In Korea staying in the hospital is not nearly as big a deal is it is in The States. For starters, if you have insurance it is surprisingly cheap. At less than $50 per day*, including meals, it's often used as a sort of quarantine. They keep you hooked up to an i.v. so you don't dehydrate, take your temperature regularly, and the doctor comes to tell you how you are doing on a regular basis. My kids have gone through some version of the flu, an H2-N something. Contagious, messes with the digestion, but not too serious. In an effort to avoid spreading this bug, they've both spent time in the hospital.
Last week Maxine stayed in the hospital for five days, and with Horyon's parents for one more. Horyon stayed at the hospital with her, and I stayed home with Quinten. We were hoping that Quinten wouldn't catch the flu. It didn't work.
This week Quinten stayed in the hospital for five days, and will be coming home tomorrow. Horyon stayed at the hospital with him, and I stayed home with Maxine.
During one of our rare moments together this week I said to Horyon, "Whose turn is it next week, you or me?" She laughed, an even rarer gem these days.
"You can't get sick," she told me, the italics clear in her voice.
"Fine," I said. "You go next." Another laugh, but this one was tinged with exhaustion. It is possible that staying at the hospital where you have easy access to an I.V. is the only thing that has kept her from getting sick.
We were very fortunate in one respect. This week Horyon's school took their spring trip on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. She was originally to have gone with them to Yangsang, about an hour and a half from home via public transit. She would have spent the days out there and come back to spend the nights with Quinten in the hospital if it necessary, but she got permission to skip the trip, so she spent those three days as well as the nights in the hospital with him instead. I suspect that she found it very restful.
It has been interesting observing how my children behave when they have long stretches of sibling-free time. Maxine has definitely adjusted to it better than Quinten did. To her, he is still the interloper. But Quinten was generally quieter without his sister. He was more demanding of my time, of course, but playing with me was much less likely to lead to crying and fighting.
From him, at any rate.
During Quinten's week I helped him with a few projects, mostly encouraging him to keep making. I am still sure that he will be the first kid on the block to have a 3D printer. But in the mean time, he gets so frustrated when he can't get the picture in his mind to manifest in the real world the way he wants it. The most valuable lesson I can teach him is patience, a lesson which is difficult to teach if you struggle with it yourself. The sound of Quinten whining and crying wears down my patience like using a belt sander on a cookie when I am tired. The best way for me to deal with it was to push bedtime earlier. If we start to get ready for bed after he is tired, the whining is inevitable. But if we can do snack, pajamas, and the brushing of the teeth while he still has enough energy, then he can get some bonus playing/making time, and still have time to read some books together before bed.
Maxine and I get along much more easily. We can both spend time reading without getting uncomfortable, and tonight I made a wonderful discovery: she has been learning the recorder since she started at Apple Tree School, and I have heard her play in groups and at home a few times. I was moving some stuff around and found my recorders, a soprano (the one you are probably thinking about) and an alto (a few inches longer, lower, mellower tone). I can't usually resist taking out the alto and playing a bit, so I did. I let Maxine play the soprano. She immediately started playing the Pachelbel Canon. So I joined in playing one of the counterpoints. Well, probably more than one, as I have never studied the piece. We then moved on to a couple of Christmas carols, Amazing Grace, and one or two more. She can hold on to the melody while I play a harmony! We will definitely be making time to do this again. She wants to surprise Horyon and Quinten with a duet, so I will try to get us some practice time before we are all together again.
I am so looking forward to being all together again.
I especially miss Horyon. We talk on the phone from time to time, and even see each other a bit. It's not as bad as last summer, and has been good in a strange way: the last seven months have been relentlessly stressful, and we were both becoming more and more sensitive. Every married couple has times in which they lash out at each other. We know that for a short time we can let loose the dogs of war that have been chained up in our hearts, because the target is the only one who will take the full brunt of the attack and immediately forgive. If not immediately at least by the next morning.
We can take it because we have bound ourselves together. Every time we have ever kissed and made up we added a strand to the bond. Every time we hashed out a disagreement, and came to share the same resolve it tightened and strengthened the bond. Every tough decision we've made, every crisis we've weathered, every tear we've shed together has built up that connection a little more.
At Kwanganli Beach there is a display case with a sample of one of the cables holding up the Kwangan Bridge. It is made up of hundreds of cables, each about the thickness of my pinky finger. Any one of those cables on its own would snap under the weight of the bridge. A bundle of ten or twenty would do little better. But hundreds are practically unbreakable. Even if there is a flaw in one cable, and it snaps, the load is immediately taken up by all the cables around it.
With fifteen years of adding strands to our relationship, we can handle this. God knows we could take more of it if we had to, but just between you and me, I seriously hope that this is not the warm up for a repeat of Job. Because we do need to fix a few broken strands, and it would be nice to get back to adding new ones.
We will be a complete family again tomorrow. I think our first plan is to sleep late Saturday morning.! Wish us luck!
*I'm not absolutely sure of the price, as I don't handle the bills here, but I think this is the price for a double occupancy room.