The Flu

If a toddler comes up to you and offers you a cookie, don’t take it. It is not a cookie. It’s the flu.

My husband and I are generally very healthy. Most of the year. Until we visit the family for Christmas in Canada. For the past two years we returned from our happy family Christmas with the flu. Everyone in both our sons’ families was sick and so, in the spirit of sharing, we succumbed and joined the hackers on the couch.

Every parent should know that when kids are young, they get sick. There is very little that can be done about this, it is simply a fact. I recall visits to my dear sister Pat’s place on the west coast when almost every year we arrived, someone was sick. I’d wheel in to her home, open the door of the old blue van and yell, “open the garbage quick!” She always knew what to expect so when some small child lurched out she had the garbage can open. On one occasion she was slow and her foot became the target.

One year we outdid ourselves when four of the kids came down with the flu bug. Pat was ready for us with a brave smile on her face. And boots. Once again I opened the window as we wheeled in and yelled to open the garbage, however this time there was a significant improvement – bagged lunch. I finally managed to catch one little barfer in time to pull over and give him the bag I learned to keep handy. He dutifully filled it.

That night I slept on the pull out couch with my sister and we packed the six kids into her daughter’s room. There was only one bed, so we tucked three into it, and put the others on the floor in their sleeping bags. At around one a.m. one little tike wobbled downstairs and whispered the bad news: he’d been sick all over the bed.

Not wanting to wake my sister, I groped my way quietly to the kitchen and fumbled through a cupboard for a bowl and spoon, then trudged up the stairs. To keep from waking the kids I managed in the dim room to move two of them from the bed, scraped the mess from the sheets into the bowl, stepped over many small bodies on the carpet, and put the sheets in the wash. I then returned for the bowl and made my way to the bathroom toilet to tip the contents, turned on the light and discovered, to my horror, that in the kitchen I had grabbed…. a sieve.

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