When Viruses (and Kids) Attack, Part I
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 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 . . .