Matt Knutson: A smile could boost anyone you may meet

Published 6:56 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I’m afraid this is all my fault,” I told my wife when we learned our youngest daughter had her second ear infection in three weeks. Poor Maeva is following in her sister’s footsteps, and there’s not much we can do about it. I’m the natural one to blame, as I had to have tubes put in my ears as an infant due to the number of ear infections I had, and the doctors barely waited a week after Gracelyn met the age requirement to put tubes in her ears. Apparently Knutsons are made with small ear canals.

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Of course we wish our 4-month-old wasn’t experiencing this, but it has been enlightening to see how our daughters respond differently to illness. Physically, I often think of our girls as twins, just two years apart. My wife has posted photos of them side by side at the same age, and it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart. I’m sure their appearances will diverge as they get older, but when they look so similar today, it’s easy to assume they have the same personality as well. That’s why it has been so fascinating to see what Maeva is like when she’s sick.

Whenever Gracelyn would get an ear infection, we’d be in for a wild ride. She’d rarely keep any food down for longer than 30 minutes, she’d scream and cry, and give us a look on par with the sad puppy commercials by ASPCA. You couldn’t help but want to cuddle Gracelyn like a little koala bear. Maeva, on the other hand, is hardly phased. She maintains her gleeful smile for the majority of the day and sticks to her routine. The biggest difference: She doesn’t sleep well. This means her mom and dad also don’t sleep well. At 4 months old, I’m sure there are a lot of babies who still don’t sleep well naturally, but Maeva was doing pretty good a few weeks ago when she wasn’t sick. These days I can’t even count how many times she’s up in the middle of the night. It’s exhausting.

Sera and I are doing a decent job at keeping it together at work, but when we return home at the end of the day, it would be apparent to anyone who sees us just how tired we are. Clean dishes remain in the dish washer, clothes are unfolded and a few projects around the house are quite visibly paused halfway through. With survival mode activated, we’re pretty much doing the bare minimum to keep us afloat until the season of exhaustion has moved onward. Hopefully Maeva’s new prescription will bring that sooner rather than later.

A recent example of our tiredness taking over came the other day when we were pulling into a parking lot. A semi-truck driver was opening the hood of his truck and Sera remarked, “Oh, it’s Opus Crime,” mistakenly referring to the robot superhero Optimus Prime from Transformers. A few days later and Sera was asking me why the car ahead of us had bunny ears. In turns out she was referring to the Honda logo, which still puzzles me. I haven’t been immune to this nonsense either, recently swapping out the dog’s name for one of my daughter’s, and misplacing my glasses in the most logical spot of the house. I think we could all do with a good night of uninterrupted rest.

If I really am the one to blame for these ear infections, I suppose all that we’re going through happened to my parents as well. Knowing they made it through to the other side makes me hopeful that we’ll soon be through this latest round as well. Maeva is quick to remind me that we aren’t quite there yet though, waking up twice just as I draft this for you to read. Maybe tomorrow will be the fresh start we need. Until then, be kind to the weary souls you meet. Your smile could be the boost of energy they need to get through the rest of the day.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.