Have you ever seen the commercial where the parent pops his or her head into a room announcing they are so sorry but they’re going to need a sick day? And then the camera pans wide and surprise! It’s not their boss they’re speaking to, it’s their child. Hilarity ensues for a brief moment, and the omniscient announcer soberly intones what we all know: parents do not get sick days*, so plan on drugging yourself up as best you can because your kid doesn’t care. At all.
They do not care if we are hobbling from room to room in a crusty bathrobe, burning with fever, trying to force down a dose of Tamiflu so we can – for the love of all things holy – shorten the duration of whatever bubonic plague our children have brought home with them. Because schools are petri dishes and we are old and will get everything.
The rub here is that no matter how ill we are, we still have to make sure the kids get fed, bathed, dressed, transported, and remain adequately supervised. Or at the very least, we must keep them alive.
A few years ago I succumbed to the flu. High fever, aches, the whole sick enchilada. Because my husband works out of town during the week and I did not want to be Typhoid Mary and ask friends for help, I was left to my own devices for keeping the kids alive. On the worst day, I didn’t leave my couch except to rustle up food in the kitchen in semi-regular intervals, and leave it out for my boys.
Apparently, this was too much for one of my young sons to process. I rarely get sick, and our household is typically buzzing with frenetic energy. At one point he came into the living room and sat down next to me, gently placing his hand on my shoulder. And, because I am an optimistic sucker, I immediately thought, Oh my god. My son is spilling with empathy and compassion. What a dear, sweet boy. He probably wants to make me some tea or something. Six years old and he is already exuding character.
He leaned in with a very serious expression and whispered, “Mom. Why are you being so lazy?”
So lay it on us, PlanHero nation. How do you manage to keep the house from burning down when you have to take a sick day?
*when I searched the internet for an image to accompany this article and typed in ‘mom sick on couch’ the results proved my point. I got pictures of loving moms holding their sick kiddos, a graceful hand on their child’s forehead or holding a thermometer. I got pictures of young, pregnant moms looking vaguely upset over what I can assume was morning sickness. And every single picture had a white couch. A pristine white couch with nothing save for a tasteful vase of peonies on the adjacent (and clean) coffee table. Nothing with a dirt-colored sectional piled with laundry and used tissues.