Sunday, March 06, 2005


In Which We Welcome You to the House of Cholera...

Oh God, would someone please just fill a tub with Purell and dip me in it?

My son has the stomach flu. To be precise, he has the tail-end of the stomach flu, and I mean that literally.

A few mornings ago, just before his bus arrived, he started complaining of a stomachache. Well I've written enough parenting stories to know what that means: He's being bullied at school, or having some trouble on the bus, or is nervous about the math stuff his teacher is starting in class.

But no, it turned out what his stomachache REALLY meant was that he was T-minus 4 minutes from one of the most spectacular displays of vomiting I have seen since my freshman roommate Bill yarked from the top of a 12-story building.

So it was too bad, really it was, that I had to speed right off to work and leave mop-up duties to Her Beleaguered Self and my daughter (who was so impressed, she went into a kind of sportscaster mode: "Holy cow! Did you--WHOA! Let's see that again!"). The dog, for whom vomiting is something of a hobby, was equally enthusiastic. I did make a point of calling and checking in after lunch, to learn that I was the only one who actually had lunch, and that the bug had progressed Sherman's-march-to-the-sea style on into the other side of the digestive tract.

So the Magazine Mansion has for the past few days been a cross between a Roman-style vomitorium and the House of Cholera. And don't worry: I did my share. I came home early this week so my poor wife could get out and breathe something besides Lysol fumes and well, you know. The other day she had to "run to the post office," which is just down the street. She took our daughter with her. They were gone a long time.

The poor little guy was half-slumped at the kitchen table, a marker in his hand. The kid draws pictures everyday, loves it. That's his mother's influence. In the afternoons, she tries to put the kibosh on TV and funnel his energy towards more productive endeavors (My mom was the same way, which is how I ended up reading magazines to her while she ironed. Later, I started reading her my own stories). My son draws. A lot. May be his Gift, for all I know, because there he was, practically forcing himself upright to finish a picture.

"What are you working on?" I asked.

"It's a picture book about a lynx who lives in a forest of badness and greatness. But then he gets sick and a dinosaur comes and helps him," he explained. Thinking of dinosaurs evidently prompted his next question. "Dad, when you were sick in the olden days, what did you do to feel better?"

"Well, in the olden days, Grandma used to make me soup and toast, which she cut diagonally." I was going to add that our tribe hadn't yet learned to forge edged tools and weapons way back then, so she had to use a really sharp stone to cut the toast, but he was just too sick for me to have even a little fun at his expense.

He made a face when I mentioned the soup and toast. "Yeah, but what did you do when you couldn't eat anything?"

So we spent the rest of the afternoon using my alternative therapy for the flu, which involves watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and reading old Batman comics. Sometimes you just have to put the kibosh on productive endeavors.

He's tons better now (the cartoons/comics protocol is powerful medicine), but man, what an exhausting weekend. I was going to post the first of a new series of random anecdotes, but I'm too tired to think straight.

Which is actually kind of pathetic, considering my wife did most of the work. The other night, she fell asleep before 8, just utterly spent and a little feverish. As I put our daughter to bed, I remarked, "Boy, I wonder if Mom's getting sick."

My little girl looked at me. "I bet it was all that chocolate she ate after we went to the post office," she said soberly.

Apparently I'm not the only one with alternative therapies for dealing with the flu.

Stay well, everyone.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

The other day she had to "run to the post office," which is just down the street. She took our daughter with her. They were gone a long time.This is one of my favorite tricks in marriage. Nice to hear that it's used by others. :)
My mom's prescription for the flu was ginger ale, soda crackers, and Herbie movies... you know... the ones with the white punchbug.
Dear me, what a weekend! Though it did make for a good story.

Okay, so you are an editor at a majorly monthly magazine that often features articles about parenting? I guess that rules out Playboy.

Not that I am trying to guess which magazine it is, or anything.
Sorry, I meant to write "major," not "majorly."
Comics and art as a way of trying to heal up. I had a cold the last week or so. Tried my own home remedy. Have to say, whiskey is not terribly effective. I'll try drawing and the imagination next time.
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