By Leza Warkentin
The Sick Day
There’s a good reason why most major religions warn against vanity or pride, because they both really do go before a fall. In other words, if you keep boasting about something, it will come back to take a big bite out of your ego.
For the last few years I’ve enjoyed making a Big Deal out of my strong immune system. I have worked with young children my entire adult life. Little children are really quite fantastic at spreading contagious illnesses and tend to see their teachers as human Kleenex. I spent the first few years of my career making plans for a substitute while I slogged through the human misery that is flu season. Then, once I moved to Mexico, Montezuma took his revenge on my poor guera digestive system on and off for a couple of years.
After that, I was titanium, yo. I visualized my immune system as a giant, scar-riddled bad boy, smacking an iron pipe against its palm and watching the germs scurry away like college kids at the Wrong Bar.
However, for some reason, this school year has begun differently. In September I had some sort of evil virus that had me clutching my head in an attempt to keep it from blowing up into the four corners of the room so as not to alarm the children. Exactly three weeks later I am typing this article, stopping every 14 seconds to cough into my elbow (as most polite Canadians will do) and wonder why my eyeballs haven’t popped out yet.
Parents, do you remember what it was like to be sick before you had children? You pretended to be really upset that you couldn’t make it in to work, but secretly you couldn’t wait to get The Sick Call over with so you could whip out the remote, set up the pillows, send out your partner for ice cream, and watch daytime TV for the next 10 hours. When else could you catch The Today Show, Oprah and maybe some Seinfeld re-runs (and, admit it, probably a peek at Jenny Jones and maybe even Jerry Springer if you had a fever).
Since becoming a parent, being sick means that everyone still needs you to do the same stuff you normally do, but with a sick pail in your hand. Admittedly, my husband is my angel of mercy during these days. He cooks, he cleans, he helps with homework, and he gives the children lunch money. But still, only I know where the swimming goggles are and that it’s Dress as Your Favorite Book Character at school tomorrow. And I also seem to be the only one who knows that they don’t need 100 pesos each for lunch. On a typical sick day I will be hanging out on the bed, trying to go back to sleep after a night of feverish snake dreams, when one will escape the Daddy Net and come up to announce (in a tone of grievous offence) “Daddy doesn’t KNOW that I have P.E. on Thursdays and he is TRYING to make me wear the BEIGE UNIFORM.” I drag myself up to deal with this life-threatening situation and end up cutting the crusts off the toast and digging out the tennis shoes from under the couch.
I figure it’s a small price to pay for the Joy of Parenthood on most other days (I think that’s what I supposed to say here, anyway), but do send some good wishes to my beleaguered immune system, who needs to get back to the beach and start kicking sand on the viral 97-pound-weakling. And I need to brag about it.