So, let me tell you a story. It takes place way back in the annals of my time preceding grey hair and stretch marks, but was a parental preparatory event, nonetheless.
One Thanksgiving season, I was sick. Very, very sick. The kind of sick where digging your kidneys out with a teaspoon would be preferable to continuing to feel them. Well, perhaps I overstate the agony, but you understand. I was a sick kid. I was probably about 16 years old and had come down with some type of crud that left me with a nasty fever and hacking cough. Oh, and did I mention that it was Thanksgiving? The one and only year that I missed out on Thanksgiving. In fact, I slept right through it. But that isn’t the important part. That came on Friday. Thanksgiving break and no school for either myself or my little sister.
I was still sick, but feeling ever so slightly better. Just “better enough” not to warrant my mom taking a day off from work to stay home with me. So there I was, all pasty, fever-ridden, and just wanting to sleep, but with a 6 year old sister home with me. She was (still is) the kind of kiddo that loves to care for things: small bunnies, chirping baby birds, stray cats. So, having her older sister home sick was like a gift from above.
My mother had told her several things that might comfort me if I was not feeling well and my sister had taken them all to heart. This was a precocious little person who could run the microwave with wild abandon. So every 30 minutes, or whenever a commercial came on, she brought me something warm to drink. Bouillon, tea, water with lemon and honey, on and on. I’d roll an eyelid up far enough to focus on the steaming cup, take a few scalding sips and then place it on my bedside table with the previous beverage offerings. By the time my mom got home, I had the entire contents of the cabinet lined up besides me – sentries guarding me from another round of fever.
Well, it must have worked because I did, indeed, feel better the next day.
So, what in the name of a steaming pile of pancakes does this have to do with parenting today? Not much except that when I’m sick, I like to be left alone in a feverish, sleeping stupor. And when my kids are sick, I really, really try to be caring like my sister.
Today, I could go for a cup of tea, stirred by the hand of the most adorable little 6 year old with chocolate drops for eyes. Today, I could go for that little imp to scooch over next to me and put her little wrist to my forehead and proclaim, “I think you feel better!” Today, I could go for a little bit of care. But since I’m the mom these days and my sister is all grown up with a family of her own, I’ll just have to make my own dang tea, pop a few more Advil and try to look interested as my little nearly-6 year old with eyes the color of a stormy day tells me about her day at school.
Sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to just be little again?