Last week Brady was struck by the dreaded “throw-up virus” as it is lovingly referred to by the kindergarteners at his school. When one class was missing 10 kids on Monday I knew things were bad, so I can’t say I was surprised when Brady started complaining of a belly ache Tuesday afternoon. The puke started soon after, but honestly wasn’t so bad. Brady is a very good puker. He’s had a lot of practice since he tends to get car sick. So he made it to his blue plastic bowl or the toilet each time, even in the middle of the night.
The vomit was short-lived, but unfortunately the fever was not. He would be fine for a few hours, running around and restless and then be taken out by a 102 degree temperature. This went on for a little over 2 days, so he was out of school Wednesday through Friday. I gained a new appreciation for him being at school for 6 hours a day. With him sick as a dog on Wednesday and Thursday and Declan being his perky little toddler self, it was really tough to keep them both somewhat happy. We discovered two new types of Power Rangers on Netflix for B and D got way too much time with the iPad, but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get through, right? We also played a lot of games of Guess Who while Declan napped. Man is that game fun.
On Friday Brady was officially fever-free! He was still a little weak and tired and didn’t have an appetite, but he was a lot more fun. Over the days he was home I had tried desperately, and mostly ineffectively, to keep some sort of order in my apartment. I spent a good amount of time just picking things up off the floor, as well as washing dishes, feeding people, doing laundry, etc. I was exhausted.
So here’s where the optimism comes in. On Friday afternoon Declan got ahold of the brand new box of tissues that Brady had just opened and, while I was in the bathroom, proceeded to take about 75 of them out of the box and toss them around the living room. “Declan!” I started, “why? why, why, why did you have to do this?” I began picking them up and then I stopped. I thought, fuck it, and I took a big wad of the tissues and threw them over the heads of my children.
At first they looked at me like, “Mommy, have you finally lost it?” But when I started laughing and threw more into the air, they joined in. We had a big, giant, tissue party! I really need to remind myself more often to let go of the rules and just have fun. As a friend pointed out to me recently, “We had better laugh. Because this is life, this is it, there’s no more waiting.”
Part of the fun was the letting go. As a mother, and really as a person, I do that far too little. I hold fast to the “rules” whatever they are. Don’t let the kids watch too much tv, engage them, teach them, get exercise, feed them healthy food, not too much sugar, not too much juice. It becomes overwhelming, and more than that it becomes all-consuming. I lose myself in the rules. Sometimes you just have to LET GO. Throw some damn tissues around the room, play in the mud, eat ice cream, or worse, cotton candy, watch cartoons, wrestle on the bed. Rules are good, they are necessary, but so is freedom. Teaching my kids to let go may be just as important as teaching them to be disciplined.
And don’t worry, the tissues did not die a needless death in our frivolity. They went on to become part of my ongoing, Clorox-fueled battle against the germs invading our home. Clorox and I have become fast friends, and I didn’t really need the outer layers of the skin on my hands, right?