Taking the kids outside of the house means exposing them to germs. Forget fresh air; people don’t cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze around town.
Since I can’t actually isolate my children, they do get sick. My son started getting a fever on Tuesday evening—101.4 going up to 102—which pretty much shut me down with worry for the rest of the night. Yes, despite me knowing that it’s not even that high of a fever.
It’s not so much worry as it is dread, I think. Author Orson Scott Card once wrote about dread: “It is that tension, that waiting that comes when you know there is something to fear but you have not yet identified what it is. The fear that comes when you first realize that your spouse should have been home hours ago; when you hear a strange sound in the baby’s bedroom; when you realize that a window you are sure you closed is now open, the curtains billowing, and you’re alone in the house.”
(I’m pretty sure that’s what I remember reading from a story collection of his back in high school. I couldn’t find the quote firsthand, so I turned to the Internet for help and can’t vouch for its total accuracy. I mean, it seems fine, but often so do words of wisdom mistakenly attributed to Einstein and Lincoln.)
At bedtime, I read a story packed with similes to my girls, and we took turns practicing creating some of our own: “We are as cozy as … ”
“Mice!” my firstborn said.
“We’re as sleepy as … ”
“Mice!” she said again.
I then turned to specifics of our family, saying one girl was as sweet as … and the other was as fun as … . Then I threw out: “Your brother is as sick as … ”
“A sick baby!” my secondborn shouted.
While my firstborn said, “Cancer!”
The little dude’s fever was gone the next day, and I know modern medicine has relegated to folklore the idea of teething causing a temperature rise, but darned if he didn’t have a giant tooth sticking out of his gums where there was just a little sliver of white before.