I’ve noticed a pattern of cold-weather, snow day, and illness related posts popping up all over the blogging network the last couple weeks. Now, some people, upon noticing such a pattern, would go out of their way to write something unexpected or original. Maybe something about the migrating swallows of Capistrano, my pink toenail polish, or the ghost that may or may not live in my attic. But not me. I’m going to jump right on that bandwagon. Woohoo! Wait for me!
It’s zero degrees again this morning. My three year old asked me whether zero degrees meant that there was no weather today. Oh, son. If you only knew. Zero is only the beginning of the horrid weather scale. The wind chill is -20. It is currently precipitating some kind of mystery substance that manages to be both a solid and a liquid simultaneously but disappears as soon as it touches the ground. It has absolutely no problem gluing itself to my windshield, but the frozen ground is a no go.
I grew up on in Oregon. We have only one form of precipitation: rain. Sometimes in the winter the rain would fall a little slower and thicker, as slushy rain, but that was pretty much the extent of our weather. If by some miracle the snow would stick, even half an inch, the schools would close and people would refuse to drive. Most of the time you could still see the grass sticking out the top of the snow. The birds would be out digging for worms saying “Hey, we’re only knee deep out here. Get your butts to school!”. Of course, as a child, I didn’t know any better. That was snow. That was as good as it got. We’d pretty much clear the yard of all snow in order to gather enough to make a snow man. We didn’t care.
Not here. If the children’s head stick out above the snow they are expected to wade to school. If it’s warm enough to stand outside without losing a finger or two then the busses are on their way. Until I moved to the midwest I’d never seen anyone other than bank robbers wearing the full balaclava. Imagine my surprise when I saw a hoard of 6 year olds standing on the street in front of my house with big black ski masks and gloves. I locked my door. They looked scrappy.
There’s nothing like a surprise day off school when you’re a kid. It’s like a belated Christmas present. I loved winter as a child. As a parent, I know who else loves winter: germs. Those little buggers thrive in the cold weather. If the temperature drops 50 degrees over night, they throw a snot party and my children are always invited. I think we’ve had one week this entire winter where one of us wasn’t battling some kind of illness. The three year old has looked like Rudolph since before Christmas and the baby has developed a phobia of tissues. If he even sees me look at the tissue box he screams, then gags on the mucus, then smears the snot all over his face. The fight usually ends with a dry tissue and my shirt covered in various bodily fluids.
I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on cold medicine, saline spray, tylenol, ibuprofen, vitamin C, cough medicine, allergy medicine, and pretty much any chemical I can safely administer to my children to stop the screaming. My medicine cabinet is literally taking over my kitchen. It’s actually gotten to the point where we are all medicated ALL the time. I have visions of my children battling tylenol and nose spray addictions, selling their bodies on the street for just one more hit. But that could be the sudafed talking.
I’ve even had to resort to using the snot sucker on a very disapproving baby. I’m not sure if you are all familiar with this disgusting and amazing invention. It’s like a vacuum for your kid’s nose, only you create the suction yourself. With you mouth. Yep. You are literally sucking the boogers out. Of course, there is a filter in your end that keeps the boogers from actually getting in your mouth, but I don’t trust it. Every time I use it I feel like I’m tempting fate. It’s like a snotty version of Russian Roulette.
My body has developed a wonderful coping mechanism for dealing with sick kids. My immune system gathers up all the plague germs that they pass to me on a daily basis. It’s like an old fashioned dude ranch in my blood stream. There are white blood cells on horses driving the germs like cattle toward their holding pen. All the cold and flu viruses in my body are stored in my ear. It’s perfect. It’s out of the way of any major organs, and has no effect on my ability to function on a daily basis. Every time I start to get a cold, I go deaf in one or both ears. I never show any other symptoms. On the one hand, its annoying not being able to hear anything other than sound of your own blood pumping in your veins On the other hand, I can’t hear anything other than the sound of the blood pumping in my veins. No whining. No crying. No coughing. No sniffling. I can close my eyes for a minute and all the chaos of the day just disappears.
Of course I feel terrible for them. They are my babies. Seeing them suffer is like a cold dagger to my heart. But does that mean I also have to hear them suffer? I think not.
I’m sure there is something in the back of my very full medicine cabinet that would relieve my symptoms. What’s one more drug in the long list of my family’s addictions? But I think I’ll just stick to my current regimen of caffeine, hearing loss, complaining, and a glass of wine in the evening. Having a built-in mute button gives me the strength and patience to offer one more hug at 3 am, one more kiss on a snotty forehead, one more dance with a tired but wired baby.
If the system isn’t broken, why fix it?