Daddies aren’t supposed to get sick. That must be a rule among little kids because they never believe that Daddy feels like crap and needs to be left alone for a while.
It’s funny how little respect my five-year-old has for my illnesses considering how much attention he demands on his own sick days. When he’s sick, the house is his palace and the other people who live there are his servants. Before the sundry whims which may require action from Mommy and Daddy, there are certain base-line needs that should be met without him having to ask. He needs the entire couch commandeered for his reclining wants, and the TV tuned to cartoons for the duration of his infirmity. Beyond this, he needs a ready attendant to keep the blanket covering his feet should it slip when he changes position. And juice. There must always be juice at hand.
When I am sick, I mostly need the people in my house to leave me alone. I can get my own juice and fluff my own pillows; I just don’t want people climbing all over me or demanding that I supply juice to maintain them in the pink of health. I want to be left to myself. Apparently, this is a burdensome request.
If I am home from work when my son gets home from school, it likely means I’m ill. To him, it means play time starts early. He greets me with his favorite question, “Daddy, what can we play?” When I tell him I’m too sick to play, it’s a disappointment to him. But he’s a resilient lad, and he sloughs off the disappointment with everything else I’ve told him, so that within five minutes, he sees the world fresh and asks with renewed enthusiasm, “Daddy, what can we play?”
He is not the only one who easily forgets why I am at home at this unusual time. My wife does not think I make a very good patient either. She says I don’t complain enough when I’m sick; therefore I appear to be little more than a slacker playing hooky from work. If I moaned and groaned a bit more, she would perhaps be reminded that I do not need to be whipped up out my laziness with a steady course of housework.
There is always laundry to be done, and since I am neither comatose nor moaning, as a truly ill person would be, I might as well use this down time to lend a hand to operational needs of the household. She has this look she gives when the dryer finishes its cycle that says, “If you didn’t want to work today, you should have gone into the office.”
I was taught to suffer quietly, so I can only blame my parents. If they had raised a squeakier wheel, maybe that wheel could get a sufficient break from playing games and folding towels to get a little rest when it was sick.