Guys Are The Biggest Babies Ever When Sick

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When either of my children gets sick with the flu, or even a basic cough and cold, I turn into supermom. I lie in bed with them ’til they fall asleep, rub their back, let them eat popsicles and drink ginger ale. But, more important, I have so much innate compassion for them that I can’t really sleep or rest or even smile ’til they’re back to their usual selves. (It’s kind of pathetic, I know, but it’s just how I am.)

When my husband comes down with the flu, well, I want to run for the hills. It’s like I’m a whole other person: irritable, annoyed, unkind. And I wonder: Is it just me or is he being a big f@#ckin’ baby? So I ask a bunch of girlfriends – all of them moms – and the feeling is unanimous. We hate – no, loathe – our husbands when they get sick. A lot of it has to with the drama involved – and their inability to cope.

The other week, for instance, a 12-hour stomach bug traveled through my household. It started at some ungodly hour one weekend while my husband was away on business. I had booked a sitter for Saturday night, grabbed dinner with  girlfriends and crawled into bed at around midnight. At 1:37 a.m., I was awoken by my 2-year-old screaming his head off. I ran into his room and found him sitting up in his crib with vomit everywhere (and I mean everywhere). I cleaned him up, somehow managed to change his sheets and throw in a load of laundry, and then brought him into my bed, where he lay whimpering and lethargic (poor guy).

Then it hit me: I was about to vomit, too! I ran to the bathroom and made it just in time (not to be gross, but it was coming out of both ends). So there I was, sitting on the toilet with the garbage can in front of my face, sweating my ass off and watching my little guy dry heave all over my bed. Following several more trips to the bathroom (first me, then him, then both of us), we  finally fell back asleep at around 5 a.m., only to be woken up promptly at 6:30 a.m. by my 5-year-old demanding TV and breakfast (“I’m staaaaaaaaarving, Mommy!”).

Ah, good times.

But I survived, of course, and could see the humor in the whole situation even while it was happening (it helps to know that it’s just temporary, that we’re blessed with general good health). A couple of days later, my 5-year-old got hit with the same thing. He threw up, cried and, by the next day, was back to regular life.

Fast forward one week and my husband, bless him, starts to feel “a bit under the weather.” He hops into bed, shuts the blinds so that there’s not one iota of light coming through, starts shaking uncontrollably and begins moaning (no, really). “I’m really not well,” he tells me. (For the record, he has no fever and, truth be told, no major symptoms aside from not feeling 100 percent.) I fake compassion, ask if I can get him anything, tell him how sorry I am that he’s not feeling so great, to just rest and get better and not to worry about the kids. My cell phone rings a handful of times (it’s him calling from the land line): can I bring him some ginger ale (flat, please)? Can I pour it into his cup (he’s too week to pour)? Can I bring him some medicine? Do we have a fluffier pillow anywhere in the house? (More shaking, more moaning.)

Twenty-four hours later he emerges, still in sweats and a crusty old tee, asking if I think it’s too “risky” to eat a turkey sandwich (vs. dry toast and soup). “It’s fine,” I tell him, and I know he knows that I don’t believe he’s deathly ill (which he’s not, by the way. If he really were, I’d be nice). By hour 25, he’s miraculously cured, though the next two days are spent telling anyone who will listen how sick he was, how he really got hit hard. ARGH!!!

One friend’s husband missed their daughter’s graduation – a big deal in their family – because he was “dying” (read: his ears hurt when he swallowed).

Another friend can’t get over the difference between men and women when it comes to matters of health. “I want to be kind and caring…but it’s just to pitiful – all that moaning and weeping,” she tells me.

“What really gets me is when I get sick first,” she continues. “I spend a day and a half in bed, then rally to get on with life. When my husband catches it, I’m always shocked by how quickly the virus has mutated. His version is always much, much worse, requiring five days in bed. And then I’m stuck being the nurse when I still feel like crap.”

What is it with guys and illness? Is the “big baby” gene innate? Or is it something their own doting mothers did to them? I leave you with this video called “Man Cold” (it’s an oldie but a goodie! At the very least, it’ll crack you up and make you feel better about your own big baby).

(Photo: erix!)