Every year, I think, “Why is it that I always feel vaguely apprehensive and dreadful of January and early February?” and then one of my kids pukes and I remember.
The Sickness has arrived.
It never fails. Every single year, the germ carousel starts in our house, with everyone getting on and off every few days. It’s basically an endless parade of sore throats, mystery fevers, barf, and a general feeling of shittiness. Bella has this terrible tradition of being lethargically sick on her birthday, as it falls during this time frame. We should receive a reduced rate at preschool for the next two months because they know there’s no damn way she’s showing up for the majority of the classes.
Phaedra has been this year’s winner, though. She’s probably missed at least a week’s worth of school in the last three weeks, between colds and fevers and scary-ass mystery rashes and itchy eyes and random puking spells and antibiotic reactions and THAT’S SERIOUSLY ENOUGH SYMPTOMS NO MAS. One day, we thought we were done with The Sickness, and had the balls to drop her off at school like nothing was wrong. An hour and a half later, we got the call: she had a fever of 101 degrees, and would you maybe like to come pick up your sick daughter, you irresponsible assholes?
(They left off that last part, but when your kid doesn’t even make it past breakfast and the Pledge of Allegiance before they haul her contagious ass to the office, that’s kind of how you feel.)
I will say one thing about all this sick business — not having to drop kids off at school in the morning is pretty rad. I can sleep in a little later than usual, and worrying about getting one person out the door on time, i.e. me, is waaaay easier than getting two or three people out the door. I get dressed, pack my lunch, and then I’m all, “GOODBYE, SICKIES! I’M OFF TO ENJOY MY DAY OF DEALING WITH NON-SICK ADULTS!
The Sickness isn’t just for kids, though — ooooooh no! Every morning, I play this fun game where I try to guess whether or not I’m going to get sick that day from whatever rogue germ the kid I slept with the night before is incubating. I remember spending one January evening a few years ago with my pregnant ass firmly planted on the couch in the student lounge at work, trying not to doze too deeply as I monitored the traffic going in and out of the library through the glass door while keeping another eye on The Biggest Loser through the haze of yet another kid-induced flu fever. Obviously, I had lost the game that morning.
However, I’m reminded every year that there are no winners in this shitty month-long game. There’s the coughers, and then there’s the coughed-upon. You might trade roles once in a while, but the game’s not really over until everyone’s had a turn playing each part. And, just like global thermonuclear war, the only way to win is not to play at all. Which, based on the amount of germs these kids are being bombarded with, isn’t very fucking likely.
So, see ya next year, Sickness! Though, to be quite frank, I actually would prefer a nice game of chess.