I find it necessary to preface this post by emphasizing that I am a great caregiver when my kids are sick. Not only do I perform the duties expected of me, I perform them lovingly, babying my children more than necessary, caressing their head when they vomit, assuring them its ok if they shit their pants. I make a big deal out of how sorry I feel for them. These are all the things I want someone to do for me when I am sick and I think they enjoy my little flourishes.
However, after 8 years of tending to cold weather ailments, I know how contagious these bugs are. I know what a special level of hell it is to have one child barfing all over the carpet at the exact moment the other one cries out, "Oh no! I don't think that was a fart!" while your own stomach begins to have a not-so-great feeling. I have been there on more than one occasion and I have not enjoyed it. I am not a germophobe in general, in fact, I'm the opposite, the kind of mother than 9 times of of 10 lets her kids eat stuff off the floor, who only half the time remembers to make them wash their hands before dinner, the kind of mom that says OK to the sandbox and doesn't sweat B grade ratings in restaurants I patronize. You could call me a hygiene-hypothesizing laissez-faire slacker or you could call me a filthy slob. Either way, I'm not that worried about germs in general. But as soon as one of my kids gets sick, I get worked up in a hurry. I go into high-alert, mobilize-the-forces, quarantine mode. Like last week, when Primo threw up suddenly.
"We're in lock down," I barked to David, "Prepare the Purell. Get out the medical-grade disinfectant wipes."
These were gifted to me by my mother and they come in very handy when there's a stomach virus afoot.
Once I scoured all the surfaces Primo was likely to have touched or vomited on, I turned my attention to making sure he stayed away from the other children, in particular, the baby.
"What are you doing?" I cried as he walked into the living room and flopped on the sofa. I tried not to sound rebuking, "Why are you on the couch?"
"I want to watch TV," Primo explained.
"Yes, of course, but I have to get your sisters out of here first," I explained, squirting Purell wily-nily on the hands of whoever ambled by.
"You know what would be better, honey?" I told him as I gently led him out the the room by his sleeve while averting my face, "You just curl up in your bed, nice and cozy, and watch the Ipad, With the door closed. And I'll bring you some soup and water, and Gatorade. And you just, just don't move from that area. And try not to touch too much."
Of course, the baby wanted to be wherever her big brother was, so she ended up following Typhoid Marty into Virus Ground Zero, which gave me no choice but to shriek at poor Primo, 'No! Honey, please! Don't let her touch that book you touched." and "Ugh, sweetie! No, no, no! Don't hug your sister! You're a petri dish!"
Then I doused the baby with Purell and I tossed Primo some wet wipes to disinfect his area.
"Mom," he chastised me, "You know what you are?"
I didn't, of course, but I was dying to find out.
Had he not been in maximum-security isolation, I would have kissed him. Instead, we just laughed together, from our separate sides of the door frame.
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