Illness with Children: A Timeline

Prologue: Children start acting crazy. This is a tough one to nail down, because children can start acting crazy for all kinds of reasons, or for no reason at all. It is the child’s prerogative to act crazy. The parent is there merely to witness.

A few days (or hours) after the children start acting crazy, you see it. The first dribble of snot. Suddenly, the crazy-acting has a reason and you feel better for about 30 seconds, because you love reason. Then you remember that snot means sick. Then you wish it was just unreasonable crazy after all.

Day one: The nose drips and is blown, drips and is blown. You are careful to wash your hands after each blow, to keep surfaces disinfected, to keep the second child away from the sick child.

Day one and a quarter:
As fucking if.

Day one and a half: Second child’s nose begins to run.

Day two: Just after you finish congratulating yourself on how little snot there is in your house, the floodgates open and snot pours forth to douse everything with its foul, germy sliminess. I’m sorry. It’s true.

Day three:
Wipe, blow, toss, wipe, blow, toss. What’s that? You’ve noticed that hypothetical-you has stopped washing her hands and disinfecting surfaces? Yes. You know there is no way in hell you are going to prevent the spread of this illness.

Day four: You stay home. You can’t take two germy, expectorating preschoolers to a park where there will be other children touching the same surfaces. You just CAN’T bring this much snot into some other, innocent family’s life.

Day five: Fuck it. Their fevers are broken. Who can stay home with this much snot? And whining. And in the 18 month old’s case, evasive tactics that result in every tissue or cloth coming his nose’s way actually jabbing him in the eye and the snot going all over your arm.

Day six: Rules are out the window. A second TV program this morning? Will it keep them quiet? All right then.

Day seven: Miraculously, you are still not sick. The children are slowly getting better. You no longer have to pry them from their pillows with nail polish remover and a spatula every morning.

Day eight: Will the snot ever end? You suddenly remember that your (all?) children take ten days to become completely snot free. You wait.

Day nine: You are exhausted. And your throat is a little sore. Probably because of all the dust in the house. You are convinced you have SUPERIMMUNITY * and will never get sick again. Because if you could survive that much snot, you can survive anything.

* despite ample evidence to the contrary, where you constantly get half-sick so that you can still function as a parent but not be beyond the suffering of your children. I had no idea how utterly frustrating it is to be half-sick. I just wanna sneeze and cough and be ill and be DONE WITH IT. Ahem.

Day ten: Right on time, the first afflicted child is fully healed.

Day eleven: You feel as though a big foot is standing on you. And your skin aches. How can skin … oh. Dammit.

Day twelve
: The children are healed and moving on to developmental milestones. They have discovered that you are weak and they are running roughshod all over you.

Day thirteen:
You can’t move. More TV anyone?

Day fourteen: Your partner can’t move either. Luckily it’s the weekend.

Day fifteen:
You still have no snot. How are you on the fourth day of your illness and there is still no snot? How long did the kids feel like shit before the snot came? How long were they acting crazy before the snot came? Who the hell can keep track?

Day sixteen:
You are wishing for your head to gum up with all that snot because it will mean that you have the same illness the children had, which in turn means that you don’t have something entirely different that they can catch and then start this whole bad trip over again.

Day seventeen: The snot comes. You are miserable and relieved like when your period comes five days late.

Alternate ending: the snot doesn’t come. The baby kisses you on the mouth and a few days later, you start back at the prologue.

(We are currently at day sixteen. On the bright side, if we do all have the same illness, I think it’s probably H1N1, cuz SA said he read somewhere that All Your Flus Are Belong to H1N1 which means YAY we didn’t die from it. Er, yet. On the not so bright side, ugh, it’s been a long couple of weeks.)

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