Saturday, July 20, 2013

Birthdays and Bedpans, Part 1

Everything turns upside down in the house when one of the parents is sick. Not sick like the sniffles or a headache. And as I've said before, not sick like awesome, the way you twenty-somethings use it. Dad would never be sick in that case. No, sick like deathbed, can't move, flu kind of sick. This place is always a madhouse, but when one of the tall people is suddenly felled by illness, the wee folk remarkably show some compassion and keep their behaviors in check, their tantrums to a minimum, and their desires for impossibly high items like fly swatters and mail catalogs directed mostly toward the healthy parent. Except for the wee-est one, who still batted me on the ears with a rake and threw baseballs into my crotch as I lay on the couch and moaned.

Maybe we're just lucky then, that two of our three kids are courteous enough to totally ignore us when we are at our worst, instead of ratcheting up the annoyance when they sense weakness, like wild animals. Maybe, as we tell each other all the time, God really does only give you what you can handle, and so we got two really easy ones and one sorta easy one who we might groom to an easy one if we have enough energy left.

I mean nobody came and offered to take my temperature with a plastic thermometer or listen to my heart with a plastic stethoscope, but that's fine. Their respectful distance meant more than their half-hearted attempts at taking blood pressure and my half-hearted attempts at explaining what the imaginary numbers would have meant. Of course when anyone got near me, I told them I'd make them throw up, so that might have played a role, too. Oof! Another rake to the side of the head. I'd put him in his bed as punishment for that, but I couldn't lift a tissue. "You can go to bed if you want to," offered the three-year-old in his expert medical opinion. I took him up on it.

The next morning everyone trod lightly. There was a certain amount of anticipation, though. Not quite Christmas morning but probably more than Easter morning, as the two oldest tried to enter my force field of sick. They looked curious, perhaps to see if the miserable adult they left last night was back to being his more normal morning sort of miserable. Eyes still glazed with sleep, fingers in mouths, they approached, shy, like they would an adult they had never met before. They usually want cereal at this hour, but they aren't shy about that. What do they want?

"Did you throw up last night?"

When I nodded my bedhead yes and smiled a little, they moved in, guards down, sitting up straight in my bed, rapt with attention like I'm a WWII veteran finally opening up about my experiences. They came prepared with an arsenal of follow-up questions, one of which wasn't, "Might you throw up again with us 3 inches from your face?" Apparently they thought throwing up was a one-and-done exercise,

What color was it?
What bathroom did you do it in?
Did you get it all in the toilet?
How come I didn't hear you last night?
Did Mommy throw up too?
Did it hurt?
Did you cry?

At the risk of being too graphic the answers are, in order, horrendously brown, my own, yes this time, because I was tiptoeing the whole way (alternatively: I have no idea how you didn't hear Bert going, "HONK. HONK. AYUUUUUUUUGA, as I tripped three times over your brother's Sesame Street car/dashboard thing that is loud enough to scare away intruders), no, no, and no in fact it was the happiest I'd ever felt while doing it.

As in any family, though, the two next questions after someone gets really sick like that involve (1)  whether it was a virus or did I just "get a hold of some bad meat," even though it's usually the bad meat that gets a hold of you, and (2) who's next in the family, which usually gets as much speculation as the name of the Royal Baby, complete with odds.

Since our three-year-old is preparing to celebrate a birthday in the next day, we figured that with his typical middle-child luck, he would come down with some horrific virus that would make us debate hospitalization. So if Vegas were posting odds, I'd bet the house on his being the "next" one.


Tom Williams said...

There are few things worse than when one (or both) parents are sick. Our worst were grownup food poisoning (from Wendy's Chicken Sandwiches), and the Norovirus that swept through ALL OF US AT THE SAME TIME. It was dreadful, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I feel for ya'...we lost our 4th of July week this year to the Rolling after the other, for a week, each member of the family went down. I identified with a lot of this, and my favorite line was "rapt with attention like I'm a WWII veteran finally opening up about my experiences"...cracked me up.

JC said...

That's pretty horrendous, Tom...we were able to get by that this time! How long before you ate at Wendy's again?

JC said...

Thanks for swinging by, Francis :-) Always a treat when you can't get it out of the house...

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