In Praise of a Sick Day- Heaven Help Me
My seventh grader woke up sick this morning. After sending up a prayer that whatever it was didn’t pass through the family, my next thought, heaven help me, was, “Oh good, we can nest today.”
What Type of Mother Am I?!?
I know what you are thinking: what type of mother would wish illness on her child, just so they could have a cuddle day.
Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want my daughter to feel bad, and I don’t want to bring some major bad germ with a penchant for traveling amongst family members into our midst. But a little 12 to 24 hour bug that is just enough to slow us down for a day wouldn’t be too bad. What type of mother would wish this on a child? This very busy mother of a very busy 13 year old who is growing up way too fast, that’s who.
The Business of Life
I’ve been driven to this, I tell you. It seems that in the blink of an eye my little girl who used to think the best day in the world was hanging out with me, now thinks the best days are with her friends. My little girl who used to sit in the kitchen while I fixed dinner and tell me about her day and the day of every kid in school now goes off to her room to listen to her iPod. Instead of lazy afternoons at home, her after-school hours are filled with soccer practice, school labs, club meetings, and piano lessons.
Putting the World on Hold
But just for today, we can put the world on hold. We can curl up in front of the fire together sipping our Red Zinger and reading Baby Island. (This is a real oldie by Carol Ryrie Brink who also wrote Caddie Woodlawn.) Many years ago I started the tradition of reading a classic children’s book to my kids when they were sick. The rule is that neither kid nor mom can read it by themselves; all reading must be done together. Now that my kids are older and we don’t read to them much at bedtime, we often don’t get around to finishing the book once the child gets well; so next sick day, I pull out the same book, go back a few chapters and start in again. My daughter claims we started Baby Island three years ago.
Now, I’ll admit, this happens to be a pretty good day for me to slow down. I have a million other things to do, but none of them that can’t wait for a day.
It also helps that this particular child is not a malingerer. With another one of my kids I have to be a bit more circumspect, and can’t throw myself completely into this slow down and nest approach since he has been known to –shall we say– “embellish” his illness for the sake of missing school.
Of course, I reserve the right to deny that I ever felt this way if this bug turns out to be the easily passed around kind, or the lingering kind, or the throw-up kind. (I once famously told my kids, that our family didn’t do barf bugs, and surprisingly they seldom get them, which makes me pause to consider the power of suggestion.)
Looking Into the Future
It’s not that I don’t want my children to grow up. I know that’s the goal of parenthood. It’s also not that I don’t want my children to be involved in healthy after school activities. It’s just that sometimes I miss the old days when I was the center of their universe, and I got to take care of them in the very physical way required of preschoolers and sick kids.
P.S. Unfortunately, I think we all may have to pay for my earlier sentiments. A friend just called to tell me that a barf bug is going around and, as if on cue, my dearest threw up her apple sauce. ARGHH, how could I have tempted fate? My grandmother was right: be careful what you wish for, your wishes may just turn around and throw up on you.
Update April 2015; originally published 2008. Image credit: Peter & Francesca