Saturday, March 27, 2010

Can We Reschedule Your Cold To Next Thursday?

Kids only get sick when you think you can coast another day or two without anything going wrong. You’re down to your last pair of socks, low on toilet paper, deprived of sleep. You’re stretching yourself thin, knowing those days off are coming and you put off chores and day to day responsibilities because you’re worn out. You plan on catching up soon and that’s when it happens.

The next thing you know, that eight unbroken hours of sleep you’d been looking forward to for the last two weeks gets broken. There’s this sad little face staring into yours as you open your eyes. You don’t remember how you woke up and at times like this it seems there may be some sort of mental link your child has with you.

Wake up, father. It’s me. Don’t be startled. I’m in your mind. I won’t tell anyone about the dream you were having if you get me a glass of water and let me climb in between you and mom for the rest of the night. Agreed?

That’s what happens if you’re lucky. Of course, it could be the unmistakable sound of barfing that wakes you up. Then you hope that it’s landing on an acceptable target or at least an expendable one, like something you can wrap into several layers of plastic bags and throw straight into the trash.

Either way, from that point on, all plans change. That pile of dishes you were putting off is going to start to smell like old milk. The garbage is not going to accept that one last wadded up paper towel you want to cram into the corner of the bag. You will run out of socks and you will find yourself wearing those old pairs of underwear that you were going to throw out but saved because, for some reason, you couldn’t escape the images in your head of some sort of underwear shortage in the future.

Sleep will seem so far away, like the Grand Canyon when you’re actually standing on the rim. You know it’s right there in front of you, but it still seems so far off and unreal. When you do manage to sink into that deep, blissful sleep, you are bound to be woken by requests for water or coughing.

Timing is everything. This is why I’m convinced that part of the evolution of bacteria and viruses has been a timed release mechanism. These diseases have developed a sense for when their host or their host’s parents are least able to combat them. That’s when they spring.

Also, the children always seem to be attacked first in a household. I don’t think this is because of conventional reasons, being at school or not having built up an immunity to different strains. I think these sicknesses are evil. I’m picturing a green gaseous cloud with a sharp-toothed grin and thick V-shaped eyebrows that meet in the middle who, though cartoonish in appearance, is still menacing. Close your eyes for a second and picture it with me.

Yes, these things have studied us and know that, even though that little one is the smallest in the house, he’s the one that has the biggest influence on everybody else’s daily activities. They watch us and see our weaknesses. Okay, picture that evil gas cloud again and now he’s looking in the window (all peeping tom and creepy) and maybe he’s even taking down notes. Maybe he even has his own covert van that he’s conducting surveillance from. Come to think of it, give him a dark mustache and have it curl on the ends while you’re at it. Anyway, it knows that if I wake up and say I have a sore throat, nobody is really going to care. That’s why it goes after the little ones first, because by the time it’s done with them, the adults are on the ropes and ready to pull their hair out.

And for some reason, this evil disease cloud guy has a real problem with me getting anything done. It’s obvious because he decides to act on days when I had some activity planned. Inevitably, the day I was planning on waking up early to get some things done around the house or finally finish a long forgotten project is the day I spend at the doctor’s office instead or walking up and down the cold medicine aisle at the drug store to find the cherry, not the grape. I think he gets a kick out of knowing I’ve been too tired to get to the store and likes watching me separate two ply toilet paper into one ply to make that final roll last a little longer.

Well, good thing I have nothing at all to do tomorrow. Tomorrow, I have cleared my entire schedule just to deal with my kids being sick. That ought to fool him.

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