Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sick Day

My thirteen year old daughter is staying home from school today. *

She has a sore throat.

It's not too bad, but frankly she's coming off of three days of standardized testing and the eighth grade is still testing today so they're not letting the seventh graders in the halls, thus no class switches. Also, today is Take Your Child to Work Day. Thus the school has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to show the seventh graders movies. She can watch movies at home in her jammies. A little rest on a little sore throat can do a world of good.

Sometimes you just have to make the call.

But that's not what I wanted to write about.

She is feeling crummy. Low grade crummy, but crummy all the same.

She is in her jammies.

As I type, she is watching 'Blue's Clues'.

I mentioned she was thirteen, right?

Not exactly the target demographic.

I tried to just blow it off, but when my teenaged daughter started yelling - in as much as one yells with a sore throat - answers at the screen, I couldn't resist a little ribbing. "Wow, Lea! Good for you! You just figured out Blue's clues, because you're really smart! (yeah!)"

She looked sheepish, but didn't change the channel.

At least she's not watching the source of all evil, Kathy Lee Gifford. So it could be worse.

As I rolled my eyes at the sight of my daughter, taking up the whole sofa with her gangly arms and legs, helping Steve solve mysteries, I thought about how being sick makes all of us regress. Children long past the thumb sucking phase will take comfort in their thumb, children who never want to cuddle will curl up in their parents lap, stuffed toys and lovies long neglected are clung to once again. I suppose when you take all of that into consideration, it's not so ridiculous for an adolescent to want to watch shows geared towards preschoolers.

Me? I want my mom. When I don't feel well, I want my mom. This makes next to no sense at all. My mom was an RN, and, as such was very matter-of-fact and rarely sympathetic. She was much more of a 'brush yourself off, you'll be fine' sort of parent than an 'oh, you poor sweet baby, let Mommy kiss it and make it better' sort of parent. When she erred, it was not on the side of caution. I went to school with mono for two weeks my sophomore year of high school because 'you're just burning the candle at both ends. There's nothing wrong with you a decent night's sleep won't fix.' When my throat swelled completely shut, she was forced to take notice. I think she still feels a little bad about that. I'm sure that is in no way related to the fact that I remind her of it every year or so.

Her mother, my grandmother, was even less big on the coddling.

And yet, when I'm not feeling well, this is how I take comfort:

I wrap myself in the quilt my grandmother made me. She gave me the quilt as a gift when I graduated from high school. She pieced it together from scraps of dresses she'd made for me when I was little. It's seen better days, but somehow that just makes it all the more special. So Grandma didn't coddle. And she didn't cuddle. But she quilted. And that's a hug I can still wrap myself in now - a decade after she left this earth.

I call my mom, who usually engages in one of those 'well, what YOU need to do...' diatribes that I hate so much, I say, but I keep going back for more. Then she'll call me every couple hours till I'm well, to make sure I'm heeding her advice. I roll my eyes like a teenager when the phone rings, but between you and me? There's a large part of me that's wishing I was lying on her sofa rather than my own.

I drink flat 7-up with a straw. Because that's what Mom gave me when she would finally give in and admit I was sick. Flat 7-up through a straw and jello. Jello with a spoon. We were cold, we weren't weird.

And I eat rice pudding. Yeah, that one is sort of extraneous. No connection to my childhood, but it gives me comfort. I try not to spend too much time analyzing it.

So. Just us Howard girls? Or do you regress when you're sick, too?

And please always remember and don't ever forget, that with me and you, and my dog Blue we can do anything that you wanna do...

*She gave full approval on my taking and using this pic. And FWIW? The blanket she's chosen to wrap herself in is one her dear old mom made from old T-shirts. A different era of sentimentality and comfort.


Bass Is Life said...

As you well know, when I'm sick, I (like many men) am a big baby. My source of comfort during these times? Old TV shows. Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, The Munsters, anything I can find. Preferably from the 60's, but no later than the 70's.

Housewife Savant said...

Another beautifully written post, and Seriously TOO Ironic!
My 12 YO is home, semi-suffering, on the couch with 3YO Daycare Kid, watching and "helping" Dora. They were both gawping brainlessly when I threatened to Blog The Moment.
I could never knock it out of the park like you did.
I love this story.
We "do" flat 7Up faithfully. I'll even put salt in it to take out the fizz. When I'm not sick and forced to drink 7Up because of limited choices I FEEL like I'm sick. A little.
Another one of our remedies (or comforts) is bananas in milk.
A third tried and true sickbed item is Pringles. Gross I know, and bad nutrition definitely, but I've added Pringles to our Heritage because I've always loved salt to settle my gut.
There you have it; the Savant Family Cure. I'm only missing one item - your Grammie's quilt.

mama-face said...

Mostly I want to say how much I love your thought-provoking posts. How do find time to be so insightful and then write it down so perfectly?

Not gushing...all truth.

Every time I get sick I get all paranoid that I will NEVER feel better. I don't know what that weirdness is all about.

Probably not your main thought, but when I saw kathie lee i almost choked with laughter. I am so waiting for Hoda to lose it and punch K.L. right on the nose, or knock off of her chair.

Tammy Howard said...

Ah yes! That will be a fine day indeed! But I'll have to catch it on The Soup, cause when they cue the music that her hour is beginning I dive for the remote like a thing possessed. You are my SNL watching friend, right? How spot on is Kristen Wiigs impression? I laugh harder than anyone in my family, always saying, "you just can't IMAGINE how much she's NOT exaggerating!"

Anita said...

Tammy, I really enjoy the way you write. I love the quilt your grandmother made you, so very special.
I am much like you, I want someone to comfort me when I feel lousy. My mom lives 1000 miles away, and in her advancing years she's become less sympathetic to me, but she's great with my kids, go figure. If I call her no, she will one up me with aches and pains and ailments.
Oddly enough, what is it about 7 up when sick. Not Sprite, it's not the same, and ours didn't have to be flat, just no ice, slightly chilled, and yes on the straw, and she didn't hand out straws at random, it was like they were expensive.
I hope your daughter is feeling better soon, and you are right, at times you just have to make the call about when it's better to stay home.

Karen said...

"Feel Good Floats" Sherbet and 7Up with the bendy straw was something my Gramma always made when i was sick. (MUST be a bendy isn't right without it) My wonderful husband has taken this tradition and made it ours. Whenever one of the Baskind ladies isn't feeling well, you can bet he will bring home a 2 liter and a tub from Kroger.
When I feel bad physically, I find I miss my Gramma more. You know how I feel about her and how much I miss her daily, but when i feel crappy, it's so much worse. (I'm tearing up just talking about this.)
I firmly believe in traditions..I love them and find so much comfort from them. This lovely post has made me realize why. I want my children to find comfort in their adult lives from what we gave them as children. I want them to find relief from a feel good float. I want them to feel the love of a warm blanket, fresh from the dryer. That warmth might not be from their Mommy, but they will remember how much Mom loves them and in turn, they will feel better.
As a Mom, could we want anything more?

linda said...

Just stopping by and thought I'd leave a comment, hope you don't mind.

I had to chuckle because I'm a nurse too and I think I'm kinda like your mom. I really think it stems from the fact that we hear people whining and complaining all day long so we certainly don't want to hear it at home too! No excuse thought I know!

Oh yes, 7-up...that was the staple when we were growing up and were sick. 7-up and crackers!

I hope your daughter feels better soon. Sore throats are no fun!

Take care and have a great day!

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

Men become the biggest babies when they're sick. I know, because I'm guilty.

Yes, we all regress when sickness comes. There is great comfort in becoming the helpless child once again.

When my mother died from breast cancer when I was a Senior in high school, this class president...high school jock...would come straight home from school and turn on "Mr. Roger's". Yep, King Friday helped me deal with a tremendous loss!

Thank God for you who are mother's! We would be in a living hell without you.

By the way, quilts are a dying art. My two grandmothers made me about 36, which I keep in a Cedar Chest and use on occasions, like getting sick.

Thank you and your friends for a wonderful insight.

Sir Hook of Warrick

Jenny Penny said...

Yes! My mom used to tuck us in on the couch, set up a sofa-side table with Saltines and 7-Up and books and paper and crayons and such. And she ran her fingers over our scalps and through our tangled, fever-sweaty hair. Ahhh, it almost makes me want to be sick right now. Almost.

I love the quilt made of your old dresses. Even I would feel comforted and snuggly using that thing, purely for the sentiment of a grandma that went into it!

Pam said...

I love so much about this post.
I love that your daughter watches Blue's Clues when she's sick. I totally get not being a coddling kind of mom. I'm the "pick yourself up, brush yourself off and go to school kind of mom", too. Maybe there's hope that I'm not scarring my kids - since you still want your mom when you're sick. I LOVE the quilts/blankets made of old dresses and t-shirts. I would love to do this for my girls - if I could sew. But, the thing I love the most is that you called Kathy Lee Gifford the source of all evil! Amen to that! I can NOT stand that woman. Have you see the SNL skits of her and Hoda? Hilarious! Awesome post!

cass said...

I can remember your mom saying ,"its not a hurricane- you are looking out the wrong window- go for a walk on the beach.." and we did. And swam in the lower pool with our clothes on. We felt better, even if it was storming. Moms have the effect to make us believe it will be all ok, and it usually is.
I have made a blanket for mine out of her tshirts, its not square, or rectangle, or even a regular polyhedron. But it holds her memories as well as I reminder I may not sew straight, but I tried and it works to give some warmth and comfort. She still has in a ball under her bed or under her pillow (depeneding on the severity of teen drama that week) her Tigger blanket I hand sewed when I was pregnant with her. He has lost his terry cloth stripes, he has lost his velvet tongue, eyes, ears, and most of the layers that once made up his body. The batting is gone, the top layer and the back plaid flannel is gone- all remains is the muslin I used to hold the middle togther with the 3rd round of pink (the first two white ribbon bindings never lasted) ribbon binding. It was never a real rectangular shape either. But her thumb and her blanket got her through some scrapes as a babe, and now; with braces waiting to come off, she still rubs it a little when noone is looking.
I would say to Sir Hook to get his quilts out and use them and love them. Life is too short as witnessed by the funeral I went to today. But the love and the warmth shared in family moments will not die if we keep it out of the linen closet and on the couch for comfort.
In our family it is now Mrs Grass' soup with buttered crackers and milk. Or iced gatorade with the straw- always the straw, bendy here as well. We snuggle, we watch the Muppet Show, Sesame Street or the Dog Whisperer... it doesn't matter they are 15, 12 and 10...snuggle time never gets old. We have shifted to the classics- King and I and Fidller on The Roof since Han was hospitalized- (I have found they are more open to your ideas when they are stuck in a hospital bed.).....but on the flip side she will always remember the fun and arguments and loveas I sat by her bedside 5 days and night in hopsital every time she hears TRADITION!! Tradition!
In the end I think we all need some tradtions to hang onto. Some we cling to, some we create anew awash in the pain of losing the foundation that held those same traditions near and dear. In the thought train of Theo Geisel.. As long as we have hands to clasp.......

Gibby said...

7-UP here too! Or flat gingerale. Unfortunately I cannot drink either of those when I am not sick.

If I am sick, my mom will STILL tell me to use Vics Vaporub. Then I am all "eeeew, Mom, that is disgusting." However, I found myself using it on Chuckles the last time she was sick and she said...

"eeww, Mom, this is gross!"

Art Spectrum said...

What a sweet post!
Isn't it funny how being sick conjures up fond memories of childhood.(the times that we felt the worst but the most loved).
I love the sentiment about your grandma's quilt. IT makes me want to learn how to quilt so I can leave behind something so special.