When I was younger, I rarely got sick. But when I did, I openly succumbed to the day or two that it would take me to get over it. I remember laying in bed, taking something like NyQuil to zonk me out, sleeping it off with nothing but the buzz of the TV in the background, maybe someone waking me with some chicken soup, and then life went on.
That was obviously a long time ago. The pre-child era.
Here’s how a cold or flu go in the current era.
One day, I go to school to pick up my son. The two kids that the day before had rivers of snot running down their cute little noses, has multiplied, the multiplication includes my son. He whines and moans and groans on the couch for a couple of hours a day, fever-free, and at school, symptom-free, and is soon back to his normal cheery self.
I wake up the next day unable to move, breathe, think. I take him to school, the teachers see me, and split to different corners of the room.
“You go rest,” they say from afar.
“Yeah, ok,” I say. You know nothing.
Your kid gets sick and everyone is all “Oh, careful you don’t get it.” What does that even mean. They will drink from your glass. They will drool on you. They will sneeze in your face, cough everywhere.
I spend six days planning what time I need to pop two Advil to go to the supermarket, cook, pick up my kid, and put him to bed without the pills’ effects having time to wear off. I eat vitamin C until my stomach issues a warning to stop.
“Do you have a fever?”someone asks.
Of course I don’t, I’ve taken so much ibuprofen that fever never even had a chance.
I cook meals that taste like nothing to me but like too much of something for everyone else. After-school cartoon marathons become the norm, as I lay under a duvet in what is still summer, surrounded by toilet paper rolls because I’ve run out of Peppa Pig tissues, which my son cuts into little pieces to make forts and blankets for his teddy. Bedtime stories are constantly interrupted by nose blowing and coughing, but as he falls asleep, I know tomorrow I will be better.
But I’m not. I begin to research strange viral outbreaks on the internet, thinking I may have missed a news story, yet nothing, so I go back under the duvet and watch a movie, simply because I cannot do anything else. Nothing.
“Are you better, mommy?” he asks today, noticing that the duvet has been replaced by a thin blanket.
“Not really, baby,” I say.
“Here, take teddy, you will feel better,” he says covering both of us with a sheet of toilet paper, intertwining his fingers with mine.