Friday, July 06, 2007

Geoffrey Scheldenfeld

I knew this guy once named Geoffrey Scheldenfeld. Geoffrey’s situation was that at certain times, once he was holding an object, he would feel the urge to continue holding that thing for anywhere from two hours to four days. He never felt compelled to pick something up and carry it around, but rather, upon lifting something, whether it be the TV remote, a dirty glass, a briefcase or sack of potatoes, some part of his mind needed him to hold that thing for a while before setting it down. And once he set that thing down, it was squarely in the center of his kitchen table, where it would remain for anywhere from two to five days before he could then pick it back up and put it away in its proper place. He all but stopped buying produce at the grocery store but, if he did, he usually just left it in the bag on the kitchen counter if he was lucky enough to put it down immediately at all.

This made life awkward for Geoffrey, as you can imagine. He had to be very picky about what he lifted. He eventually refused all requests from friends to help move, not wanting to be caught in the awkward situation of holding a lamp or one end of a sofa for three days. When traveling, he usually asked the cab drivers and bellmen to carry his luggage as far as possible. He was never quarterback or receiver in our pick-up games of football and, when he finally, six years ago, got married, he had to wait a day and a half past the night he was planning to propose to hand the ring to his fiancée, and even then she had to get it herself from the center of his kitchen table.

The point is that we never know what we or our kids are going to be inflicted with, whether it’s depression or hives, left-handedness, some mild form of OCD causing your kid to ask what time it is every three minutes or something more severe like poor Geoffrey Scheldenfeld’s case. God forbid there should be blindness, deafness or something dire enough to send a child for a stay at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Kristy and I have been very lucky at our house and we realize this every day. Geoffrey Scheldenfeld is none of my kids, he is not me. What we do have is GK and something called Breath-Holding Spells. These spells hit her during fits of crying when she’s so upset that everything seems to stop for her, both the crying and the breathing. The internet assures us it is not harmful, certainly not fatal. The child will always begin breathing again on her own within a minute and the greatest concern seems to be that she will pass out, though only momentarily, and fall, so we have to watch that. She may also turn blue, though again, no great need for worry.

Breath-Holding Spells is just something else that you don’t prepare for as a parent. Who could? No parent wants to think of his one-year-old being so upset that all animation ceases for a few seconds. It’s a scary thing to watch, but something we just have to be ready for. It will go away, if it keeps up at all, within the next couple of years. Until then it’s just something that we and GK have to carry around with us. Like poor Geoffrey Scheldenfeld. Last time I saw Geoffrey he was getting off a trolley downtown to get some lunch. He was carrying a brand new toaster oven. That seems like a bad decision.