All was well until 10:30 on Sunday night. Holly had been in bed for two hours when she stumbled into our bedroom crying.
I asked her what was wrong.
“I don’t know!” she sobbed. “I can’t fall asleep and I can’t stop crying!”
The peculiarity as well as the illogic of that response tipped me off that all was no longer well. I tried to settle her back in bed, but she returned to our room within the hour. That time I lay down with her until she fell asleep, but the pattern continued four or five more times throughout the night. By daylight on Monday, she had a fever of 101. I dosed her up with Motrin and left a message on the absent line at school as Tim headed off for the bus.
Holly rested and watched TV all day. Her face was puffy, her nose stuffy. “Mommy, my nose is so tired from blowing!” she wailed at one point. She looked so miserable I didn’t have the heart to try to curtail the TV habit. Quite honestly, I’m surprised the child actors who play the twins on “The Suite Life with Zach and Cody” have lived enough hours to have taped the number of episodes she watched that day.
In the afternoon, my parents were kind enough to babysit for her at their house since I had a previously scheduled appointment. She’d barely eaten all day, but my mother cajoled her into downing a bowl of fresh strawberries. We weren’t even off my parents’ driveway yet after I picked her up when she started to fret. “Mommy, I suddenly feel much worse,” she said, followed by the inevitable projectile vomiting of the whole bowl of strawberries.
At the risk of giving far too much information, I’ll go even beyond my usual Pollyanna look-on-the-bright-side tendencies here to say that if there has to be something that your eight-year-old is going to throw up all over the back of your car, you could not do better than fresh strawberries. It was more like someone dumped a smoothie across the seat than had an actual digestive accident. But anyway.
We continued home. Once there, I mopped out the car with towels and put Holly’s jacket and blankie in the washing machine. Holly took a bath and felt better afterwards, at which point Tim came home looking very pale.
Holly had a good night’s sleep; this time it was Tim who woke on Tuesday with a fever of 101. Holly woke fever-free and cheerfully prepared for school; Tim struggled not to cry in light of the unhappy news that he was going to miss the first day of the sixth-grade three-day outdoor education trip. I promised him if he could shake the fever after one day, we’d drive him up ourselves and catch up to the rest of the class.
So Tim spent yesterday at home watching TV and dosing with Motrin. By the afternoon, he felt better. Holly returned home from school looking well and happy. Until she fell down the stairs and landed on her back. It was a pretty bad fall, although after extensive inspection Rick and I determined that the damage wasn’t serious. She’ll probably have a black-and-blue torso within another day or two, though.
So it hasn’t been the best start to the week for us. Some weeks are like this. We’re lucky ours aren’t worse. The kind of flu from which Holly bounced back easily (and then bounced on down the stairs on her back – but I don’t think that’s any more than a coincidence) would have landed my niece, who has a compromised respiratory system, in the emergency room. I’m grateful both my kids are so resilient to germs and recover from illness so quickly.
Now the upholstery in the car has been shampooed and the empty bottle of Motrin replaced. Disappointingly, Tim woke again today with a fever of 100. There’s still the possibility that he can make it to the third and final day of nature camp with his classmates tomorrow. All in all, we got through it relatively easily. Those weeks when everyone gets sick at once are the kind of experience every parent has but non-parents can’t quite imagine: the stress, the tiredness, the mess of it all.
We managed. Tim needs another day of rest, but soon we’ll all be back on our feet, and Holly has promised to skip a little more cautiously up and down the stairs from now on. Holly probably won’t ask for strawberries again for a good long time, but other than that, as far as I can tell, we emerged unscathed.