I have written extensively in this forum about what a big, whiny baby I am when I am sick. It is well documented that I suck at being sick. Well . . . my wife calls it being sick. I think of it as a close encounter with my mortality and myself as a victim of plague and Ebola and other maladies introduced to me by my children via their poison snot. It all depends on perspective I guess. The truth is that I would rather go through a hundred bouts of the sniffles and various bugs rather than see my kids get sick.
I hate seeing my happy little guys turn into immobile balls of sadness. Don’t get me wrong, they are much better at being sick than I am. Both boys have been sick for the last two days and neither of them has requested a priest or asked to update their wills. So . . . they are ahead of their Dad in that respect. I am convinced that my wife doesn’t understand the depths of my condition when I get sick. She says she understands perfectly . . . wonder what she means by that.
Maybe the fact that they are such good little men when they are sick is what makes it so heart wrenching. Both boys came home from school on Friday with scratchy throats, but seemed to be fighting it off. We were suspicious because Eli’s appetite started dropping off. Charlie managed to keep eating even when he had a fever . . . it takes more than a raised body temp to keep him off his food. It took us awhile to realize that Charlie was a little more advanced in his situation. He went through his no appetite part late last week. Saturday afternoon, Eli pretty much stopped eating. I am not sure you understand how profound and alarming it is to hear Eli say no to a snack or a meal. He said no to a snack and I was trying to decide whether to rush him to the hospital or clear a landing area for the helicopter . . . you know, weighing the pros and cons of each action. His mom took the phone out my hand and got us all calmed down. I wasn’t sure why she wasn’t panicking over the no appetite thing, but hey . . . she usually knows what she is doing when I try to call the helicopter so we went with her course of action. Still, I made sure I had the helicopter number on speed dial.
The boys weren’t feeling too bad Sunday, but we skipped hockey practice. We took a quick trip to the store. When we came back Eli climbed into his mom’s lap on the couch and bedded down. That isn’t really unusual. He does that all the time . . . at bedtime. This was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I casually mentioned helicopters but we went with over the counter medicine instead. Several minutes later I heard really excited voices coming from the living room as Eli vomited all over the couch. We got him cleaned up and put him in his jammies and applied liberal amounts of hugs. The Rest of Sunday was spent with boys on couches under big blankets.
We lucked out a little bit because there was no school yesterday. My wife volunteered to help at a function on MLK Day, so the boys and I stayed home and recovered. Charlie took to his bed and Eli planted himself on the couch. After a little while Eli asked for a snack. His eyes were a little clearer and his fever was down. He asked for a patella sandwich. Relax. Knee cap isn’t on the menu here. That is how he says Nutella. He wanted a Nutella sandwich, which I gladly prepared while I pondered how a kid would be able to say ‘patella’ but not ‘Nutella’.
He picked at his sandwich a little then ate the whole thing along with some juice. Parenting win! He asked if he could go downstairs and play XBox while I worked. I set him up in his special XBox chair in the Man Cave. He was a little cold so I put one of the dedicated Man Cave blankets around him. He was thrilled to find that the controller worked even when it was covered by a blanket. I rubbed his head and walked into my office.
“Dad,” came a little voice from the Man Cave. “I kinda feel better.”
I smiled and did whatever it is I do at this computer while he blasted things and then scored touchdowns in the Man Cave. I even heard an occasional laugh. I went upstairs briefly to check on Charlie. He was wrapped in blankets next to the big couch watching a movie on somebody’s iPad. I am not sure whose. We are kind of communal when it comes to the iPads. At least the boys are communal . . . the lines of ownership have blurred a little.
I went back downstairs and got back to work. After a little while I noticed that there was no noise coming from the Man Cave. I looked behind me and Eli was laying on the treadmill with his favorite blanket ‘Night Night’ wrapped around his head. He wasn’t asleep, but his eyes were a little glassy. His fever was back. I asked him why he didn’t say something to me.
“You were busy,” he said, thrusting a guilty dagger into my heart. “And I am fine laying here . . . on the treadmill.” The dagger twisted. I pulled him into my lap. We had cuddles and hugs and talked about how I should wait until mommy got home to call the helicopter. We went upstairs. Mommy came home and we had more medicine and lots more hugs and lots of sleep. Both boys ate a little dinner, but mostly there were sad looks. Charlie seemed to be getting better but he is a little harder to read than Eli.
Eli and Charlie both went to bed willingly, which ordinarily would cause a panic in our house. That just doesn’t happen. Normally the boys become mixture of Clarence Darrow and F. Lee Bailey, picking apart our feeble bedtime arguments with logic and counter-arguments. Occasionally the will go all Marx and Engels and denounce set bedtimes as a bourgeois concept meant to subjugate the proletariat. Not last night. The went upstairs and went to bed. Eli woke up about 4 am and proclaimed himself cured. We proclaimed him still sleepy. His mother used her force of will to make him go back to sleep. He woke up about 6:30 in a state of relapse. I went into Charlie’s room and pulled the dogs off of him. Both Bone and Abby sleep on top of Charlie. Underneath I found Charlie sleeping hard. If he was sleeping any harder he would have had a chalk outline. He exuded heat as I gently nudged him awake. He growled deep in his throat. I asked him how he felt. More growls. Actually this is not abnormal at all. Charlie doesn’t just sleep . . . he grabs sleep, slaps it around and forces it to make him a sandwich. He commits fully to sleeping.
Eventually we got both boys downstairs. Eli threw up taking his medicine and Charlie cleaned it up without being asked. These are both very unusual behaviors. Charlie objects to pushing in Eli’s chair at the table or picking up a toy that Eli might have left on the bedroom floor. Cleaning up the gross Hansel and Gretel trail that Eli left between the kitchen and the bathroom was way out of character. Both boys got to stay home from school today. My wife left shortly thereafter with her emotions mixed between being relieved to get to go to work and sadness that she had to leave her babies. Mostly sadness. The boys were less than thrilled as well. They love Dad, but Mommy makes things all better . . . it is simply the way of things.
Eli has managed to eat some crackers this morning and Charlie is taking a hard nap. My wife just texted that her throat hurts and she doesn’t feel well. I am starting to feel a little under the weather myself . . . I wonder what plague feels like.
Thanks for reading and sharing. I’ll talk to you again soon on This Side of the Diaper. Check us out at