Seeing your child hurt or truly afraid will bring any parent to his knees in a matter of seconds which is how my husband Jim happened to promise our five-year-old son he’d build a Haagen Daaz factory in our backyard following this morning’s tonsillectomy.
William huddled beneath his dad’s big arm shaking and whimpering as two impatient nurses in blue scrubs and mushroom-like hairnets pushed a vial of purple liquid towards the shrinking child.
“You can choose to drink the Silly Juice or we’ll have to squirt it up your nose,” said the one wearing too much makeup.
“No! No! No!” wailed William, his giant hazel eyes terrified and wet with tears. “I don’t want to do either!”
William looked imploringly at me then at Jim.
Jim hated these droids as much–maybe more so–than William did, yet his parental duty to ultimately ensure our child could breath normally required he endorse this Silly Juice plan as well as a surgery that would cause significant pain and suffering for upwards of 12 days. Crusted with guilt, Jim was teetering on edge of his own dark delirium.
“Listen, Will, I hear there is a Tonsil Fairy,” Jim whispered hoarsely into William’s hair. “I bet he’ll bring you a Wii game if you drink this up.”
The little brown head swiveled upwards to meet his father’s gaze. William was intimately familiar with the superb power of fairies. Just five days ago, he bared witness to the work of the Tooth Fairy. She had liberally dusted his twin sister’s bedroom carpet with gold glitter before leaving a crisp dollar bill beneath her pillow.
“I’ll take the nose spray,” Will bravely said. The nurses advanced quickly and sprayed the serum up one nostril.
Thirty minutes later, our baby lay sobbing and shivering atop a cot in the recovery room. Jim scooped William up and sat heavily in a nearby rocking chair. Someone tucked a warmed blanket around them as I scoured the room for a box of Kleenex to sop up my own rivulets of hot tears.
“It’s all over now,” Jim cooed over and over as he kissed William’s head.
“Can I see my tonsils?” Will barked through chattering lips.
I scanned the recovery room looking for a jam jar or any type of container that might suffice to hold such bounty.
Luckily, Jim’s cooler head prevailed. “You know, the Tonsil Fairy has already been here to pick them up,” Jim said. “He said he’d swing by our house tonight to leave you a present in exchange. And actually, I was mistaken: There is no Tonsil Fairy–he’s an elf.”
The Tonsil Elf, it turned out, only had availability to do present deliveries at night as he was preoccupied for the rest of the afternoon picking up various prescriptions from Kroger, fast-forwarding the scary scenes in Scooby-Doo videos and sopping up vomited purple Capri Sun from new and as of yet unpaid-for cream wall-to-wall carpet. But I knew in my heart the Tonsil Elf would be back and make good on his promise. After all, he knows where he’s needed most.
Julie Blair is a Dallas-based freelance journalist who has extra-large, fully intact tonsils. She will be going into her own surgery, a c-section, in a matter of days.