Note: This is an edited re-post of something I wrote back in 2008. Since then, Flu Boy and Grouchy Girl have gained a baby sister. I call her "Bottomless Baby" just at present, as she seems to have been born with two hollow legs. I only mention her because I can't imagine what I would have done had she been in the mix when the following ocurred. Enjoy!
A kid with the 'flu is among the best examples of chaos theory I have ever experienced because as soon as a kid says "Mommy, I don't feel good", life as you know it ceases. Then begins the process of Trying To Get The Kid Well, which is fraught with both Dreadful Knowns and Super-Dreadful Unknowns that affect aspects of life that you never would have thought to associate with a limp kid on the couch for a week or so.
The first day of Nigel's symptoms, he was very lethargic and had a fever, didn't want to have school but wasn't really coughing or having gastrointestinal issues so I labeled it "the sniffles" and got lucky enough to have Grandma whisk MaryJane off for a day of errands so he just crashed on the couch and zoned out to Hannah-Barbera's Finest in peace and quiet. On Day Two, his fever spiked and he lost his voice so it was Doctor Time, where they swabbed his nose and determined that he had the 'flu and prescribed Tamiflu, told me to keep him quiet and resting and to control his fever with Tylenol or Motrin. The whole time we were at the doctor's office, MaryJane exercised her very best three-year-old efforts to destroy the place while I tried to prevent the destruction at arm's length because Nigel was lying limply in my lap with his frosty fingers shoved into my armpits. Then we were off to get the medicine, so I strapped Hurricane MaryJane into a shopping cart, put Nigel into the cart as well and cruised around the store getting soup, juice, tissues, Jell-O and Tylenol while they filled the prescription. $80 later, we headed home to dose the lad. I'll say this--that Tamiflu stuff works pretty well because by Day Three he was peppy enough to start bouncing off the walls again, albeit more slowly and punctuated by short periods of stillness. He also felt well enough to eat something, but after one taste of the Danny Phantom Chicken Noodle Soup he thought was such hot stuff in the store and insisted (weakly) that we get, he labeled it "icky". Because the cart was full of children I only bought the bare necessities and assuming that he'd be chowing down on Soup N' Crackers for the forseeable future, I got six cans and pretty much nothing else so Flu Boy was stuck with Danny Phantom, no matter how icky he is. After the diagnosis, nobody would take MaryJane off my hands so she had been knocking heads with Flu Boy since Day Two and by Day Four she was royally sick of Speed Buggy and quiet time and so she elected to entertain herself by bothering her brother, dropping one Lego at a time onto his sleeping body until he woke up in a poky plastic pile, building a "tent" that she wouldn't allow him to enter and begging him to read to her and getting angry and storming around when he wouldn't because he had lost his voice. Nothing is funnier than a little blonde girl wearing a "Shark Patrol" t-shirt and a Disney Princess pull-up storming around and yammering loudly in Danny Kaye Gibberish Language with the occasional real word thrown in for context, but she didn't find it funny that I found her funny.
As Warden of this den of snot and conflict, I had to figure out how to keep Grouchy Girl out of Flu Boy's face and still keep them both in a 400 square-foot area, so I showed Grouchy Girl how to use the remote control to the Spongebob Squarepants DVD player in Flu Boy's room, permitting her to watch "Curious George Goes To The Hospital" 87 times in a row while Flu Boy crashed on the couch. This gambit worked for about nine hours, which is approximately 300 viewings of good old George and a good day's rest for Flu Boy. During that nine hours there was a freak dust storm that I somehow missed between teaching basic remote techniques and talking Flu Boy into accepting the bald fact that we would be eating Danny Phantom Chicken Noodle Soup until we could get back to the grocery store, which to him equaled The End Of Time. The dust storm kicked up all kinds of pollen, mold and other Certified Lung Clogging Crap into the air, sending anyone with sinuses into Allergy Hell, rendering Grandma utterly useless and triggering a chain reaction of consequences that hit this place like Chernobyl was just down the block. The Husband Person, who was just recovering from a sinus infection, got out his DayQuil and tea again, sighing a little as he resigned himself to another week of seeing little pink Christina Aguillera Monsters at the corners of his monitor all day long. I went into Total Shutdown Mode and slept all day Sunday, leaving poor snot-crusted Husband Person to deal with the fact that by now, Grouchy Girl was bored with George, but not with sitting on Flu Boy's bed and working the remote. Her solution: Ask Daddy to change the disc every 90 seconds. Grouchy Girl was also feeling the effects of the dust storm, but they were limited at first to mild mucous and red eyes, which left her even grouchier and more high-maintenence because now, in addition to begging Daddy to change the disc, she was also shagging into the living room screeching "SNOTTY NOSE!" periodically and then howling when someone desnotted her because by now her nose was chaptastic.
On Monday, Flu Boy was feeling much better, but either the dust storm or the Tamiflu had given him a case of what he likes to call "the squeezies". The Husband Person was off work and with everyone feeling so awful I expected him to stake out the big chair and 'Quil the day away, but he had some Truck-Related Shenanigans to do so he grabbed Flu Boy and headed out as soon as the shower unclogged him enough to breathe. I was still stuck in Allergy Hell and on Benadryl, which makes "The Wiggles" much more fascinating but makes doing anything but watching "The Wiggles" seem like designing and constructing an ampitheater all by yourself. Grouchy Girl, who stayed home with me, took advantage of my zoned state to go into Flu Boy's room and take all of his puzzles and spread the pieces evenly over the entire room. Sorting puzzle pieces on Benadryl is like watching old people get it on and trying to sort puzzle pieces on Benadryl and while Grouchy Girl is screaming for you to stop is like watching old people get it on in the mosh pit at Ozfest. One tantrum-induced nap later, Grouchy Girl had forgiven me for destroying her destuction, Flu Boy was home and I was trying to come up with a meal consisting of sour cream, eggs, graham crackers and Danny Phantom Chicken Noodle Soup until The Husband Person unearthed a box of frozen fish sticks, which he cooked and served while I was trapped in a seemingly endless telephone survey about my mouthwash choices.
By Tuesday morning, we'd made it to the Ninth Circle of Allergy Hell, which was enough to drive Grouchy Girl to utter flatness and me right along with her so both of us lay on the couch together and I provided commentary for "The Wiggles" while she hugged onto me and groaned. Flu Boy was lucky enough to be feeling well enough for Grandpa to invite him over to put a zillion-piece Lego set together. We got through the day, one tissue at a time, until we had to get ourselves together to go hit the little grocery store here in town, which had been hit by every Mother Of A Flu-Ridden Kid already, so they had sour cream, eggs, graham crackers, canned chili and pretty much nothing else. Lacking the strength to come up with anything really creative, I boiled up some macaroni and served it with spaghetti sauce, thinking that the kids love spaghetti and they love macaroni and cheese, so this should be Kid Heaven, right? Wrong. I hadn't counted on Chunky Mushroom. Some invisible, silent-to-adults agent of Kid Wisdom whispered to my children that Mushrooms Are Not To Be Trusted and they revolted en deux, Flu Boy by going fetal on the couch and hiding from his dinner under a big blanket and Grouchy Girl by flicking mushroom shards at the back of my head and whining "I don't like dis...I don't like dis...I don't like dis..." in a monotone until I whisked it away and gave her some Jell-O out of sheer desperation, an act that backfired almost immediately because that same agent of Kid Wisdom encouraged her to exact revenge for exposing her to mushrooms by quietly dumping the Jell-O onto the floor while I was under the covers with Flu Boy, trying to convice him to emerge by telling him that I'd gone outside and buried his dinner out by the old septic tank. We both emerged to find Grouchy Girl covered in red slime, cooing proudly about her latest work of Nihilist art, the Jell-O Floor Sculpture. I got The Whinamic Duo into the tub for de-sliming and they happily played together in the tub UNTIL I turned my back for fresh jammies, which was the opportunity they had been waiting for to dump a gallon of water over the side and use the distraction to pull The Great Tub Escape, fleeing through the Jell-O-covered kitchen where Grouchy Girl slipped and fell, producing a perfect Jell-O butt-print, a thousand tears and a need for re-tubbing, after which both children were put to bed early and unceremoniously, because I had Officially Had Enough.