grumpy about the holidays – day 16 (sick days and spills)

Today is the kids’ second consecutive sick day. Yesterday (Monday) morning, Jesse complained vaguely about her brain and throat hurting, and it coincided with my desperate desire to avoid making her school lunch, so I let her stay home. The smile that covered her face when I announced this decision made me second-guess myself. Nick is in half-day K4, and it seemed like a bother to cart Jesse around as I delivered him to school and picked him up, so I kept Nick home too even though he seemed fine. Yay. More time with the kids.

By last night I realized Jesse really was sick, and Nick pooped his pants and also seemed unnaturally tired. Then in the evening we got a recorded message from the school superintendent. More than a hundred staff and students missed school Monday due to illness. Well then. That’s more than 10 percent of the relevant population. I hemmed and hawed about what to do, but Jesse woke up snotty and unwell this morning, so it was an easy decision to keep both kids home again. More time with the kids. Again. Not so yay.

I think I’m sick too, but not enough to justify feeling sorry for myself. I will anyway. I have a long list of retailers I intended to visit yesterday and today for things like gift cards for family and teachers, and toys for the kids, and I can’t do any of that with my minions hanging around dripping snot and whining about aches and pains. But staying at home all day when they’re sick leaves me addled. Things happen that can’t be explained. I was playing a tune on the piano this morning when Nick appeared at the top of the stairs, screaming incoherently and literally shaking in what appeared to be a state of terror. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

What, what could it be? I asked Nick to tell me what was wrong. “MOMMY!!! I was peeing and I tried to flush the toilet and I held the handle down and down and the water just kept going higher and higher and higher—”

As he said those last words his knife-edge hand moved from his tummy to his forehead in an excellent slo-mo approximation of a military salute.

“—and higher until it went OVER  THE TOP AND JUST KEPT GOING.”

GAH. I raced upstairs and discovered toilet water all over the floor. At least it didn’t contain any turds.

I ended up taking the kids to Whole Foods for lunch. I had to get out of the house, and I needed groceries anyway. We got home from shopping and I hadn’t done the breakfast dishes, and the kids wanted milkshakes and I said yes, and I decided to make a cranberry nut quick bread that’s a holiday favorite in our house.  I’m not sure what I was thinking.

I washed up the dishes. I got through about half the bread prep (zest and juice 3 oranges, chop up cranberries and nuts, mix up some egg replacer, cut fat into dry stuff…). Just then Jesse ran in and demanded a milkshake. Right. I also realized I forgot to put the groceries away. Yikes. Well, at least the ice cream I just bought was really, really soft from sitting out for so long. I put away the groceries quickly and mixed up a couple milkshakes for the kids. I turned back to the cake. I was moving fast by this point. Nick marched in. “Mommy, I need a STRAW!” Right. I was in the middle of a lot so I reached quickly into the back of the pantry shelf where the straws are, about 4 feet off the floor…  And my arm knocked Anthony’s ceramic tea-container off the shelf. It landed with a CRASH. I looked down and saw liquid spreading quickly across the floor. Then I saw the Martinelli’s gallon-size glass apple juice bottle. All of it was missing except the base.

That’s when I started keening.

Jesse giggled from the kitchen table. “Oh my God.”

You know the rest. I managed to shoo Nick and the dog out of the kitchen in a panic (“OUT! OUT!!! OUT!!!”). Jesse went and got a bath towel while I tried desperately to keep the juice from flowing under the refrigerator, and then there was all sorts of cleaning up and picking up broken glass and de-sticky-ing all the surfaces of things that were touched by exploding Martinelli’s apple juice. As I took deep breaths and tried to work my way through the incredible mess, Jesse sat peacefully and enjoyed her milkshake. “Wow Mom, this has been some bad days, huh? I’m sick, and Nick pooped in his pants three times, and all the broken glass, and Nick overflowed the toilet this morning–”

I took the opportunity to interrupt Jesse as I headed to the basement for a box of wet swiffers. I yelled back grimly as I stomped down the stairs, “I guess so, but it could have been worse, it could have been worse.”

I heard Jesse answer from afar, an edge of comic skepticism in her voice, “It could have been worse?”

I hollered again as I headed into the storage closet. “Yes, it could have been worse.”

I got back upstairs and said it one last time, still trying to resign myself to this stupid shit. “It could have been worse.”

Jesse looked at me curiously, a twinkle in her eye. “I guess so, Mom. You mean like, the house could have blown up?”

Yes. Exactly.