When I was a little girl I got sick a lot. I have some pretty vivid memories of laying in the near dark, feverish, head buzzing, watching the rest of the family move about, conducting their normal daily activities. You can believe I felt plenty sorry for myself.
My parents were not the “make your kids suck-it-up” type parents. I know that now because my husband had those kind of parents. His parents were the, “Oh, you have a 6 inch, bleeding gash on your leg? Here’s a teaspoon of Robitussin. Now, go to school,” type of parents.
Scott’s parents did not let silly things like fevers, vomiting or blood stop them from showing up and getting the job done. They had a name for their famous family cure-all. It was a special homemade remedy called, “Ignore it and it’ll go away.” Truly a stellar parental move. My husband and his siblings are tough as nails. As adults they miss work about once a decade.
Meanwhile, my mom was bringing me trays of food in bed, running me to the Doctor, making ice rings for my throat and mixing sugar with crushed aspirin to make it more palatable. Pa was always good for some sympathy too. I’m sorry guys (mom and dad), but this seems like a good time to tell you that sometimes I made stuff up. I’ve been feeling pretty badly about that for the last 30 years or so. I wouldn’t have done it, except, well…it’s complicated. It’s just that being served hot chocolate and peanut butter toast on a tray in front of the TV seemed more fun than going school. I knew you’d understand.
Scott and I got married and there’s your episode of “Two Worlds Colliding”. I remember when we were dating and I had a nasty cough and a fever. I figured once he saw how awful I looked and felt, he’d feel really sorry for me, and that would be okay too. Well, he wasn’t exactly sympathetic. Unless acting slightly irritated is a sign of sympathy.
Scott is smart though, and he tries to make me happy. Over the years he has learned how to imitate the socially acceptable behavior of a husband with a sick wife. If I’m out of commission he will open the bedroom door a crack, stick his head in for a moment and ask in a robotic voice, “Are you okay? Do you need anything”? I almost get my answer out too before the door is quietly shut and he disappears until the fever is gone.
Having a son with a chronic illness has provided us with ample opportunities to express these learned behaviors. Scott’s been doing this mind of matter thing since before it was cool. And I am super good at making a fuss over sick people (especially if they’re my kids). Hopefully, throwing what we both know in the same pot will be just the right mix. Or, there’s a decent chance we could be doing it all wrong. But, I have at least learned that there are times you just need a little extra attention; other times you need to be told to take a teaspoon of Robitussin and get your butt to school.