Its that time of year again.
Christmas trees lay in abandoned heaps at the curb.
“50% Off All Holiday Items” signs sprout up in store windows.
And the hum of “Jingle Bells” gives way to the unmistakable, undeniable sound of… sneezing.
I look at my son, from whom the offending sound just escaped, and I shudder.
What’s the big deal, right? It’s just one little sneeze.
Sure. But the next thing I know, everybody in my house is sick. And when a five-year-old, his three-year-old sister, and the mom who wipes all the runny noses are all sick at the same time, well… just shoot me.
Now when my oldest was a toddler, we spent most of our time at home and maybe he’d get one or two colds a season. But when he went into kindergarten, we all entered this vast new unexplored germ pool and suddenly every kid in his class with a runny nose became like a little germ terrorist in my mind.
Soon the warning notes start coming home from school. A case of Strep Throat here; a Pink Eye there. Before I know it we’ve got the vaporizers running on full tilt, the counters are overflowing with Pediacare, and our house looks like we’ve won a contest where first prize was a year’s supply of Kleenex tissues.
Now the worst part is not the coughing, dripping, general yuckiness that infects our household for a week-to-ten days. Nor is it the inevitable, ensuing ear infections that seem to show up following each and every cold. It’s not even the fact that I still have to be the great and wonderful mommy while I feel like someone stuffed my head with playdough.
No, the worst part is the total, utter boycott of my home by any and all of my friends with children. For as long as the drip drips from my child’s nose, I am a complete and absolute pariah of parental society.
Not that I don’t do the same thing to my friends when their kids are sick.
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But when the Kleenex is on the other nostril and you’ve been locked up inside with the drippy twins for a week, you become desperate for the company of someone who doesn’t whine and wheeze.
So first I tell a little lie. “Well my son is getting over a cold and my daughter has a runny nose… but I think it’s allergies.”
They don’t buy it.
(It could be the gnarly, phlegmy, hacking cough they hear in the background while I’m on the phone).
So then I call my second string of friends. But as it turns out their kids are sick too and are probably the little darlings who got my kids sick in the first place.
Anyway, just when I think it can’t get any worse, my husband gets sick, too. Its not that I’m unfeeling. But when my husband gets sick, he’s worse than the two kids combined. The way he carries on, you’d think he’d just contracted double viral pneumonia while having root canal done on an impacted molar without any novocaine. Do I sympathize? Of course. I even make him a nice bowl of soup. Not home-made chicken soup, like his mother did when he was a kid, he informs me, but regular old, “if its good enough for the kids, it’s ‘Um, um, good’ enough for you” canned stuff.
A week to ten days later, my children healthy and my house germ-free, I call one of my friends to make a playdate and end my sentence of viral solitary confinement.
As she picks up the phone I hear a hacking, phlegmy cough in the background of her house.
“My son is just getting over a cold and I think the Baby has allergies.” She tells me through stuffed nasal passages.
See you in March.