It began with the sound heard and most feared by every mom around the world in precisely the wrong place: the newishly carpeted hallway, far away from a toilet, bucket, garbage can, or any other surface or container that could be easily cleaned or appropriately discarded. This week, that’s what I’ve learned about the flu. Itprefers to lash out on things that can be ruined once every twenty minutes for 24-48 hours per child and husband.
The flu also has particular time proclivities. While it can strike at whatever inconvenient time it likes, its initial attack is best initiated between the hours of 12am-3am, approximately 10-15 minutes after the matriarch and patriarch fall asleep. This leaves Dad pretty much impossible to wake up, and Mom solely responsible, at no fault of his own naturally deep, and deeply envied, sleeping state.
Even if it is begged, the flu does not spread quickly so as to get it over with. No, it lingers in a way that just when it appears dormant, the baby releases its virus all over the dinner table. This occurs approximately 20 minutes before the parents made dinner plans with friends. Its ability to make the warning, “eat your vegetables!” meaningless, fully covered in bacteria, yet not entirely unwelcome by those seated at the table under the age of 4 is most impressive. And 20 minutes before a fun thing is about to occur seems to be its second most preferred time strike.
Ruined plans, full-blown isolation from the exterior world, and various pieces of furniture and carpets ruined is annoying. Yet, there are few things harder, in my experience at least, than refusing a baby water or a bottle, words she has just learned to use politely with ‘please’ attached, when she desperately wants one and has absolutely zero understanding as to the reason for her mean mommy’s refusal.
As the others are slowly nursed back from pale, the last remaining child appears impervious to the flu’s peril. She runs, plays, all while laughing at the flu in the face of her older brother and younger sister for so long that it really does seem impossible that she will catch it, too. “What an immune system she has,” her mother brags. “It’s almost stronger than her personality,” she continues to her husband as she is about to fall asleep. The sound strikes again just as her eyelids close. This time, it’s from sweet Josephine’s bed. Favorite attachment objects and long blond curls are involved and very dirty. Somehow she still laughs when it’s over and immediately asks for a popsicle and milk. It’s a long night filled with a lot of “no’s.”
The next morning that proceeds zero sleep from either parents is welcomed fully by the recovered older brother with energy and a whole lot of Carpe Diem. “Could you go visit your (thought to also be recovered) baby sister for a few minutes?” the parents beg. “Sure!” he scampers. Approximately 30 seconds later he returns confused, bewildered, and apparently unfamiliar with the contents of vomit. “Um Mom? Rita did something in there. I’m pretty sure its paint or something. Like red paint, with some pink, a little bit of owange and some green. There is no blue. And she painted her whole bed. And it smells weal weal bad.” The description, though possibly concerning for his context clue reasoning, is clear. It’s never leaving us.
The flu is the worst and it comes to ruin at least 7 days and maybe the washing machine, too.
If the flu were a body part, I think it would be a raised middle finger.
Also, if money is promised for making it to an appropriate puking place, the kids count, and it adds up pretty fast. FYI.
May the Fat Tuesday Revelry be fun and stomach flu free.
Prayers all around for a Holy start to Lent mañana.