Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sick Day

This weekend we took the kids for our annual outing to the Pumpkin Patch.

We did it up. We rode the tractor, we selected pumpkins, we got cornfused in the giant corn maze, and we ate our weight in garlic fries. 

It was fantastic. 

Except that -- because we live in Southern California -- it was also so, so, so HOT.

As we made our way home it occurred to me that I was feeling really, really tired, which wasn't all that surprising considering that I might as well been hauling massive gourds around on the surface of Mars for seven hours straight. But when I woke up the next morning I realized that I was more than just tired. I was, in fact, sick. Like chills, fevers, there-might-be-vomiting-in-my-very-near-future SICK.

This bad news turned into truly terrible news when I heard my five-year-old calling miserably from his bed in the next room. 

"MOMMY! I don't feel good!!! Please get me some milk!"

Because of my rising fever I was unable to process this request as what is was -- straight up insane -- and so I headed to the kitchen and poured the kid a tall glass. Not surprisingly, minutes later milk came flying back in my general direction from my son's mouth, nose, and possibly eye sockets.


My husband had an important meeting and had to head for the office, which left sick me and sick son to sick it up together for the better part of the day. As David shut the door to take the two younger ones to the sitter and head to work I had a "Sandra Bullock 20 minutes into the movie Gravity" moment and thought,

"I cannot imagine how I am going to get out of this alive...."

I did bucket duty for my poor puking kid for the next two hours in a sort of fugue state.

When the vomiting finally subsided I dragged my son into my bed and the two of us fell into a feverish sleep. I woke up two hours later and found myself staring into my boy's cute little face. He was awake but still looking pretty dazed. 

I put my arms around him and asked him how he was feeling.

"Terrible," he said. "I hate being sick."

"Me too," I replied.

Then something kind of great happened. 

My son and I laid together and started talking. We talked about school and what he likes about it and what he doesn't like. (LIKES: Doing Wii Fit and lunch. DOESN'T LIKE: When the Big Bad Wolf blows the house down at story time.) We talked about platypuses and how weird it is that they have venom. I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up. (He feels it would probably be best to stay a kid forever but if he absolutely had to get bigger he might consider being a fireman.) We talked about the Wall-E doll he wants to ask Santa for this year and how it drives him crazy when his sister knocks over his trains.

As I laid there listening to my son talk I realized how rarely we get time like this. With three kids aged 5 and under, my days are pretty darn busy. My big guy is in school five days now, and between keeping the smaller ones from destroying the house, getting meals on the table, and getting clothes on and off every day there's just not a lot of downtime for, you know, chatting. 

We have meals together, but with five of us at the table we don't really have conversations as much as we have an endless string of shouted statements that rapidly devolve into constant and tearful demands for cookies. 

But on our otherwise miserable sick day I ended up with a delightfully perfect half an hour of conversation with my oldest child, and it reminded me again of how often the worst days of mothering can contain these little perfect moments if you keep an eye out for them.

About half an hour into our conversation my son immediately announced he was hungry. He'd experienced one of those miraculous young-person recoveries where they go from feverish and limp to eating everything in sight in the course of an hour.

I got out of bed and served him:
  • two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • two bowls of cereal
  • an ice cream cone
  • two bananas
  • four glasses of water
  • some juice

A half an hour later the food had all stayed down and my son was busy playing HexBugs in the playroom. I was glad my guy was feeling better, but felt a little melancholy that it meant our cuddle and conversation time was over... least until the next sick day.