Four-fifths of my children are home sick today.
They’re not very sick. They’re just sort of sick, living in that strange place between being really sick and perfectly healthy.
I bet you know the place. Don’t you?
It’s that place in the school handbook that reads, “Please keep your children at home for at least 24 hours after symptoms of fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea subside.”
It’s that place where your children behave like wee little monsters who’ve tossed back a cocktail of caffeine, adrenaline, and the highest of high fructose corn syrups but who remain imprisoned in the confines of your rapidly shrinking house, a bit wild-eyed, a little jittery and a lot stir-crazy, just like their mama.
It’s that place where good mamas everywhere ration bland food and dispense unlimited television, hoping fervently to quell the impending riot and praying for the quarantine to end.
It’s that place where I am living right now.
Our house is upended.
Right this very minute, in fact, the toilet paper is unfurled like one giant, celebratory streamer that winds its way from the bathroom, through the kitchen, over the table, and ends in the living room where it’s alternately woven in intricate patterns throughout the furniture and piled in giant, mountainous heaps.
(I need to find the culprit who did this so I can congratulate him or her on managing that feat without a single break in the paper. Our T.P. is the cheap stuff, y’all – more like translucent, brittle tree bark – so the not-ripping of it is quite the accomplishment.)
I stand in our kitchen, surveying random scenes of Gatorade and saltine crackers,
and the ramen noodles which are slowly making good their escape,
and I kindly suggest to my not very sick kids that perhaps we can all work together to clean up.
The children don’t respond.
I try again, emphasizing that we all might do just a smidgen.
Three of them ignore me entirely. I can’t blame them. My suggestion lacks conviction and is devoid of urgency. I’m trying to care about the mess because I feel like Caring About The Mess is something I should do. But, well, I’m not very good at the shoulds, now, am I?
The fourth kid, though, turns to me with a bright smile which warms my heart and makes me feel heard, even though not even I care about what I’m saying.
“Hey!” he responds with enthusiasm, “Smidgen rhymes with pigeon!”
Which is exactly how I feel about cleaning. It’s like he took the words right out of my mouth!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the current state of my house.
P.S. I had things to do today.
There’s a whole list of things, you guys.
Kid things, wife things, tomorrow’s my mom’s birthday things, blog things.
THINGS, you know?
But you know what? After a week with on-again, off-again sickees in the house, I’m operating on little sleep, less energy, and generous side dish of nausea. So I think today I’ll practice a touch of forgiveness and give myself a break.
If you’re with me… if today you didn’t do all of your things… feel free to give me a report in the comments section below. I’ve got a funny little feeling that I’m not alone, and being Not Alone is one of the very best things I know.