Most of the time, sorting out who is caring for Mr. K is fairly straightforward, or so it feels. Every now and then, though, I’m reminded that it’s actually a bit of a game of Jenga and we’re one misplaced block away from the whole thing falling apart. Or, as we found out yesterday, one high temperature reading on the thermometer away, anyhow.
My husband and I have varying schedules. This is somewhat planned in my case but with elements of chance for both of us. R will usually have two days off per week from his full-time job, one of which is usually Sunday plus one other that is determined by his bosses and organizational needs. For me, I do work where people sometimes want me and sometimes don’t; this means that I can be very busy in a given week, or very quiet depending on what other people want. It usually ends up working out quite well, though. Mr. K goes to childcare regularly, but is far from full-time and he gets quite a bit of one-to-one time with both of us, no mean feat given R is a full-time worker.
This week was supposed to be one of the quiet ones, with Mr. K set to attend childcare for one day. That was supposed to be yesterday. When we got up in the morning, Mr. K was his usual self, albeit with a hot head. Teething, I concluded, but we’re required to take his temperature prior to dropping him off at childcare and, unfortunately, the thermometer confirmed that he had a bit of a temperature. It wasn’t terribly high, though, and it seemed to be dropping. R and I decided to just carry on as usual; after all, he just had to get through this one day.
So off we drove in the car. Mr. K was still cheerful enough, and I noted that he actually felt cooler by the time he got to childcare. Their thermometer, however, disagreed. Mr. K had a low-grade fever, they have a policy on these things, and they weren’t going to accept him that day. We had to make alternative arrangements.
We were pretty alarmed, but not yet panicking. It was too late for me to call my boss/coworker and ask her to come out from Tokyo to do my classes, so that left it up to R to sort out. I really only needed Mr. K to stay at childcare for the morning; while it was preferable that he didn’t join in my afternoon conversation lesson, my student wouldn’t mind if he came along. When Mr. K had roseola, R had swapped shifts to do the late one instead and so he set about calling his company and seeing if he could do the same. In the meantime, I started calculating precisely how early I could leave the nursery school where I was teaching following the conclusion of my classes. It would all work out, we were sure.
Then the company said no. They were already one person down and R hadn’t been trained to cover an area he would need to manage.
The next step was R’s mother, who lives nearby and is supposed to be our back-up. R’s relationship with his mother has deteriorated greatly in recent times, a story unto itself, and my relationship with her never really had a high point full stop. Her interest in Mr. K is minimal, especially in light of her relationship with Mr. K’s cousin. Neither of us were keen on this idea, but it didn’t end up mattering anyhow, though – her answer was an outright no.
That left us standing helplessly in the streets near R’s office, Mr. K still gurgling happily in his pram, with our back-up plan in tatters and minutes until R was supposed to be starting work.
In the end, one of his coworkers with a scheduled day off proved to be awesome and agreed to go in to work in R’s place (I must remind myself of this when R inevitably doesn’t get our anniversary off – the coworker was very nice). Everything ultimately worked out, but only just. Japanese companies are not known for their flexibility, to be a bit understated about it, and the idea that the father should be the one sacrificing shifts is all but unheard of. I’m quite grateful, but we can’t push our luck on this front again, and with baby-sitting similarly not being the done thing here outside of family, we’ve had to consider alternatives to just optimistically hoping Mr. K will fall ill on the days when one of us isn’t working.
Thus, R spent his day pre-registering with various childcare centres around our area who take care of sick children for the day. It’s not really ideal; if a regular childcare centre is a breeding ground for viruses, who knows what he would pick up in one of those places? Still, I guess I need to be grateful that these places exist, and probably a bit more grateful for the days when everything runs smoothly. Lesson learned, I hope.
As for Mr. K? His fever came and went throughout yesterday, never getting especially high, and he was pretty perky all the way through. He’s back to normal today, and so I’ll be grateful for that too.