Friday, March 23, 2012

Sick Kid

What do you do when you've got a sick kid and you're a working parent?  There's not much you can do, but call in your relief army and hope for the best.  It broke my heart this morning to have Charlotte sobbing in the nurse's room of our school with a high temperature and saying, "Come home with me, Mama.  Why do you have to stay here with your students?  You're MY mommy!"

I just want to feel better, please!

To put the cherry on the sundae, Charlotte had a speaking part in tonight's whole school production: playing the part of her teacher, Ms. Sheppard.  She's been practicing for weeks, has a brilliant, spot-on costume and has been so excited to have her Daddy and Mommy and Auntie all come watch her in action. Alas, it is likely not to be.  My sweetheart is on his way home now to check in on her: she was crying so hysterically on the phone when he called he decided he had better drop everything and run.

There are a few poignant times I remember being sick in my childhood and missing landmark events: the big one was when I contracted pneumonia over the summer vacation and was hospitalized the night before the week long annual Camp Squeah adventure was to begin.  The cherry on my sundae was that all my other soon-to-be seventh grade friends were at camp so the only visitors I had were my parents and grandparents.  I do remember my Oma Rempel smuggling in a flask of gruene borscht (a very wonderful green barley and potato Mennonite specialty made with buttermilk) and being eternally grateful.  I haven't had a taste for jello or Reuben sandwiches since that stay 35 odd years ago.  I remember having only "baby" books to read and spending long hours watching the TV in the common room, through my window.  I wasn't allowed out of my room because apparently I was highly contagious.  The Flintstones minus sound does not good entertainment make.

Worse than the misery of being sick, however, was the wretched knowledge that all my friends were having fun TOGETHER when I was not.  What wonderful secrets and experiences would they share that I'd never be privy to?  Would my best friends be replaced and I'd be the tagger-alonger?  Might someone get the dreaded period on the trip?  Who would fall in love with whom while I was staring at cheerful, juvenile walls painted with giraffes and zebras?  No safari for you this week, young lady.  Only ice cold baths to bring your temperature down and  trays of tepid, jiggly food served on sickly colored melamine plates and bowls.

My other watershed sick story is when I contracted chicken pox the day of "the talk" at school in 5th grade.  It was the day where the girls were separated from the boys, trooped into some private, dark room and informed of all the indignities their bodies would soon be going through, from sprouting breasts to flowing periods.  I think we even anticipated learning what the s-e-x word actually consisted of.  There was a video from the Canadian National Film Board that would explain all the miracles of womanhood and then a discussion chaired by our teacher, Mrs. Johnston.

Alas, I was never to partake in this momentous day because I woke up covered in pox and an insaned frenzy of itchiness.  While I was being doused with calamine and scratching like a dog with fleas, my friends were giggling together through the most intimate, embarrassing details ears would ever hear.

Of course, I learned bits and pieces of what it was all about through their animated accounts, and my mother chased me around with a little Christian handbook entitled Almost Thirteen for years, trying to induce me to sit down and read it with her.  Over my dead body, I always thought.

So I figured it out in bits and pieces and jits and jogs, but to this day, I wonder if there is some vital piece of information I am missing had I just been able to watch that video and have the debriefing session.

I'm sure Charlotte will recover from her flu in a day or two, but right now I am also sure it feels like the biggest deal in the world, not being the starlet on the stage for a brief moment of glory.  If she's anything like her Mama (and she is), this is a girl destined for the limelight.  To miss out on an opportunity like this can be truly heartbreaking.

It's never fun being a sick kid, but it's ever so much worse being the sick kid who misses the big event.  One of my goals tonight will be to tell Charlotte some of my stories to know she's not alone.  She's soon sure to have a treasure trove of her own disappointments, but it can help to hear other people's misfortunes so you know you're not alone.

I've had a few impatient moments with my kids in the last few days that I regret quite profoundly so it's time for me to cozy up to my sweethearts and take on the role of comforting mama instead of mean, impatient mama.  I'm ready to play nurse and cars and Crazy Eights and even Spider Man on the iPhone if need be.

Sick kids need superhero parents to swoop in and save them. Lucky for them, their Papa is already in position to play the part, and I'm ready to step up, too.

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