You've got to be really, really ill to want to stay home in our family. My eldest daughter had a fever one night. Her head felt like it had swelled five times its size and her throat and ears ached. Still, she dragged herself by her teeth down the hall to the bathroom and took a shower. She was bent on going to school.
But she only summoned the strength to stand for five minutes. She was desperately sick with the flu and reluctantly went back to bed on my command.
Soon enough, the four-year old awoke. My daughter tried to stifle her breathing. If he heard even the faintest noise from her room-like the death of a skin cell-she would be found out. Sure enough, she inhaled and he pounced.
"Rachel's home! Rachel's home! Rachel, are you home? Are you sick? Are you staying home all day?" and so began his incessant chattering.
"Momma!" she croaked.
"Aiden, leave your sister alone. She doesn't feel well."
There is no one who looks more disappointed than our four-year old when he can't visit with an ill sibling. And being under the weather is one thing, but being sick and feeling guilty is too much to bear. Eventually, Rachel gave in and camped out on the sofa.
"Rachel! Move your feet! I'm sitting there! Move your feet! Momma, Rachel's not moving her feet!" He pestered her until she woozily sat up. "Play Candy Land with me!"
"NO! I'M RED, YOU'RE BLUE! I WIN, NOT YOU!"
Her head must have felt like shattered glass. This is why my husband drags himself off to work everyday no matter how he feels. He's got an office all to himself. If I had a room all to myself at home, I'd be in it. I'm sure the teens feel the same way.
But there is no escaping the little one, though I've tried. I have to lock the master bedroom door as well as the bathroom door to ensure a few moments of privacy, but sooner or later somebody picks the locks and I am found out. Even my husband will ask what I am doing.
"What do you think? I'm in the bathroom!" (Oh, sure, it's just me, a bag of chocolate and a stack of magazines to catch up on, but they don't need to know that.) Everybody has their hiding place and stashes of goodies to soothe them.
We don't know when the four-year old took over the house. It was probably when he started screaming "NO!" as a two-year old and then whined through age three. We've given up. We're being held hostage – HELP!