Saturday, January 26, 2008

Scrolling Saturdays #2- Working Triage


People have often asked me how I manage three young children when all of them are clamoring for my attention at the same time. My answer is simple. I'm working triage.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines triage like so:

A process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from immediate medical treatment. Triage is used in hospital emergency rooms, on battlefields, and at disaster sites when limited medical resources must be allocated.A system used to allocate a scarce commodity, such as food, only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it.A process in which things are ranked in terms of importance or priority: “For millions of Americans, each week becomes a stressful triage between work and home that leaves them feeling guilty, exhausted and angry” (Jill Smolowe).
I have watched enough medical TV (ER, Grey's Anatomy, Birth Stories, Plastic Surgery Before and After, Dr. 90210, Medical Incredible, Mystery Diagnosis, anything I can get my hands on, really) to know what triage means. I've seen it in action on the tube, and yes, here in my home.It usually goes something like this.
I am in the middle of doing laundry (as usual) and Joey approaches. His face is drooping, a watery substance falling from his eyes. First, I assess the situation. The boy is clutching his stomach, complaining of pain, AND it is 11:01 A.M. Aha! The 4 year old is starving. Starving, I tell you! It must be serious hunger to warrant tears, yes? Nevermind that mid-morning snack he finished just an hour ago, he must have a sandwich immediately or he will surely perish. It is a definite Priority 1.
As I walk into the kitchen the baby starts whining. Again, I assess the situation. A quick scan reveals no injuries. Lift baby and sniff butt cheeks. Yep. Poopy diaper. This is now the new Priority 1.
As I sit down on the floor to change Ben, Tommy comes dancing up to me. Assess the situation. He is grabbing his penis and jumping up and down. His face is scrunched. Uh-oh. He has to go pee-pee!!!! This is the emergency that overrides all other emergencies and is ALWAYS Priority 1 as he is only 2 years old and has limited bodily fluid control.Grab Ben and Tommy and race upstairs (no bathroom on the 1st floor) to unload bladder. Wash hands. Run back downstairs where the diaper supplies (and seriously starving 4 year old) await our return. Quickly and efficiently change poopy diaper.
But what is this????? Poopy diaper has leaked! Poopy diaper has leaked! Situation has now turned Code Red!Carry baby and half removed diaper with pooped-up onesie back upstairs to bathroom and remove diaper over the bathtub. Once diaper is removed and poops are wiped off Ben's back, carefully and slooowly remove poopy onesie over the head of now enraged baby WITHOUT getting more poop on said baby. Quickly rinse baby, while trying to keep 4 year old and 2 year old from stepping in, on, or around poopy diaper and poopy clothes. Wash hands. Dry baby and redress in warm fresh clothes.
Carry baby back down the stairs, set him in his bouncer and FINALLY make the starving boy his sandwich. Are we done yet? Of course not. As I am getting the desired ingredients for the starving 4 year old's sandwich Tommy again approaches. This time there is no need for an assessment. "I have to go poo-poo so bad." A quick glance over at Joe and I know he is close to the brink and will probably not make it through another 5 minutes of waiting. Thinking quickly, I tell Tommy to start his way up the stairs while I run to the fridge and grab some string cheese, toss it over to Joe, grab the baby and catch up to Tommy on the stairs. I set Tommy on the pot and try not to ask him, "Are you done yet? Any more? Are you done, now?" every ten seconds.
Finally, wipe the boy, wash the hands, grab the baby and back down the stairs we go. The starving 4 year old is finished with his string cheese and is now nibbling on the plain bread that I had set on the counter. I finish making the sandwich, pour the milk, and a thankful smile spreads across his face.
Seeing his brother happily eating his sandwich reminds Tommy that he is hungry as well, and so the routine goes on, and on.
I always said I would have a career in the medical field, and in a way, I do.


This post was originally written on October 27, 2007. Hop on over to Scrolling Saturdays to read more posts.

37 comments:

imbeingheldhostage said...

Brilliant post! And this is exactly what it's like, isn't it? Comparable to also being in the trenches. Hmm, "Triage and Trenches" I sense a song coming on....

suchsimplepleasures said...

awesome post!!
but
...wait...you have your 2 year old, potty trained?! you must have done a fellowship!!!!
you must have to run up and down the stairs, all day long...with no bathroom on the first floor!
loved the post!!! you're funny!
xoxo

wright said...

This is a frightening post for me. I only have the one baby now and am already thinking about the next, but I can't really imagine how difficult it can be with two children - let alone three. You are doing a great job with your kids - keep it up!

girlymom said...

Hey wait why does this sound soooo familiar? Oh yeah- that's a day in the life of being a mom right?!! This scene usually occurs as my oldest is waiting for the bus, which I can't leave her standing outside alone- chaos breaks out. But ya know what would a day be like without it all. This is written so cleverly- thanks for sharing, nice to know I am not the only one trying to get a poopy onesie over the head!

wheelsonthebus said...

That sounds like my house, and I only have two! You sound better at it than I am, however.

Emily

Sniz said...

What a great post! Triage! How creative and what a true picture of how the mom of babies and toddlers fill their days!

secret agent mama said...

This post was simply perfect! Triage. Totally!

Chrissy said...

That brought back a lot of memories from when my kids were that age. It seemed like I spent all day long just tending to 'emergencies', and then at the end of the day, it didn't look like I'd gotten anything accomplished beyond feeding, dressing, and changing. I feel for ya!

Laura said...

WONDERFUL...and so true...I now have my response...TRIAGE! BRILLIANT!

Laura said...

Great way of explaining it...and a picture right out of my house...though, of course, I was also homeschooling, and had a few extra pairs of hands to "help"... Thanks for sharing!

Manners & Moxie said...

Goodness I'm exhausted! And now I realize I'm a really lazy mommy. I have one daughter. One. She's seven now. I thought I had baby fever. Um, no, false alarm. Thanks for the gentle wake up call. ;)

I am uber-impressed. I really am. I don't think I've ever read anyone's account of daily life with littles ones like this. I do believe a medical triage might prove to be a bit too relaxed for you! :)

Melissa said...

You my dear are a saint. I'll bet at the end of the day you fall into bed exhausted!!

Tara R. said...

Oh, how I long for the good ol' days of toddler-dom... not! Funny post. Enjoy this Scrolling Saturday.

TheVasquez3 said...

such a great post! i mean really GREAT!!

oh and i love the song playing...love it!

happy Scrolling Saturday, feel free to pop in at our place!

Sandy C. said...

I'm in the medical field, and I can safely say that I'd be glad to work along side you in triage!! I have one 2-yr old (un-potty trained), and I'm usually the one clamoring for drugs for myself ;)

Great post!

Sarah said...

I think you just explained and re-played my weekdays! Yep, you definitely did... =o)

Kellan said...

Great post Kathryn. Everytime I am at the grocery store with a huge load of groceries or anywhere carrying an armload of packages or something and someone asks me, "Do you need help?" I always say, "I have four kids - I don't need help, but thanks." I have learned to carry more than any human woman should be capable of carrying in one load, etc... I know what you mean - I am the queen of multi-tasking! We do have our hands full!

Have a great weekend. See you later. Kellan

Jenni said...

K, it was like you took a day out of my life!

Your new avatar is SO beautiful!

Nissa said...

That's great! I never thought of it that way before, but you so nailed it! Triage... :)

Amber said...

I love this analogy! I'm holding off on potty training my 2 1/2 year old because we only have a bathroom on the top floor. (Which is possibly the most obnoxious thing ever).

Kellan said...

Hi Kathryn - thanks for coming by today. Hope you have had a good weekend. See ya. Kellan

Family Adventure said...

I saw this one in October, but it still cracks me up :)

Heidi

OHmommy said...

Oh, yes. That sounds VERY familar. Heeheee!

Beck said...

I think I need a nap now - that SOUNDS EXHAUSTING!

suchsimplepleasures said...

you changed your avatar!! very pretty!!
how's everything going?
xoxo

Kathryn said...

Jenni and Melissa-
Yep I changed my avatar. My old pic wasn't showing up anymore and I didn't know how to fix it. I couldn't find that pic on my computer anymore so I had to find a new pic. I wish my boys were in it with me, but I'm not in a lot of pics because I am always the one taking the photo. I had to search back to early December in order to find a pic where you could even see my face at all. heh heh
Anyway, thanks!

Ashley said...

Brilliant! I need to set up a triage system...only mine would be: baby, husband, cleaning...oh wait, and work...
No wonder I don't eat all day somedays!

Cara said...

When do you get to eat or go to the bathroom? Sounds like you are so busy.
I have a feeling that my future has many of these days in it :)

david mcmahon said...

Working triage - that is the most accurate, most evocative, most hilarious description I've ever seen of parenthood.

How di I know? I'm a Dad.

Wonderful post ....

MamaGeek said...

This, to me, was a perfect post making perfect sense. Triage. EXACTLY. Hmmmph, you rule!

Dawn said...

This was great writing. I only have two but it still gets pretty crazy like this around my house sometimes. You are a great mom!

david mcmahon said...

I forgot to add that I'm a Dad of three - but my wife says I'm one of the kids too!

Thanks for dropping by my blog and I thought your comment on the naturists was wonderful!!

Melinda Zook said...

Wow, you have encapsulated my day today into words perfectly. Actually, it is like my day everyday! You really hit the nail on the head as far as what we moms with more than one have to go through.

GREAT post!

david mcmahon said...

... and where did you say you dry-clean your Supermom cape???!!!!

suchsimplepleasures said...

ok...see, it's not saturday anymore!!! it's almost wednesday!!

and...i'm more than a little concerned about your last comment...the bwahahahaha one...the one with the creepy, maniacal laugh...um...anyway...xoxox
but, you're right, that's what i get for putting pleasure in my name...;)
xoxo

LaskiGal said...

You so do not sound grumpy. I have no idea what I would do with three young boys. Granted, I only have that ONE five-month-old boy (jumper, exersaucer, crazy dancing mommy, eat, sleep, and I'm done . . . ).

I love this post!!! Your boys are ADORABLE--I'm such a baby/kid addict now! Love 'em. Love the comment by Joey about catalog girl . . . brilliant! "She is probably cold." If only it could stay that simple . . . he, that innocent.

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Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
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