Announcement: I’ve unlocked a new parenting level. Without my cajoling, my kids have shared and taken turns.
Sadly, it’s with the flu.
One was home from school all last week with one of those terrible, turn-of-the-century dry hacking coughs, body aches, and low fever. No medicines alleviated his symptoms. He couldn’t sleep at night because of the severity of the cough.
I stayed next to him because he is still of an age where my proximity can bring comfort. I tried to write. To think. Coughs punctuated my work. I wrote short choppy sentences that drifted off in bronchial ellipses. I stopped.
Finally an inhaler, some slightly different medicines, and all the reassurances a place called a “Minute Clinic” can provide. Longer, more wandering thoughts of mine were unleashed. Due to sleep deprivation and too much time away from good thinking and writing practices, those thoughts were sweet, naughty puppies, running off chasing every little thing, sniffing around. While entertaining, they were not the better-trained companions I usually have and need.
We saw the light at the end of the tunnel, my sweet boy finally able to go long moments, then hours, between skeleton-wracking coughing fits. A tree was being chopped down in the neighborhood and boy sobbed because he craved sleep. The tree ultimately went down and he slept. For a few days, his body greedily claimed rest. He’s still got occasional residual hacking, but this past Monday he went back to school.
Not before passing this little gift on to his sister, though. She’s now sick with the same thing, Day 8 for her. Day 16 for the family. Because she’s little, she’s understandably much needier when she’s sick. My proximity comforts her even more than it did her brother, or at least gives her some entertainment – her coughs too often land directly in my mouth, like some gross carnival game. We remind her to cough in her elbow. She tries.
This is the gig, of course, when you’re a parent. They cough, you tend. They’re up at night, you’re with them. All hands are firmly on deck, and all other tasks are put on hold.
I force myself to be grateful that it is “only” this, that it could be worse.
There’s been a lot of extra screen time these past weeks, and, I think to compensate for their watery eyes, they are turning up the volume. I’ve decided to try not to compete with marathon sessions of Teen Titans Go! or whatever is floating their boats while they are miserable. But I admit that my skin is crawling, a sure sign I am in desperate need of quiet time to regroup and work.
I’m assuming the third child will be home next week. Such are things.
It must be the time of year. I refer you to something I wrote over at Multiples Illuminated a year ago. Same song, difference verse.
Carry on, warrior parents. I’m waving from my trench to you in yours.