Ok, now hear me out.
It’s torture to see my kid uncomfortable, coughing, snotty and exhausted.
I was up for almost three hours last night singing her songs, reading her books and rubbing her back. Obviously, I’d rather have a healthy child. But since catching colds is an inevitable part of her growing a tougher immune system, why not make the best of it?
Again, allow me to clarify, because I’m sure there are some readers out there that skimmed the first paragraph: if Opal’s sickness goes anywhere beyond a common cold, everything that follows goes out the window.
1. Here’s the deal. Regular Life is busy, I don’t care who you are.
I only “work”—massaging my dear troop of old people—eight hours a week while Opal is in preschool. I am with her the rest of the time (except for when she goes to her Grammy’s on Wednesday afternoons). I often think that I would feel less busy if I worked full time. Alas, it’s all relative.
The fact is, a “regular day” is set up so that there are pockets of time to be in unplanned toddler mode—read: playful, creative and led without direction—if we are lucky.
But sick days are irregular in that the whole day is a pocket of time. Work and school are canceled, playdates are canceled. Long, sunny walks (with her in the stroller) are perfect. There is an abundance of time for play and snuggling. For the last two days, our schedule has been wiped clean. And between sneezes, I can see in her wild-eyes that she is enjoying it, too .
Typically, we only have time to play ‘Butterfly Pavilion’ before we must move on to getting dressed and eating (or avoiding eating) breakfast. But on sick days, we get to play ‘Butterfly Pavilion’ and ‘Airplane Trip to Ohio ’ and ‘Nest of Stuffed Buddies’ all in a row! The decadence!
2. When else do I have the time to aimlessly wander through cyberland? Never. But on sick days, I have all sorts of time to surf the Internet as I sit with Opal while she watches episodes of Curious George and Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix.
In the stretch of an afternoon, what I learned includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Nearly 100,000 kids were injured on trampolines in 2009. Yikes. This is forcing me to rethink that as a choice birthday gift for Opal next month.
If I consume a combination of broccoli, green tea extract and spirulina every morning I will not feel like a slug by noon (something tells me I will have more to say on that topic later).
There are not many carseats on Craigslist for sale and there are fewer Victorian-style living rooms chairs that don’t look like they’ve been used as the holding pad for college beer bong parties.
There are some incredible blogs out there. High quality, creative compilations. My dear friend (and frankly, one of the best human beings on the planet), has blown my mind with her home renovations blog.
Speaking in terms of one-blog-to-another, her blog is the Victoria’s Secret silk to my cotton threadbare panties. Steeping in her cyber-mind for the small stretch of time it took for Curious George to cause a mishap and then solve it again left me feeling organized, inspired and detoxified. As if I had organized my closet while sipping wheat grass, all from the comfort of my own couch.
3. Opal snuggled in my lap, wrapped in her fleecy owl blanket, hardly moving, for forty minutes yesterday. The last time she was still for that long was before she could walk. She is now at the age where, although she loves hugs and kisses, she fully resists ceasing to move unless there is pizza and ice cream involved. All photos are blurry. Even when we are reading books, she is worming, bouncing, flipping, and scooting.
This morning, when she was finally ready to get up and move, I felt so satisfied that I considered what it would be like to gently sedate her on occasion to induce more stellar snuggle sessions like that one. But it didn’t take long to deem this a bad idea.
4. Sick day #1 was sunny, but Sick day #2 was rainy. So we holed up on the maroon couch—ground was lava—with a teetering, high pile of books set next to us. She, again, wrapped up in her fleecy owl blanket with her bunny B under-arm as I read for an hour-at-a-time (what a treat!), getting up only to pee and refill our respective cups. I read Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, The Gardener, A Roar of a Snore, Bear Snores On, and Knuffle Bunny, to name a few.
While she rested (she normally no longer naps), I had time to catch up on my issues of New Yorker from the month and stumbled across a poem that knocked my socks off:
A shampooist in an uptown hair salon warns a matron not to lean too far
back on the sink. The salon is being renovated and the sink needs
The shampooist is new. This time last year, she wasn’t a shampooist.
She was a chemist in a country now erased by war.
This is an adventure, the matron observes, gingerly tilting her head back
until it rests on the porcelain.
Yes, an adventure, the shampooist says, reaching for the towel to cushion
Helen Klein Ross (September 9th issue of New Yorker)
5. I have been meaning to clean the humidifier and get Opal’s winter clothes organized for weeks. Done.
God willing, she’ll be back in action by Monday. Jesse and I will stave off the contagions by the power of our Echinacea/Zinc/Mushroom cocktails.
We’ll have a hardier kid and a couple of days under our belts to remind us that we indeed have the power to push the pause button on the rest of the world when necessary.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman