There’s nothing quite like an interminable week spent with my brood to remind me why I don’t homeschool. Sprinkle the aforementioned with an unmerciful bout of the flu and I’m that much surer I made the right decision.
Indeed, last week was ugly. For all intents and purposes, it qualified as one of those unspeakably unpleasant parenting events I hope never to revisit. That said, there were fevers and sore throats, dizzy spells and delirium, stabbing pains from head to toe and waves of uncontrollable shivers that seized their smallish bodies seemingly without end. There were moments, too, during which the afflicted pair demanded proof that they would, in fact, survive the dreadful ordeal. And because misery loves company, a profusion of sneezes, debilitating headaches and seal-inspired coughs joined the medley of horribleness that befell my unfortunate bunch.
Despite their woeful situation, they somehow summoned the strength to grouse with one another, which, of course, multiplied the joy felt by all. Not. For the record, I witnessed some of the most absurd bickering matches heretofore known to man—ones over who had spiked the highest temperature, who could more skillfully imitate a basset hound on command and who could heap the foulest mound of Kleenexes upon the floor following a sustained fit of sneezing.
The jury is still out on that one.
Considerable time was spent holed up on the couch-turned-sickbay, too, buried beneath mountains of blankets, clad in sweats, socks, Sponge Bob whateverness, a fishing hat for one and, at one point, mittens for the other. Not surprisingly, a certain sock monkey, a basketball and an armadillo named Frank were also requested—and dutifully fetched, I might add. The suggestion of naps, fitful at best, took place there in the thick of their tormented state.
Thankfully, there were times when the gods of bodily ailments smiled upon my progenies (i.e. the brief yet delicious slivers of time during which they didn’t feel as if they’d been hit by a bus that happened to be transporting a small herd of elephants). That, of course, is when they became hopelessly immersed in the ridiculousness that is YouTube (read: Harry Potter’s Puppet Pals). Naturally, an embarrassment of time was also invested while Googling the bejesus out of weird animal sounds—in the name of comparing and contrasting said sounds with their incessant barking. Like a fool, I offered my two cents—suggesting that their hideous coughs most closely resembled a cross between a depressed sea lion and the aforementioned basset hound.
Mostly, though, my function was to make voluminous quantities of chicken soup—soup that promised to tame the ills that besieged my crew. Just as it is every other time someone in this household begins to sniffle and sneeze, hack or hurl. Aside from constructing cozy nests upon the sofa, feeling foreheads and fetching whateverness day and night, I suppose the soup gig is my so-called bailiwick—not to be confused with my calling as the celebrated shoe-picker-upper, toilet-flusher and Homework Nazi.
Unlike so many of my pedestrian functions as a parent and caregiver, this one is far from thankless. Over the years, I’ve been showered with high praise and a wealth of validation for my efforts in the kitchen like: “Mom, your soup is so…SLURPABLE! You’re awesome! Can I have some more?!” Even the child who isn’t particularly fond of soup will humor me sample some when she’s reached rock bottom with a cold or the flu. Furthermore, my oldest has gone so far as to shame me into making her a batch to remedy all her ills, leaving a sad little trail of posts on my Facebook wall. I should be flattered, I suppose.
But perhaps the strangest bit of critical acclaim I’ve received to date for my soup was a request for the slurpable stuff from one of the above mentioned weirdish children.
“I’d like some for breakfast, Mom. Cold. With a straw, please.” A request that was (and continues to be) duly granted.
Once again, I think I ought to be flattered.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel