Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sniffle. Cough. Moan.

As I look back over posts from the past, I notice that many of my family-related posts seem to deal with disease and pestilence. I blame the kids, of course. No, really. Kids and disease just seem to go together, and parents have to accept that. We know, for instance, that the moment our kids go outside (and, even though we homeschool, we do occasionally send them outside) they will probably glom onto whatever passing virus is in the air. This will touch off a cycle of coughing, sniffling, wheezing, sneezing, and fevers that will be passed from family member to family member and may last well into the next presidential administration.

The so-called Circle of Life.

Anyway, I don't mean to grouse so much about it. For as long as my kids are under my care, I deal with it. I, the Man of the House, the Lord of the Manor, will deal with all menaces to my family's well-being. I will get sick. The idea is that, as the Examplar in our home, I can't ask my family to do anything that I'm not willing to do myself.

(Note: This does not apply to Mrs. Woody's recent hospital visit that effectively cancelled our summer last year. I would gladly have offered to go to the hospital in her place, but the insurance would never have covered it. So I was willing, but it just wasn't practical. See?)

Right now, for example, the Woodyettes are vying for Most Miserable Creature on the Planet status. Jelly has already been through her cycle, and now it's the Doodle's turn. I have to say, the girls both have creative ways of putting on their Miserable routines. Jelly, for instance, is the worrier. She's the one who will ultimately drive her doctors into early retirement by grilling them on every little symptom she feels. "But, Doctor, what about those little scaly things I just noticed on my hands?" "Miss Woodyette, really, it's just dry skin. Drink more water and use lotion." I'm not saying she's a hypochondriac, mind you. I'm just saying it doesn't take much to put her in Full Alert Medical Mode. At this tender age, most of that worry is connected with trips to (you guessed it!) the Doctor's office. She views trips to the Doctor's office in about the same vein as deployment to Afghanistan.

Doodle, on the other hand, is one to milk the situation. And she is a consumate pro:

[sniiiiff, cough, sniiiiiiff, cough, low moaning noises]

Mommy: Whassa matter, Doodle?

Doodle: [weakly] I don't feel so good, Mommy!

[Sound of Mommy-heart melting into bright red puddle]

Mommy: Come have a snuggle, Love.

While Jelly will kvetch endlessly about how much fun she's missing by being sick, Doodle wonders how long she can get away with vegetating on the couch or in her bed. If I send two sick children to bed on any given evening, the chances are about 75% that I will find a child on the couch in the morning, and that child will look an awful lot like my youngest child. Only miserable.

The irony of the Most Miserable Creature on the Planet contest is, of course, that neither child stands a chance. That crown will always be in the possession of Daddy, who can out-miserable the entire family. I should, too: I practiced long and hard as a child to perfect these skills. When Daddy is miserable, the world as we know it comes to a complete stand-still:

Daddy: Yep, just as I thought, it's diarrhea. Probably dehydrated, too. That would explain why my forehead is hot enough to fry eggs and my lips look like the Grand Canyon. [Various moans and groans while Daddy shuffles painfully to the couch, where he will drop roots and sprout leaves.]

Mommy: Poor thing. Maybe you should lie down?

Daddy: Not sure I'd make it to the bedroom, Dear, but thanks for the suggestion...

Speaking of Mommy, she's the only one who's never allowed to get sick. Mama may feel like death warmed over, but kids still need to be fed, Hubby still needs to get that project done for work, and Mommy herself feels far too guilty that she's not touched the kitchen all day to allow herself to have a rest in bed.

This is not to say that Daddy is entirely heartless. Hey, I can heat up a can of soup with the best of them. If I can find it, that is.

"Honey, are you sure it's in the can cupboard?"

"Pretty sure, Bud."

"Well, I don't see it. I don't suppose you know where the Lipton soup is?"

[Sound of Mommy dragging herself into the kitchen to prove to newly-blind husband that the soup was in the cupboard all along.]

I exaggerate a bit, I guess. I'm not as bad as all that, and my girls really are fighting the crud right now. Especially the Doodle. As I type this, she's just snuggled herself into a fitful sleep while watching Mommy play with Jelly's Nintendo DS. Mommy probably only started playing with it to entertain the Doodle, but now she's hooked on the game and is studiously trying to figure out how to get her character to cooperate with her desire to accomplish some task or other.

Guess I'd better go get the Doodle and put her to bed. Probably find her on the couch in the morning.


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