Thoughts during the lifecycle of a sick child

TJ had fever last week. Pretty much all day. It was a fever that started out of nowhere on Thursday evening, lasted all day Friday, give or take a few hours working off of the strength of the medication, and lasted until night time going into Saturday. His fever finally broke on Saturday.

As I was taking care of my child during his sickness, I had all kinds of thoughts in my head, that is, when I had time to consciously think of a sick child and when I wasn’t worrying about him making his sister sick too.

Thursday evening: Teju and I are about to go upstairs to wake TJ up when I called his name out in a sing-songy way not expecting him to respond. Respond, he did and with his usual, “Whaaat?” (At times he is a 3-year-old with the attitude of a 17-year-old).

As I climbed the stairs with Teju following behind, climbing the stairs by herself, he came out of his room and sat on the first step going down. I sat on the next step down and gave him a hug. He felt warm. I joked, “Honey, you are so warm.” He did not respond. (A few minutes later, still in my hug hold), “Honey, you are really hot, like I could make a chapati on you!” He smiled and said, “I’m not a chapati!”. I hugged him tighter. He seemed his usual self. I let my fleeting concerns fly away and moved on with our routine.

The rest of the evening passed by like its usual lazy self. I served the kids watermelon, mango, and milk which they ate (and drank) hungrily amidst conversations. We were waiting for Daddy to get home.

It is National French Fries Day! Since Aaron forgot to bring home the fries he was supposed to, well, he had to go right back out and get some.

Would TJ like to go with Daddy? “No, Mommy, I want to stay home with you, ” he says lovingly. This is new, I think to myself (but I love it, of course!).

Once Aaron returned, this kid did not clamor for any of the fries nor did he seem excited by them to any degree. This is rather unusual. He refused to eat dinner and did not seem too interested in being bribed with the fries either. Hmm….something wasn’t right.

A few minutes later, almost on instinct, Aaron touched TJ’s forehead. He was really warm this time. Much warmer than he had been earlier in the evening. We got the thermometer out and sure enough, the kid was running a fever of 102.9! Holy Molly! These were some of the things that went through my head immediately after confirming TJ’s fever.

Sigh….I hope he gets better soon. Will he be able to go to school tomorrow? Maybe this will pass during the night and he will be able to go to school. What if it doesn’t? What am I going to do tomorrow? If Teju doesn’t nap and I have a sick child on my hands, how am I going to keep them apart? I don’t want her to get sick. More importantly, if Teju does nap but TJ is not at school, how am I going to be able to work for an hour (assuming it is one of those days, otherwise, being able to work an hour at a stretch is a real luxury)?

Call me selfish, which I very much was in that moment, but the first thing I thought of when I found out TJ had fever was about how it would impact my ability to work. Granted I work from home (and don’t get paid to do this) but it is still important work and I love it and it gives me a sense of purpose and I am not talking about the millions other things I have to do/need to get done in my role as the SAHM.

Friday: The kid had a full blown fever. We gave him Motrin every 6 hours which enabled him to nap peacefully and sleep through the night. Aaron and I had braced ourselves for a long night but it turned out like any other night. Both kids slept through the night, thankfully.

The kids and I stayed home all day. In his fever-free moments, we played quietly. There was none of the usual, “Mommy, please play with me.” or “Are you going to play with me, Mommy?” I liked it. I disliked it.

I liked not having to feel guilty whenever he asked me if I wanted to play with him because as sick as he was, he never once asked me these questions on Friday. Whenever he does ask me these questions otherwise, I try to ignore the question or distract him with something else or tell him, “Not now, honey. I have to work” or ask Alexa to set a timer for me to wrap up what I am doing so I can play with him.

My sweet child is so attuned to all of this that now right after he has asked me, “Mommy, can you play with me?” rather than wait for my answer, he turns toward Alexa and says, “Alexa, set a timer for 2 minutes”. I am amused and impressed but there have been times when I have scolded him and said, “No, 2 minutes isn’t enough and you don’t get to decide when I play with you.” Harsh. Really harsh. He deserves me, my time.

Why can’t I play with him? Because I am always working. Always. These days, especially so. I think my kids are going to grow up thinking my laptop is an extension of me. Click To Tweet I am sure they delight in our moments outside the home when I am not hooked to a laptop and can freely engage with them. Otherwise, every free moment at home is with my laptop or phone right next to me. Hopefully, things will get better next month once theParentVoice, launches.

So all this being said, Friday turned out a good day for my work because my poor sick child watched TV all day. Apparently, this is what people do here. Aaron grew up watching TV whenever he was sick and now we do this with TJ too. I am not sure what I did when I was sick growing up. All I remember is resting/sleeping/doing nothing all day. Definitely no TV. In fact, I even remember my mother telling us not to watch TV so as not to strain our watery eyes even more. Hmm…who is right? Under what justification?

Worked out great for me though. He laid on the couch next to me, watching Cars. Twice. I had his head nestled against my thigh on one side with my laptop balanced on the rest of my lap. Things were calmer at home. There was a quiet peace to everything. Yet, there was a sadness at not being able to see my child run around, be active, and in general, have the zest for life he usually does. I craved for when he would say, “Can you play with me, Mommy?” just so I could say, “Yes, honey. Absolutely!”.

Saturday: He didn’t have fever when he woke up. This was a good sign. He was lethargic but fever-free all day. We decided to take it easy so I stayed home with him while Aaron took Teju out to a bookstore and later to a birthday party in the evening. He promised TJ he would bring him back some cake (which he did).

We watched Cars. Again. He didn’t eat much of his lunch but he did eat most of his banana which was a good sign. So good infact, that we knew our kid was back when he started throwing things around, acting loud and crazy, emptying the laundry basked of all its contents and strewing them in piles all over our living room, and then using one of my big hair clips and pretending to be an excavator and “dumping” the clothes into the laundry basket-dump truck. He ran around wild like some crazy kid on Red Bull, did not nap, tried to purposely yell so he could wake Teju up from her nap, and in general, behaving like his usual self.

We knew our kid was back!

Both Aaron and I looked at each other and smiled. We had earlier discussed how we miss our child’s usual self but oh just how wonderful this calm was….We didn’t have to yell, threaten, bribe, negotiate, punish…none of it…”Are we bad parents to think like this?,” we had wondered. Perhaps.

The point is, you miss you child’s usual self when he or she is sick and you just want them to get back to their healthy, crazy, happy, and energetic self again. AND, when they are their healthy, crazy, happy, and energetic selves, you can’t wait for them to go to bed or just (not get sick) take a time in and shut up!

Either way, it was interesting to keep track of my thoughts during this entire fever ordeal and be aware of how my priorities, at least at this time, are almost equally distributed between my new work and my children.

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A former Communication Studies professor turned a somewhat reluctant stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I blog about my adventures raising two multiracial kids. I write about parenting and living a multicultural Indian-Canadian-American HinJew life with honesty, a few tears, lots of laughter, and gallons of coffee.
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Follow me: @thephdmama

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