Monday, February 02, 2009

sick house day seven

If I have to be home with a sick boy, again…
… then I will be happy to have a home, so I clean (a bit—let’s not get extreme, here)
… then I will be happy to have a boy I like so much, happy to pour the ginger ale and dole out cough drops, to write down the time he took the medicine, note the next dosage

If I have to be home with a sick boy, at least the boy is feeling better. If I have to be home at least this is the best place for him, and for me. If I have to be tending a needy guy, at least the sun keeps us company, streaming in so warm I need to open the windows on this winter day.

The boy has been sick for a week, and home with me for six days of fever, coughing. Yesterday he sat up without being asked, and walked around, here and there. Last night he slept through the night without needing medicine, without coughing fits, and this morning he woke without a fever—but still very tired. The cough rumbles in his chest.

He sits on the couch sorting baseball cards this morning, after a long absence, and he’s a little miffed that I make him get his own handkerchief, his own cool drink. He asks for a third piece of toast and I fight off a celebratory dance. How long since he asked for food?

And I’m cautiously returning to normal, turning down the level of alarm (he woke at 103 degrees only two days ago, appearing to get worse instead of better). Normal, cooking a normal breakfast instead of catching a bite here and a bite there, between fretting. I think each of us feels like we are coming out of a long dark something, a long worry for me, a long time lying down for him.

My day divides into tasks I can do with a child, and tasks I cannot do with a child. I cannot concentrate to write much—some, and some sorts of writing, but not the real stringing together of thoughts for my academic work. I can take notes, make sketches, read the short stand-alone chapters of MFK Fisher’s Alphabet for Gourmets.

The deadline for the academic paper creeps closer, but it makes no sense to fight what I can do with a child, and what I can’t do with a child. Any attempt to sink into the material will be thwarted, interrupted, and my resentment… well, he is only a sick child, and he doesn’t deserve that.

I can clean out my bag, clear out my head, sort a few papers. Mostly I try to prepare for tomorrow, or for the eventual day the boy will return to school: I pick up and put away and sweep, empty the sink and dishwasher, run a bath for him. I vacuum. I push the laundry through its paces. I set out a fresh set of clothes for him, and another fresh set for me. I water the large planter’s herbs, and the small planter’s green salad sprouts.

The geranium rewards me for my fretting with two bunches of buds and two coral blossoms—I move it to the center of the table.

The child is asking for his fourth slice of toast, which means it’s time to quit even this much typing. He asks if I want to play Red Sox Monopoly—I do not. The tea kettle whistles. Time to go do what I can do. Not Monopoly but maybe a card game. Wait, he’s settling into his baseball card sorting again—maybe I can get a few emails answered, and start noting quotations.

First the toast, and the French press of decaf, and the morning.

Happy Candlemas. Each week we "gain" another quarter hour of daylight, now. And the geranium is starting to bloom. Soon we will be outdoors, walking the beach, making the switch to lighter coats. Soon.

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