Our home is occasionally taken over in the fall and winter by cold and flu viruses. It’s the cold variety here right now, but luckily it’s nothing serious except that it’s me and I’m not bragging, but I kinda run this place single-handedly. But getting sick is what happens when you have kids who go to school, participate in group activities, and play games like “Who Can Lick the Most Doorknobs?”
My fingers are crossed, and so far I’m the only one down with this thing. While I’m lying in bed, surrounded by damp mountains of tissues and empty pill bottles, the kids are as full of youthful energy as ever. At least, I think they are. I haven’t actually seen them for more than just a second or two in the last three days.
When I get sick my kids avoid me like I’ve got my daybook out and the dentist on the line. It’s not so much that they don’t want to catch the bug themselves, but more that they are completely incapable of showing empathy when it comes to their mother. When I broke my nose playing baseball last year, one of my children requested my still-being-used-bloody towel – to wipe their shoes on.
I’m invisible when I’m not completely healthy, and I have several theories about this. I’m pretty sure it comes down to being afraid of my sudden “fragility,” and them not liking the sudden upset in the household’s balance of power. When I’m not able to function at my usual 65% percent, they hold all the cards and they know it.
But they’re not sociopaths who are incapable of emotion or empathy. I’ve witnessed “Get Better Soon” card making marathons, and one year my daughter gave a huge portion of her Halloween candy to a sick classmate who was unable to go trick or treating. I’ve even dialed the telephone so one of my small children could make a condolence call to a friend whose gerbil had died.
But when mom gets a fever and a cough?
Tumbleweeds, friends. TUMBLEWEEDS.
When my kids are sick, I try to make their convalescence period as comfortable as possible. I serve the perfect room-temperature ginger ale – fizz removed - and the couch is laid daily with the softest lavender-scented sheets. Cool compresses are changed and refreshed like clockwork. I make sure the television clicker is close at hand and I am available for foot rubs upon request. All I can say about these two is that I am impressed with their ability to launch a Kleenex box from 15 feet away via drop kick. It’s a good thing I’m on the mend, and that I don’t get sick too often, because I am definitely not getting any soup delivered soon. That sort of treatment is reserved for sick friends and dead gerbils.