was a baby, I used to steal to the medicine cabinet and swig it straight from the bottle (Mum never seemed to notice he was going through gallons of the stuff – or think about locking the medicine cabinet). It’s just as well I thought flyspray was stored in the parents’ drinks cabinet or I might never have achieved the success I enjoy today.
‘Has a pleasant strawberry flavour’ states the bottle, although I always thought it simply tasted of sweet, sweet synthetic pharmaceutical. Finn slurps it pensively from the plastic spoon, while I quiver with the effort of not ripping it out of his mouth and snorting the spoon and contents.
It has the most amazing effect, transforming Finn from a tetchy crankfest to his usual gurning contented self (albeit slightly lopsided) within five minutes. I try not to rely on it, but if the alternative is having the little guy in pain I will hook him up to a Calpol drip.