I'm going to have to be a bit more picky

I firmly believe that, when you borrow something from someone, you should do all that you can to return that item in the condition it was when you got it. If you have my book, it shouldn't come back all dog-eared and water-stained. I can understand if the spine is a bit more ragged, but the book returned should resemble the book lent.

I think I get this from years of camping at sites that instructed you to 'take only pictures, leave only footprints' and the whole mantra of 'leave it better than you found it.'

So, when I left three children in the capable hands of two grandmothers, a grandfather, a father and a great-grandmother for three days, I assumed I would be returned three children.

Instead, I got two lovely daughters and a small puddle of boy.

At first, he was complaining, 'Dis is not my voice. I would wewwy wike my weal voice back' as he draped himself across my person. He went to bed without protest and I assumed he'd been thoroughly played out over the preceding three days.

Oh, so very wrong.

About one this morning, a small rasping flame burrowed its way under my covers. I keep hearing this choking sound and sitting him over the trashcan only to realize that he was not going to be 'all fwow-uppy'again. This was the best cough he could muster, given how restricted his airways were.

I dig around in the linen closet then the 'cabinet o'kitchen randomness' before finding the nebulizer and Albuterol under the window seat. I about thirty minutes into what should be a fifteen minute breathing treatment, I realize that nothing is coming out.

This equipment hasn't been used in about a year.

The third set of tubing and dragon mask later, he's finally puffing the magic dragon. But there's not improvement in his breathing. Nor does our medicine cabinet contain the much-needed Tylenol and Mucinex (as his fever is 103ºF). I'm up much of the rest of the night, watching him breathe and contemplating waking all three of them up for a middle-of-the-night pharmacy run.

I nod off for a bit, then wake up panicked and checking. His little belly muscles are having to force every breath in and out and the sound is gruesome. About five, he gets his second breathing treatment and his breathing finally soothes a bit. At six, I get up the girls and get everyone in the van to head to meet the buses at quarter til 7.

Dixie is adamant that I cannot possibly make Charlie go along. I am equally adamant that I cannot simply leave him here and we go back and forth until it dawns on me that she thinks I'm going to make him go to school. Once I explain that we are getting the girls on their bus, getting things ready for my sub, then coming home to let him sleep until the pediatrician can see him, she happily hops into her booster.

As I head home, I call my mother to inform her that this is simply not acceptable. I sent her a boy in 'like new' condition and was returned a one in 'poor' condition. If we were on amazon or ebay, her feedback ratings would not be so hot.

The pediatrician prescribes steroids, runs flu and strep tests (both negative) and rules out meningitis. We go home for a brief nap (and more meds) before heading to my allergist appointment. Then home for a brief nap before going to school to get the girls.

After retrieving the girls, I once again call my mother to say that she is clearly not alone in returning my children all willy-nilly in a haphazard state. There is apparently a grand conspiracy, or perhaps an epidemic of poor supervision.

Because Dixie had more teeth than that when she went to school today. I can't believe public schools are content to send children home missing body parts with no notice save the little necklace that dangles around their necks, containing the missing bits.

The nerve.

I think I need better help.

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