taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Thursday, April 14, 2005

And so it begins... the dreaded Germs of Daycare.

The Queen Bee came home early yesterday with a 102 fever and a nose like a faucet. She tries to remain chipper--stomping around, holding various objects to her ear as though they are telephones and screaming "ALLO" like a drunken Frenchwoman--but I can tell she's not quite herself. She falls over a lot and makes this little resigned crying noise like "Eh eh eh eh." It's the noise of suffering. I know because I've made it myself.

I know that this is only the first illness among many. That in daycare, hundreds of children wipe their hands against their sticky noses and touch the communal toys, that they barf on each other and steal each other's bottles, that maybe the teachers don't sanitize their hands every five minutes. I also know this is a good thing--that when she gets to kindergarten, her immunities will be as strong as a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, and while the wussy stay-at-home kids will fall ill at a moment's notice, the Queen Bee will be like an ox. But for the year--and yes, I know from experience that it takes a year to run through all the permutations of illness--she will be leaking snot, barfing, feverish, and coughing.

And the bottom line is it breaks my heart to see my kids sick. There's nothing really like that feeling when they fall against you, exhausted and inconsolable, their hot little bodies so heavy and tired, their tears. The first time around, with the Panda, her sicknesses freaked me out so bad I would cry along with her, on the phone with the doctor late at night: "BUTSHE'SGOTAHUNDREDANDTHREEDOCTOR!" But this time I know what's serious and what's not, and I know that while I can ease her suffering, I can't make it go away altogether. A bitter lesson, because all I want is to make it magically disappear.

When I was little and had an earache--I was prone to ear infections--my mother would hold me and say, "Now put your ear up to my ear and give me the earache." "No, Mommy!" I'd tell her, "I don't want you to have an earache!" Don't worry, she'd reassure me, "I can handle that earache. I'll beat that earache for you." And so I'd put my ear against hers and I swear, there was some Mommy Mojo going on there, because damned if it didn't feel better right away.

I take heart from this. My muumma powers may be limited, but they exist, and they aren't inconsequential. When the kids are sick, it's me they want. Maybe I was endowed, upon giving birth, with a super-secret power for alleviating discomfort, even if only temporarily. I would like to think so, because it would mean I'm at least doing something.

Meanwhile, the Bee is off her feed, daycare won't take her back this week, and there's no napkin on earth that can wipe her face properly. We'll just have to get through it.

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