Being sick is the worst when you’re an adult because you feel like poop but people still expect things from you. Being sick when you’re a kid is also the worst for adults, because they expect nothing from children but are also treated like poop. Whatever happened to everybody staying in bed and sleeping all day? Where have those magical days gone?
When your kids first get sick, you feel terrible for them. These poor little people who are used to running around and feeling invincible get completely taken down by fevers and coughs. You want to cuddle them and medicate them and make them healthy again.
That lasts for an afternoon. After that, you want to throttle your drippy, phlegmy little weasels.
It’s awful, but the truth is that sick kids are total assholes. First of all, they have no idea how good they have it. They’re kids! They don’t have to worry about sick time or parenting or vet appointments or anything. They can just find a spot on the floor, lie down, stay there for a few days, and the world won’t know the difference. They cry about how bad they feel, but can’t see the upside to it. Why? Because they don’t have any responsibilities to be relieved from! It’s like when your kids are little, and you’re barely able to stay awake while they fight you about taking a nap. They don’t know that you would consider giving up a leg in exchange for twelve hours of sleep. You may have never thought you’d be jealous of a toddler with diarrhea, but that’s parenting.
Second, when they get a little older and do figure out how good they have it, they milk it. Eventually, they start to figure out that when they’re sick they get way more leeway than they do when they’re healthy. Being sick means popsicles and movies and “of course I’ll get you another glass of milk, you poor baby.” And that is a pretty goddamn good deal. The bad news is that we, their parents, have been kids before, and we are on to their lies. When we hear that gravely voice saying, “Mom, I don’t feel good,” we know it’s b.s. You’re either going to need to make yourself have a fever or force yourself to throw up before you get to stay home from school today, small friend.
Third, they take out all of their bad feelings on you. Sick kids are mean. That’s one of the first signs of illness in kids, in fact: behaving unusually shitty. They are crabby and impatient and don’t like any of your suggestions. You want to take some medicine and go to bed but you also don’t want any medicine and would like to stay awake? No problem. I’ll just whip up that alternate reality for you. So not only are you having to take care a sick child, but you have to take care of a sick child who hates you. It’s bad times.
Finally, any sleep you were managing to get before your child got sick is almost certainly gone. You’re going to be giving your kid a bath at three a.m., wiping vomit off their floor at four, and then laying in bed with them at five because Lord knows you won’t be getting any more sleep tonight so why not. Will you feel like a jerk when you listen to your kid coughing in the middle of the night and hate them with every fiber of your being? Yes, you will. Will I understand and give you a sympathy hug? Also yes.
(Photo: Stanislav Fridkin / Shutterstock)