The Squirrelly got a bunch of cool toys for his birthday, but his favorite is the Busy Ball Popper. It’s this long, snaking tube, and when you put something into one end an invisible force accelerates it until it is ejected from the other end with explosive velocity.
Speaking of which: I have the flu.
It all started innocently enough on Friday evening, when The Squirrelly refused his dinner. Unfortunately, this refusal came 30 minutes after he had injected it. While sitting in my lap. Right at the best part of The Very Busy Spider, where I get to make the goat noises. He had been making this funny little coughing sound for about 10 minutes, and I interrupted my reading to say “Oh, stop: you’re not fooling me with your fakey-cough sympathy ploy.” And then, hoo boy, he showed me.
So I panicked and insisted we drive him directly directly to the emergency room because, my god, when has a baby ever thrown up before? The Queen pretended to play along, but basically stalled and waited for me to come to my senses. “I’ll get ready to go,” she said, and then went into the bathroom and slowly bushed her teeth. Meanwhile, I did a Google search for “baby +vomiting” and got around 40 quintillion hits, and every site said things like “You should take your child to the urgent care unit if (a) he is throwing up every five minutes (b) for 350 hours continuously. Otherwise: welcome to parenthood! Hope you enjoy doing laundry, chump!” That calmed me down (or maybe I had just become apathetic and uncaring about everything, as I always do after surfing the web) and I went into the bedroom, where The Queen was still clad and her pajamas, and announced that I didn’t think a trip to the emergency room was required after all.
We put The Squirrelly to bed and the next morning he ate a modest breakfast. His appetite was diminished for the remainder of the day, but we cycled so much electrolyte solution through his system that he was as hydrated as a sea sponge. Also, he took a two-hour nap in the morning and another in the afternoon — vomit more often, kiddo! By the time he ate a smallish dinner and went to sleep Saturday evening, we thought the worst was behind us.
And then came Sunday — Palm Sunday, according to the calendar, but that we in the Baldwin household shall forever remember as “That One Day When We Were Totally Sick, Holy Shit Were We Ever Sick That Day.”
I kicked of the festivities around 5:00 in the morning. “Wow, I feel totally nauseated*,” I announced, and then went into the bathroom and proved it. “Are you pregnant?” The Queen asked when I returned. “Oh just you wait, wife o’ mine,” I retorted. “You’ll get yours.”
Well, I didn’t really retort that. But I would have had the world’s best “I told you so!” about five hours later if I had.
Since our bodies were hosting clearance sales (“Everything must go!!“) from 10 o’clock onwards, The Queen and I had about one joule of energy between the two of us, while The Squirrelly, full of vim after recovering from his bout, was a lil’ dynamo, and the whole day played out like a children’s book about cheetah kitten adopted my a family of sloths. Basically, we did the entire day in two hour shifts: one of us would lay in bed and moan, and the other would “take care of the baby,” which consisted of watching him play while they lay on the couch and moaned.
Which brings me back to the Busy Ball Popper. When The Squirrelly first received it, I was skeptical — it’s hyperkenetic and too colorful and not interactive, a TV without a volume control knob, essentially. But that was before it parented our child for an entire day. Between it and the Laugh and Learn Learning Home he was pretty much occupied for the entire day, and all we had to do was occasionally carry him to his high chair and hurl handfuls of Cheerios in his general direction. And he even had Baby Tad to give him appropriate, confidence-building affirmations (“I love you!!”), whereas the best I could muster was to crawl up to him at one point and croak “Despite the fact that you picked up this hideous disease at daycare and brought it home to your loving parents, we don’t want you to consider our suffering ‘your fault,’ although we certainly do.”
(Oh, I never mentioned that The Squirrelly began daycare? He started last Wednesday. And he got sick on Friday. And the incubation period for this illness is two days. You do the math. The only other child at the daycare Wednesday was an adorable little girl named Avery, so we have of course fingered her as the culprit, and have even been jokingly referring to the bug as the “Avery Influenza” or, when we don’t have the strength to articulate that many syllables, the “bird flu.” That’s right: we have named the disease that has made us want to die after another disease that actually kills people. This is what has passed for jocularity around here recently.)
Anyway, today we woke up feeling well enough to drink coffee, which, around here, is pretty much the continental divide between life-threatening and benign illnesses. I even ate a bowl of corn flakes, an act that was unthinkable 24 hours ago. (The only thing I ate yesterday was a single rice cake, and that took two hours of dedicated effort.) And judging from The Squirrelly, who today seems fit as fiddle, I should be tip-top again by Wednesday.
Although I’m not sure the trajectory of my recovery will mirror that of the kid’s, since the disease has affected us in profoundly different ways. We had the same symptoms, sure. But The Squirrelly took the illness in stride, weathering it like a man; whereas I weathered it like a helpless, mewling baby.