one sick kid
17 July 2001
Go to bed at nine thirty p.m., worn out. Wake up at eleven thirty, crying. Sit on the bed, paralyzed. Wanting Mommy but your brain isn’t working well enough to know how to get off the bed. Mommy hears you. Comes. Carries you down the hall to her bed. Fidget and twitch your way back to sleep, only to half-wake every twenty minutes, your skin a little hotter each time, until you radiate heat like a small furnace. Mommy asks if you want medicine. "I want medicine," you say pathetically. You suck the sickly sweet red stuff out of a syringe and sit in Mommy’s lap for the next hour. You drink juice. You don’t lie down. Mommy lies down. You hate that.

Finally, at four thirty a.m., the medicine starts to work. Your body aches less. You lie down. You snuggle and snore.

Morning. Eyes glued shut. No fun.

Sit in laps. Stare, glazed. Want juice? Want juice. Want bagel? Want bagel. Want to watch TV? No TV. Want to play, but no energy. Time to cry. Life sucks.

Perk up. Play with Daddy. Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom door is shut. Daddy says "Don’t wake Mama!" You know that book. You charge into her room, shouting "Don’t sneeze! You’ll wake Mama! AAAA-CHOOO!" and fling yourself on the bed. Because, you know, she doesn’t really want to take a nap. She’s just pretending to be tired. You’re not tired, so she can't be either.

Fetch toy syringe from doctor’s kit. Give shot to kitty. Kitty’s sick. Needs bandage too. Kitty jumps up and wanders off, plastic bandaid falling off his paw. The medicine must have worked.

Open fridge, stand in the bright and stare at the contents blankly.

"Are you hungry?"

"I’m quite hungry myself," you say, quoting Hi, Pizza Man! You add "Hungry" for emphasis.

"Okay, what do you want to eat?"

You say nothing, of course.













They sigh, close the refrigerator door.

Panic. "I want pudding!" Time to cry.

At the table: On Mommy’s lap. Pudding on spoon. Take one look. "No!"

Scratch the pudding order.

"Are you hungry?"


What’s left to do but cry?

You cry.

Favorite refrain of the day: "I want tissue" (said "I want tie-sss-eeyou"). Blow until your nose is red. Blow your nose and then, when Daddy says "blow" again, you blow like the wind, like a fan, like a little boy trying to be cute.

Mommy gets a phone call. Mommies shouldn’t be on the phone when their children are sick. Time to cry. Mommy blots tears. Not good enough. Run into Mommy’s office. Play peek-a-boo behind the door. Mommy plays but doesn't get off the phone. Stubborn Mommy.

Back porch. Mommy’s still on the phone. Time to pull out the big guns. Cry a LOT. Cry LOUD. Mommy says "Can you call back in fifteen minutes? Someone wants some attention." She gets off the phone. Crying works.

Time to go garden. Daddy says "Do you want your shoes on?"

Perish the thought. "No!"

"You have to wear shoes if you go in the yard."


Mommy says, "Or you can take off your socks, go barefoot."


You’re sick. Your body feels creepy crawly shivery icky. No shoes, no bare feet.

No yard?

Plop down in Mommy’s lap. Shoe time. Grit your teeth and wear the damned things.

Take out Mommy’s metal shovel and hoe, give them to her. Take out your green plastic shovel and hoe. Dig in the to-be-an-herb-bed together, breaking up big hard clods of dirt. Together.

Come inside. Exhausted. Sit on Daddy’s lap, lean into the curve of his arms, and fall asleep.

Wake up to the rambunctious sound of Roger Rabbit bouncing off the TV screen. Watch until you can’t stand it. Cry for no more TV.

"Are you hungry? Do you want dinner?"

No. Stop asking that.

"Damian, I think it’s time to get into your PJs."

Run away. Get caught in the kitchen between Mommy and Daddy. Try to persuade them it would be great to go out to the yard now. They don't buy it.

Mommy changes your clothes on their bed.

Wail indistinguishable words. Finally calm down. "I want buks."

"Dan! Damian says he wants his plastic bugs. Can you bring them?"

"No!" Try again: "I want BUKS!"

Read books with Mommy.

Daddy asks, "Are you hungry?"


"Do you want yogurt or bagel?"


Sit on Daddy's lap reading books. Comment, "Mommy is getting yogurt."

She comes back with a glass custard cup and a spoon. You say, "See, we found the yogurt!"

Sit on Daddy’s lap eating yogurt with great concentration. Finish yogurt.

"Damian, you look tired, what do you want to do now? See pictures or read books?"

Answer without words. Stand up. Kiss Daddy goodnight. Fall into Mommy’s arms. Time to rock for two songs and go to sleep in your own bed.

For at least the next two hours, until you wake up crying because you can’t breathe and your skin hurts.

Being sick sucks.

For everyone.

last // home // next

current log / Damian essay archive / other essays archive / what's all this, then?

copyright 2001 Tamar