Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Up with the Sickness

A lot of people enjoy falling asleep to music.  Still others fall asleep to the television.  I know I have been lulled into a trance by the occasional soft glow of an infomercial in the wee hours a time or two.  I am also one of the many in this world who are soothed by the sound of a steady rainfall.  I find such a natural sleep soundtrack particularly relaxing.

I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys being whisked off to dreamland to the musical accompaniment of multiple children coughing incessantly.

I used to think that the worst sound to try and fall asleep to was chirping birds.  In my semi-youth, before I had become a father, I would return home after a long night out and be reminded that I had been out a bit too long by the judgmental song of that single robin that always seem to perch right outside my bedroom window.  No amount of pressure applied to the pillows over my ears could keep out its piercing call, which I am pretty sure could be translated to mean, “You know, some people have to work in the morning.”

Nowhere, in the great handbook of parenthood, was it mentioned the guilt that the sound of your offspring hacking their lungs out in the next room would generate.  Never was I warned that, despite the fact that there is little you can do about it, hearing such intense discomfort would lead you to the brink of insomnia induced insanity.

As a parent, you feel absolutely helpless when your kids are sick.  You can take them to the doctor, you can give them medicine, but at some point, you just have to let their still-developing immune systems work it out in their own.  You cross your fingers and hope that it will not last much longer, but at some point the sad, tired eyes and the announcements of, “I don’t feel good,” tug at your heartstrings.

You hear them cough through the night.  You wake up when you here them rush to the bathroom and rub their backs during upchuck sessions.  During the worst, most sleep deprived moments, you struggle to keep your cool and find yourself wanting to shout at them, “Stop coughing!” as if they have made a distinct choice to keep you up all night.

But you manage to remain compassionate.  You remember that, as exhausted as you may be, it does not compare to the way they feel.  You stick with it and tell them, “It’s okay,” when they don’t quite make it to the toilet with their hands over their mouth.  You pat their heads instead of shaking them by the shoulders when they beckon you out of bed for a glass of water.

And when they wake up one day that feels like a year later and say, “I’m feeling better,” it all seems worth it.  When they want to play some catch out on the front lawn because they have missed being outdoors for the past few days, everything in the world seems right again.

Then, when they miss the popup that your threw because their eyes are still blurry and watery and the ball hits them in the face, the guilt starts all over again.

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