Sick Day

The Next Family

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

A thermometer stuck in one ear read 100.2, the same thermometer in the other ear: 99.8.

“She’s okay,” I muttered.

“What’s her temp?” my husband asked.

“Not so high,” I said.  “Barely 100.  Probably less.”

“Look at her,” he said.

Our daughter was curled in his lap, limp as the proverbial noodle.

“She’ll perk right up,” I said.  But I felt a little bad about it.

“I think it’s strep,” my husband said.  “I think I can smell it.”

The “smell” of strep is usually my line.  (What my nose suspects, the doctor will confirm with a throat swab.  I don’t know why, but it’s true.)  Today, I didn’t really smell it, but truthfully, I’m a little stuffed up myself and even more truthfully, I was really looking forward to a whole day alone.  I wasn’t emotionally prepared for a “sick day.”

“She’s fine,” I said.

My husband dialed the pediatrician.

And, of course, our daughter had strep.

I’d imagined that today would be the day that I really kicked my novel into high gear (or at least started the near archeological dig through school paperwork, phone bills, grocery lists and unread New Yorkers that would reveal the top of my desk).  Now, my day would be spent with the kid.  I reminded myself that I did love this kid and also that being a mom is one of my favorite things. (Sometimes it’s good to go over the basics.)

And so, with some effort, I switched my day from a “me day” to a “we day.”  And it was great.  We went to the grocery story and got provisions and I reveled in the ease of shopping with only one child instead of two.  We rented junior chick flicks and spent the day in my bed watching girl power blossom in a junior detective and a nerd turned princess.

We played with the dog and made chicken soup and read books about talking cats and mice.  We ate a lot of gumdrops for their medicinal value.

In the late afternoon, my son came home from school like a tornado hitting the prairie and soon after, my husband arrived from work filled with the news of the day and it took me a minute to get back in the swing of things.  They come home with all kinds of questions and answers.  They bring information and stories and an urgency to share their day.  I realized that it was nice to spend a whole day with only one other person.  It was nice to focus all of my attention on my daughter and to feel all of her attention focused on me.  We reduced the day to the basics: food, rest, amusement and we shared everything.  Our story today was the same.

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