18 September 2014

Me Time

When you’re a family, you share everything. Space, meals, the TV. Good times and bad times. And sickness. Oh, the humanity. The sickness.

Like the world’s worst game of tag, illnesses pass between kids, from kids to parents, from parents to kids. They just tear through the populace like a plague. Literally. You spend so much time teaching your kids to share and then all of a sudden you wish you could make it stop. 

And you can’t.

We had our share of sickness this summer. Having sick kids is pretty horrendous. I mean, more than usual. But at the same time, I am always amazed by how quickly they bounce back from it. Perhaps the clearest indication of a sick kid is watching their energy go from a level of about 5,000 to zero. Immediately. Then it’s always incredible when you are able to give them some relief from their predicament.

Just one dose of Tylenol and suddenly they’re flying off the floor like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, ready to run around and take on the world again. I wish that a single Tylenol did that for me. Maybe I just need to take more of them.

The other amazing (and by amazing, I mean pretty horrible) thing you witness is when your child throws up the first time. Another milestone! But this one you won’t want to document. You’ll want to forget it ever happened, but like a scene from American Horror Story, it’s etched into your brain and you’re unable to banish it.

The horror and shock that comes over a kid when they get sick for the first time looks like it is powerful enough to break their brain. They’re just so . . . surprised by the whole thing.

What is this? their pale, desperate faces seem to be saying. This is possible? Why didn’t anybody warn me about this? I will kill you for allowing this to happen. Oh, look, a squirrel.

Of course, there was one good thing about getting sick this summer. (Or so I thought.) When I came down with something particularly nasty (and it hadn’t come from the kids in the first place), the wife made an executive decision to get them out of the house and away from their ailing father. Protect the children!

Sure, I was laying on the couch under a blanket wishing that I was dead, but at the same time, I suddenly found myself experiencing something I’d almost forgotten existed, something that I was certain had entered the realm of myth, akin to spotting a unicorn or Nessie.

Alone time.

No whining, no diapers, no tugging on my beard. No excitable 2-year-old smacking me in the face. No Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. or insistent pleas to run myself ragged playing our 1,273rd game of tag. The chance to put on an R-rated movie in the middle of the day. Which I promptly did.

And then I noticed something. Or rather, heard something. There was a strange sound that I couldn’t quite place. Something spooky. Eerie.

It was quiet. The house empty. I was alone. And then something even stranger happened. I realized I missed them. I missed them.

Really? I thought. Really?

Little jerkstores. Be glad to be rid of them, don’t count the minutes until they return. But that’s what happened. I’m stuck with these people. And yes, they make me crazy. But I can’t imagine a single day without them. And when they’re not there, I feel kind of lost. Aimless. 

And then of course they’re back and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again and I find myself hoping, wishing again for some kind of terrible illness, the enduring of which seems worth the brief respite of peace and quiet it will afford me. Because I’m a terrible parent. Or maybe just a parent.

I’m going to go with the latter. 

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