Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Germs, as you may know, are alive. Which is how I know they’re out to get me.
Just like my kids. It’s like they’re planning together.
I’ve never heard germs are conscious, but I don’t know how else to explain their timing. I must’ve done something devastating to the germ world (virus world? I don’t know). Maybe it was all the allergy shots that stopped them when I was a kid.
But they know when I’m about to take time off. They know when I’m about to go somewhere. They know when I need to relax so my life in general doesn’t make my head explode.
And then they strike. Through my children.
Going through flu season is awful, for a number of reasons — some of which have nothing to do with people actually getting sick (or very sick, anyway).
My four girls are generally healthy. Until vacation is involved. They’ve all been sick at Disneyland. I can draw you a map of where they’ve all upchucked inside the park. Which is a family thing. I threw up at Disneyland when I was a kid. As did my aunt. As did my cousin. Or maybe his pants just exploded.
Anyway, my wife and I went away for a weekend last month, to make sure we remembered why we got married. And, not unexpectedly, my eight-year-old came down with a fever the day before we left. The kid hadn’t as much as sneezed in six months. Luckily she was scheduled to stay with grandma. Grandmas are great. When they were just moms, they let us run down the middle of the street and otherwise disappear for 14 hours at a time when we were seven, but if one of their grandchildren as much as sniffles, they want to fly in three specialists from Sweden and back up a big rig full of antibiotics to nip this bug in the bud.
So we felt OK leaving. Until the next day, when I became almost too sick to get out of bed at the hotel. I was like that for three weeks. Then it was my wife, then it (sort of) came back around to the other kids. November wasn’t just a bad month for turkeys in our world.
The worst part was the kids. Not because they were suffering, but because they become as useful as month-old Jell-O when their parents get sick. The kids didn’t feel great, but it was nothing that stopped them from going to school, or going to parties, or playing video games for nine hours straight.
I think one of my kids actually fell down while faking a cough. It was like watching a bad flop in the NBA. I love my girls, but it’s like they smell something in the air and decide to work it to their advantage. And then you wonder whether maybe they mean it. Until you hear them on the phone with their friends, laughing and talking about who wears what ugly clothes and who dates people who smell bad, or whatever. Then you walk into their room, and the fake coughing immediately starts.
Again, it makes me want to apologize to my mom. Because I’m sure I did the same thing. No one was going to outsick me. Even if they were really sick.
Now we’re (hopefully) through with this year’s bout with the bugs and can move forward into 2017. And, obviously, I need to keep the vacation plans a secret as long as possible. I’m not sure I totally understand the connection, but I do know I don’t need to give the germs and my kids any more advance notice than necessary.
Tony Hicks is a columnist with the Bay Area News Group and the father of four daughters. Reach him at http://firstname.lastname@example.org.