As I sit at my computer the last evening of the holiday season, I reflect on the highs and lows of the past two weeks. My 3 children have one extra day before school starts again. Which means, they aren’t as depressed as I am yet. Tomorrow the sulking will begin for them. And I will be annoyed because I’m always annoyed with behavior my kids learn from me. (Geesh, I must be terribly annoying then.) Anyway, tomorrow is coming (along with below freezing temperatures and commuters who have forgotten the rules of driving in inclement weather.) I tell myself I will embrace it. I get through the post holiday blues every single year, right? What could be different about this year? I won’t answer that or my blog will delve into territory better suited for a psychiatrist than an innocent reader. Okay – so the future starts tomorrow morning and I will talk about all of that after it happens. Right now, I’d rather take a few steps back and look into the very recent past. The holidays.
It all began on a Friday. My children had parties at school. Except for my 7th grader. I have no idea what he did on that throwaway school day. Truthfully, I already don’t remember anything else that happened that day, or the rest of the weekend so I’m going to skip to Monday. I remember Monday. I begrudgingly worked from home while my children entertained themselves with TVs, iPads, Xboxes and sugar. Work ended up being a nightmare – and lasted into the evening. In the meantime, my child who tends to cough from October to April of every year was coughing more, and I suspected it was turning into illness. Why wouldn’t it? Everybody on my Facebook friends list was sharing their viral misery with everyone on their Facebook friends list. That kind of sharing puts me in a panic and makes me assured I will catch something through the computer screen. I was getting nervous with my daughter’s cough because she started sounding like a werewolf smoker lounge singer. Not something that sounds as though it should come out of the larynx of a 5 year old girl. More worrisome though was the fact that we had tickets to our city’s annual Yuletide celebration the next afternoon. Not a cheap excursion. And I wanted my children to get into the spirit of the holidays by giving them a fun experience. So I put little werewolf Tom Waits to bed at a reasonable hour hoping she’d wake up in good health and spirits.
This is the part where I fib and tell you she did not wake up with a slight fever. Nope. Bad thermometer. We were going to Yuletide dammit. No one was going to babysit a sick child the day before Christmas Eve, and by the looks of my sprightly one, she was not ill at all. (Thank you Tylenol). Just a wee little cough. (cough cough) Let’s face it, I was a nervous wreck. Taking a hacking 5 year old to an orchestral event the day before Christmas Eve was sure to get me a few hateful glares. But it would be loud right? Who would hear her? The answer is I. I would hear her. Every forty seconds I would hear her. Muffled with her coat and a hand towel I stuffed into my purse just for the muffling, I would hear her. When the 4 of us sat down in our seats – at the very top of the auditorium and on the end of an aisle thank goodness, I made a preemptive apology to the women in front of me about my coughing child. Told them she’d been coughing for months (which is true) but that I was an expert about stifling the sound. They were very gracious but the older woman in the duo kept insisting I take one of her mints for my daughter. Even though I clearly had my own stash of mints, (clearly because I had them in the palm of my hand), she wanted me to take one of her childnapper lollies. (Think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…because I was.) This was not going to happen. I don’t know whose hands had been in that tin. I mean I know at least one person who had her hand in that tin. (This is how my defective brain works. I had the sickie with me yet I was worried about the germs of a stranger with a tin of mints.) But, I was always told to never take candy from strangers. That parental advice stuck with me. (If we leave college and my early twenties out of the equation.)
The show started. It was loud as fuck. YES! I figured out my daughter’s cough tempo and was there with the hand towel in time to smother the sound. I noticed too that about one-eighth of the theater was hacking anyway. Suddenly I felt as though we belonged. My boys were enjoying the show, I was successfully blocking locomotive sounding sputters and coughs, and my little girl was dancing in between hacks. Happy times! Then, then it all went to shit. Why you ask? Because whoever created this show decided to have a group of men sing Elsa’s signature song from the movie Frozen. The second we heard the first lyrics of Let It Go come out of a male singer’s mouth, my daughter went into thumbs down mode. Coughing was no longer the issue. Let It Go was. She was pissed. PISSED. How dare these professionals ruin her show? I personally thought it was terrific, but I no longer have the mind of a 5 year old girl (for the most part). Unfortunately this was the beginning of the second half so I had to try to hang on until the end. I made up my mind I was not leaving early unless public shaming of my family for bringing a sick little person happened. Now she was restless and whispering to me every sixty seconds, “I’m ready to go home mommy.” No easy way to muffle that, so I put in my internal mommy earplugs, (they seem to work much better on whining than coughing) and made her stick it out to the end. When it was over, we Usain Bolted our way out of the theater to beat the crowd. A talent I learned from my father at an early age I’m proud to say. This entailed me having to carry my forty pound child, but I fortunately had it in me.
Once we made it to our vehicle in the parking garage, I let out a colossal sigh of relief. I did it. It wasn’t a great success, but not a complete failure either. My middle child was meh about the show. My oldest and most favorite child during this blog, liked the show, and my dear sweet exasperating youngest child said, “That was the most terrible-est thing I have ever seen in my whole life. I wish I just stayed home!!” It did not take long for her to realize her blunder with that declaration. Something dreadful washed over my face and I turned into well, is it cliché to bring up Faye Dunaway’s impersonation of Joan Crawford? Because although I don’t remember what came out of my mouth since I buried it deep inside the 5 percent of my heart that is cold and unforgiving, it may be tell-all worthy to my babies one future day. Needless to say, baby child buckled her seat belt faster than she had ever shown she had skills to do, and she didn’t complain or say a word the rest of the ride home. She did cough though. A lot.
To be continued…