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When Viruses (and Kids) Attack, Part I

September 5, 2011

What I'd give to chew on some good ol' orange Aspergum right now.

Last Friday I came down with an icky bug.  Achy muscles, lethargic, sore throat, 102-degree temperature.  Made me wish for my mommy to come take care of me.  Instead, I asked my mommy to come take care of my kids. 

This is the part about parenting no one tells you when you’re sitting around those adorable pink-and-blue baby showers yukking it up.  Sure, everyone talks about three a.m. feedings, poop blow-outs at the McDonald’s playland, and tantrums in the grocery store.   Pleeeease.  Even a teenage babysitter could handle that stuff. 

What no one tells you about is how excruciatingly painful it is to take care of young children while you’re sick.  So hard.  I mean falling-down-on-my-knees-begging-the-UPS-man-to-bludgeon-me-with-the-new-stereo-he-just-delivered-so-I-can-recover-alone-in-a-hospital-bed type of hard. 

Here’s me last Friday: 

Can’t you two just lay down with Mommy while I nap?  Here, let me put in The Last Unicorn.  I know I told you it was too scary to watch.  But now I need you to watch it for me.  Hey, Jude, go get Mommy that thermometer over there.  Yes, that one.  No, don’t stick it in Peanut’s ear.  She doesn’t like that.  Don’t.  Give it to me.  No.  Here.  Please.  No.  Come back in here.  I’m getting up now.  Damnit. 

What people should also tell you is that parenting means having to feign that you’re in control when you can’t even manage to spread peanut butter on a slice of bread.  Who am I kidding.  Children will sniff it out of you eventually.  And they know that all it would take is for you to trip on the sole of your slipper on the way to grab a Kleenex.  Then you’re toast.  Because that’s when they can tackle you, all 60-pounds of combined body weight, before tying you up with their shoelaces and taking over.  And so begins their sugarfest free-for-all, followed by two hours of  front yard naked time, before sliding across the wood floor on ice skates made of kitchen knives.  Perfect. 

It’s days like these when I fondly look back on being home sick with the flu as a kid.  Now that was a piece of cake.  I’d even go so far as to call it enjoyable.  No, I’ll go one step further.  Being sick back then was a luxury.  No school and I got to kick back with some 7-Up, saltine crackers and morning game shows.  And if I was lucky, my mom would let me chew some orange Aspergum.  Later, after a relaxing nap and a lunch of Chicken & Stars eaten from a Cabbage Patch Kid metal bed tray, I’d watch amateur educational television shows on PBS the rest of the day.  God bless ’em, those shows would’ve never seen the light of day if it weren’t for sick kids. 

I’m talking gems like this:

And this:

And especially this: 

Relaxing on the couch with my PBS shows, I didn’t know how good I had it.  And I’d like to time-travel back to 1982 just to slap myself for ever wanting to climb out of that cocoon.  Once, while fighting a high fever, I actually begged my mom to let me go to school. 

It was my 2nd grade class field day.  And I was the fastest girl in my class.  I was.  I swear.  Yeah, so I choked during my 1st grade race.  But I had been practicing at recess, I just got a new pair of Kangaroos, and I knew this was my year to win.  Fastest Girl in Second-Grade.  Do you have any idea how far this title could take you in life?  I’m talking respect, popularity, first pick on the puffy unicorns during sticker-trading.  The whole ball of wax.  But then, the field day race came around and I was flat on my back watching The Price is Right.  Mom, I’m fine.  I can still run.  My mom actually told me I’d die if I tried to run in my condition. 

I coped with this letdown in my usual fashion, the way I knew best how to make sense of the uncontrollable.  I got out my paper and sketch pad.  I drew a picture of my white blood cells fist-fighting the evil virus germs inside me.  In the second frame, the White Team got a special delivery.  A medicine capsule!  And then, when the germs were not looking, out of the capsule like a Trojan horse emerged a case of artillery weapons.  Finally, in the third frame, the white blood cells grabbed their spears and stabbed out the hearts of the evil germs.  Brilliant, huh?  Though maybe a tad violent.  But what can I say, I grew up watching Poltergeist.

I saved the drawing, certain I could use it to win a contest or two.  I thought it would definitely be picked up by some health education campaign.  You know, those public service ads where they use some sorry kid’s shoddy artwork just so grown-ups can all have a good laugh.  Aren’t those great?  Here are a few I found online: 

I think this one is probably, “Don’t pollute, and save our water supplies.”

Maybe, “Don’t smoke, eat right and your parents will let you get a tattoo”?

Okay, this one is a bit cryptic and a little disturbing.  Give me a second . . .

Hold on here.  This is mine!  No, no, I didn’t actually draw this, but this is the picture I saw in my head on Friday.  Right there you see is the UPS man with my (broken?) stereo.  There are my two kids tying me  up.  And there is . . . well, I don’t know who that third person is.  A metaphor?  No.  Hey, you know who that is?  That girl is “sick-me” 30 years ago.  Yes, there she is, age 7, standing on the sidelines, glimpsing the future.  And she is realizing she should shut her trap about the stupid 2nd grade field day race, lay back and enjoy those Chicken & Stars and daytime shows.  Because someday, kid, you can bet your big wheel, this kind of sick day will be a luxury.  That’s right, someday she’ll be fighting through achiness, fever and exhaustion while struggling to spread peanut butter on a slice of bread.  And all the while, the minions will be plotting and preparing for the impending moment when they’ll seize total power.   
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    September 5, 2011 10:01 pm

    i LOVED Once Upon A Time….. Now THAT was quality broadcasting. A few years ago I made a FB post about it and noone…. NOONE responded. I was shocked. I pulled it up on google and let Riley (then only 2) watch every episode. He loved it…. i thought. But just this last week he came home from Kindergarten telling me about this GREAT show they get to watch every Friday about a Librarian name Marian and a witch. Apparently he didn’t love it enough then to remember it. ;)

    • September 6, 2011 7:47 am

      Oh, stick with me, Amanda. I can assure you I’ll remember all those obscure shows long after they’ve left the gray matter of everyone else’s minds. I cannot believe they’re still watching that show in schools! You just blew my mind on that. Next you’re going to tell me that Riley just watched The Letter People.

  2. Davis permalink
    September 12, 2011 7:29 am

    “Don’t smoke, eat right and your parents will let you get a tattoo”?” That one caught me off guard–hit me right in the funny bone–nearly shot Cheerios-milk through my nose.

    • September 20, 2011 3:26 pm

      Seriously, the tattoo sure added a nice touch to the “After” photo. I’d love to meet the artist of this just to tell him/her so.


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