Don’t strike me down G-d, I don’t mean that sick. Not hospital sick, or emergency room sick, not a stomach virus and absolutely no throwing up sick (entire family having a stomach virus should be listed as top trigger for parents giving up kids to foster care.) Temperature cannot be over 102, because that’s when the hallucinating starts, and while that shit is cute (“Mommy, the wall is melting”) it’s also too scary to wish for. Absolutely no broken bones, or anything involving pain of any kind. I know that cuts it down to practically nothing more than a hangnail, but even that can be kind of painful. It catches on everything, dude, that shit totally hurts!
The kidlets have a sniffle, and kind of a chunky cough; they are warm but don’t have a temperature, it’s the perfect level of sick – enough to leave them home, but not enough to scare the living shit out of me. Their throats are sore enough to keep them from talking too much. Their cough is not seal bark-ish enough to keep me (or them) up at night. They are tired, but not glandular-fever-chronic-fatigue-coma tired. Just tired enough to be a little sweeter and more affectionate than usual, in fact there is one hanging off me right now like a marsupial with skin.
I never worry that I am raising Mama’s Boys as my kids are far too independent, rebellious and mean to me. They are also pretty brave when it comes to physical stuff, except when they are tired, hungry or someone at school pissed them off that day. They bear sickness more like their father with a “must soldier on” mentality, as opposed to mommy’s patented “must…go…to…bed…slight…ache…in….right…temple…”
One of my favorite things my parents did for me when I was a kid was let me take a day off from school whenever I wanted. I had chronic allergies as a kid growing up in Melbourne, the pollen capital of the Southern Hemisphere, and while it sucked hard, at least I got to rub my swollen eyes at home, instead of in a classroom, or worse, on a PE field. I also often had asthma, bronchitis, viruses and non-specific body pain, probably stemming from social anxiety.
“Your grandmother has to come over,” my mother would warn me, and with good reason, the old woman was highly entertaining but fully bat-shit.
“I don’t care,” I would respond quickly, my hand already on the remote. TV. ALL DAY. I could totally deal with the old woman for that long… In fact I believe that these “mental health days,” wherein I got to stay home and still managed to ignore my grandmother as she served me food in front of the TV, completely saved me from even more mental illness than I currently have.
Now I sit writing this and watch my sleepy-eyed, phlegmy children watching “Regular Show,” (their cold putting them in exactly the right stoner mode to enjoy it) and I am so grateful that I could do that for them. Of course, it is still relatively early in the morning and I already feel like I’ve been home with them all day. Perhaps I should write back in an hour, after I’ve turned off the TV and they’ve refused to help me with the bedroom project I have in store. Then, contagious or not, they may be dropped off at the front door of their school, the screech of burning tires in their wake…