Yes, the Influenza A has kicked us around like a red-rubber playground ball at recess time, but without the Fun Factor. And I think we may even be covered with muddy shoe marks.
And when I say that it’s kicked us around, I really mean us, because it doesn’t matter that only the boy is suffering from the official diagnosis, which was determined by uniting one of his boogers with a chemical solution in Dr. B’s office on Saturday morning. Influenza A has involved all three of us Musketeers this weekend, because of NO SLEEP and ALL THE CLOROXING and STROKING OF THE HAIR and RUBBING OF THE BACK and WONDERING WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MAKE THE BOY WANT TO SOAK IN THE TUB AT 4:50 ON A MONDAY MORNING.
(Does 4:50 even count as morning? Isn’t that still, technically, THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?)
The virus struck our house somewhere around 11:30 on Friday night, when the boy complained that OH MY WORD, HIS HEAD! His head was throbbing and exploding, and did I have a Tylenol tablet the size of an adult guinea pig that he could take?
At 2 AM that night, the boy was up out of bed again, informing me that he’d just had a dream in which we were all at church, and that Pastor John had announced from the pulpit that gigantic fire ants were surrounding the building, and that the menacing insects (which were, apparently, two hundred and eighty times their normal size) were after the boy, and could I just come get into bed with him, until he went back to sleep because he was scared? And also because he was freezing! Just plum freezing! Since the kid was sleeping in nothing but his jammy bottoms, and since all of his bedding was in a snarled mess on the floor, I simply assumed that ALL THE FREEZING was due to the fact that he’d been uncovered in the middle of the winter when the temperature was hovering around the zero mark. It never occurred to me that the fire ants were the fever and all the freezing was due to the chills, because, really, the only thing that ever occurs to me at 2 AM is simply WHY AM I OUT OF BED AGAIN?
(Mother of the Year, 2011. Right here.)
So I covered him up, crawled into bed with him, and assured him that giant fire ants were not out to get us, and even if they were out to get us, Daddy would clobber them and throw their hind ends on the Traeger for dinner, after soaking them in a soy-sauce-and-ginger marinade. He was asleep five minutes later, and I went back to my own bed.
And then, the boy was up at 6:00 Saturday morning, informing me that he was ill! Just plum ill! And I pretty much knew that he was, because by 7:30 AM he was on the floor of his bathroom, hugging the potty and unloading the remnants of his dinner from Friday night.
(Mexican Lasagna is now dead to him. Forever. It’s hard to shoot a black bean out your nose and maintain a friendship with it.)
Between 7:30 AM and 7:30 PM on Saturday, the boy threw up twenty-three times, and he slept for nine hours.
And we have seventeen steps in the staircase that leads down to our family room in the basement.
Really, I don’t count everything. I don’t think my OCD is quite that bad. It’s just that I somehow managed to keep track of how many times I held the boy’s forehead and rubbed his back while he dry-heaved and broke all the little blood vessels around his eyeballs, and I know how many stairs I have to climb from our front door to the refrigerator, when I’ve purchased $220 worth of groceries for the family that requires fourteen trips, and when I begin thinking that I will simply feed them air, which weighs significantly less than canned goods and twelve-packs of Vernor’s Ginger Ale.
On Sunday morning, I got up and put on my Cloroxing Outfit: a pair of white flannel pajama bottoms that are covered with cartoon cows and actually have the word COWABUNGA printed on them, and an old Drexel University T-shirt, where Hubs’ sister used to teach, and which is covered in splotches of purple plumbing primer, because Hubs was apparently wearing it while he was cursing the pipes one day. Both of these things are ten years old (not Hubs — the pajama bottoms and the T-shirt). It is my go-to outfit when I have the gallon-size jug of Clorox out. I didn’t shower on Sunday morning, either. I simply washed my face, scraped my hair back into a ponytail and donned The Outfit, because I was All Business.
Hubs and I busied ourselves scrubbing every square inch of surface area that the boy had come into contact with, and I spilled nary a drop of Clorx on my clothes, because I was in The Outfit. If I wear anything else, it doesn’t matter how careful I try to be; I will slop the bleach everywhere, and I will plum ruin the fabric, which will cause Severe Anger to flare up inside of me. But, when I wear my Cloroxing clothes, I don’t get anything on them, which is exactly how Murphy wrote it out to be in his grand book of big laws.
At 10 AM on Sunday morning, the boy put in a request for fish sticks, because he was starving. Hubs and I tried to talk him out of the fish sticks, telling him that his tummy was fragile and vulnerable and also very delicate, and DIDN’T HE JUST WANT SOME JELL-O OR APPLESAUCE?
He wanted the fish sticks, and he promised us that his stomach would rebel against the raspberry Jell-O cups in our refrigerator, and that if he ate a piece of toast, it would end up in the five-gallon, bright-orange Home Depot bucket sitting beside him, and that he didn’t want toast to be dead to him forever because of it. The fish sticks, he said, would stay down. The fish sticks, he said, were the only things in the entire universe which he would be able to eat with success. The fish sticks, he said, were his heart’s desire, and why on earth couldn’t his parents grant him this wish while he was hovering around death’s doorstep?
Because I do not wear my Cloroxing outfit into public places, and because I didn’t want to interrupt Hubs from all his work with the Clorox (knowing that I’d never get Hubs BACK to working with the Clorox, if he was distracted from it), I texted Sister and said, “Listen. The boy wants fish sticks. When you wrap things up at church, will you stop at the store and buy us a box?”
Sister had her phone on the silent mode, and she never thought to check her texts. By 12:30, I realized that no fish sticks were coming, and I praised Jesus greatly for this, because I knew that they weren’t the FOOD OF CHOICE for one who has thrown up twenty-three times the day before and who could not get four steps away from the Home Depot bucket.
At 12:45, the boy re-emerged from his cocoon on the sofa and said in a shaky voice, “Please! I need some fish sticks!”
So Hubs went out, because Hubs had showered on Sunday, and because Hubs’ outfit was so much more attractive than mine was, and because Hubs’ hair looked a hundred times better than mine did, even though I had not used the Curls Galore.
And four minutes after he left our house on Mission Fish Sticks, we had a phone call from the grandparents, who were just checking in, and who wanted to know if they could get us anything.
Yes. Fish sticks. Only Hubs has gone out just now to do just that.
As soon as I hung up the phone, it rang again. Two more times, actually. Both calls were from good friends of mine, who were calling to check on the boy and to ask if we needed anything.
Yes. Fish sticks. Only Hubs has been gone for fifteen minutes now, and I’m sure he’s already at the store, looking in the frozen food section for deep-fried carp nuggets, but maybe I could use some more Clorox, and maybe they could see if it was sold in fifty-gallon drums.
It was exactly as Murphy wrote his law to be.
And yes, for the record, the boy threw his fish sticks up on Sunday, and it took every fiber of my being to practice Extreme Grown-Up Maturity and not call out in a sing-song voice, “TOLD YOU SO! TOLD YOU SO! TOLD YOU SO!”
So people, that was how our weekend panned out. We managed to stay one orange Popsicle away from having a bed with buttons and a pole with an IV bag attached to it. Because of that one orange Popsicle, Dr. B assured us that we could stay at home and not get our insurance overly involved in the situation.
And by 8:15 this morning, I had already RE-CLOROXED the two bathrooms in our house. By 8:45, the boy was throwing up again. By 9:00, I had slung the Clorox everywhere AGAIN.
Yes. I’m still in The Outfit.
Yes. It’s Monday now.
Yes. I am still a vision.
Yes. The boy has watched twenty-two million hours’ worth of TV today.
Yes. He opted for the raspberry Jell-O cup this morning and another orange Popsicle, instead of the fish sticks.
Yes. He threw up the raspberry Jell-O, exactly as he predicted.
Yes. I used still more Clorox bleach.
Yes. My house is absolutely clean enough for Kate to come on over and show me what she and Prince William are considering for wedding decorations.
Yes. I wish I had a black and white dress like Reese Witherspoon wore to the Academy Awards last night.
Yes. I wish I had a red gown like Sandra Bullock wore to the Academy Awards last night.
I think it goes without saying that their gowns are far more beautiful than my Cowabunga bottoms and Drexel T-shirt.
Which I continue to wear.