As soon as school starts I take my brood to get their flu shots. They whine, protest, and 10-year-old, Jamison mentions that “these shots aren’t necessary and you said ‘that the needle doesn’t hurt’ and it does.” I am the “mean mom” that makes them get their arms poked with needles, although truthfully I am more needle phobic than they are. I know that flu shots are worth it because my kids have had an easy couple of years, with nothing more than a few sniffles to contend with. I must have been a little too self-assured, because this year has had me flying in and out of my boy’s pediatrician’s office at warp speed.
It all started on the very first day of school. Yes, Austin, (the self-admitted wuss of the family), had to go to the nurse’s office and had me called to come pick him up on the very first day of school. That phone call still gives my Type A personality the chills, just thinking of missing all of the information that is given out the very first day. I shudder. He was seriously sick and obviously had to come home. I shouldn’t have questioned him, but if you knew Austin you wouldn’t blame me.
The production begins. Austin moans about the ringing in his ears, while wrapped in a blanket to combat chills, and then stripping the blanket complaining of cold sweats. He says that the bright lights hurt his eyes, while all of these complaints are peppered with sneezes, some half-hearted coughs, and a few exaggerated asthma wheezes to get his point across. He prefers to lie on our comfy couch all day listlessly. He is the child that wants a little bell to ring for me to bring him Sprite to “settle his stomach,” tissues to dab his nose, and to have his pillows fluffed. If he has to exert himself, he decides that it just isn’t worth the effort. He prefers not think about school, or what he is missing. Even with a simple cold, he is assured that he isn’t going to make it, particularly if he walks by a mirror and sees his disheveled hair, pale color, and red nose. That image seems to assure him that he is a goner. He will take a few phone calls from Mimi and Popsy asking how he feels until all of the talking seems to wear him out. He continues to moan all night just like a bevy of coyotes until he wakes up the next morning. He springs from the bed feeling perfectly fine and ready to take on the world in the usual fast-paced Austin style. He hollers from his room the next morning, “World, it is good to be back among the living!” His excitement only wanes once he realizes that his recovery means he is going back to school. Jamison walks by Austin’s room, shakes his head, and mutters, “Well it looks like the poor little thing is going to live after all.”
Jamison is a completely different story. Jamison trudges through the sniffles and general not feeling good until he just can’t take it anymore. He won’t even tell me he isn’t feeling well. I can see the weakness in his blood-shot green eyes, feel his forehead as the fever has already started, and notice that he is inside and being still. Jamison simply has too much to do to be sick. He can’t take time off helping Popsy with the garden, he has to make sure that his Treehouse is winterized, his bike needs riding, Legos have to be rearranged and sorted, and his piano has to be practiced.
When it becomes apparent that he is “under the weather” and that going to school isn’t a possibility, the first thing out of his mouth is, “Please call the school and see if I can get my assignments. If you are behind you can’t go out at recess and you have to go to detention to get caught up.” Jamison, like most boys, really likes and appreciates his recess time. He is a good patient as he will take his medicine, asks me to get him something to drink, and if can watch TV. He enjoys the phone calls and he spends time going into detail explaining to Mimi every ache and pain that he is experiencing and the medicine I am giving him. He will even ask Mimi if she agrees with the dosage I am giving him. Jamison is always the cautious one. He longingly looks out the windows and sees the dogs and cats all lined up waiting for him to come and out and play with them. He sighs heavily just wanting to feel better to return to the outdoors. When it is determined that he can go back to school he lets out cheers and the familiar gleam returns to his eyes.
Each child approaches their sick days so different. When they are under-the-weather, I secretly relish my one-on-one time with each of them. Because when you are sick, somehow only Mom will do.