However your morning began, I can only assume you did not greet the day in the following manner:
‘Mom, I have measles!’
[Comatose brain barely recognizes voice of oldest boy-child.]
‘Um, wha-a-at?! Come here please.’ I croak, equal parts annoyed at the brutal invasion of my last few minutes of sleep and alarmed that my child who’s been sick since Monday may have some vile illness against which I likely neglected to vaccinate him.
He marches into my room and lifts up his shirt to demonstrate the presence of measles.
But my ageing, unawake eyes are unable to spot a measle not the size and color of a bull’s eye.
‘Can you come here,’ I beseech my [highly contagious, public health hazard] blond wonder. He takes two steps forward and thrusts his arms towards me at an angle, that I might gaze upon the measles and take pity on him. I still cannot see anything. I rub my fingers over his hand, trying to feel a measle into existence and…..nothing.
‘Are you talking about these spots here,’ my eyes settle on a small cluster of darkened dots.
‘Yeah,’ he nods fervently. As if to say ‘finally, someone believes me.’
‘Those are moles,’ I point at each brown spot on his hand and his arm and his face. ‘You’ve had them for a long time.’ Like, years.
I’m not really sure what happened next – on account of the whole ‘not awake’ business. But I think the professor, who’d been standing behind our alarmist-in-training howled silently. And the Gort left my room and I willed myself to fall back asleep.
Because our house has been overrun by illness for the last week, and between the coughing and a kid who suddenly grinds his teeth and the late nights watching Netflix with Percy, who sleeps all day and isn’t quite ready for bed at 8, I’m a little tired. I’m probably sick too, but with four sets of xy chromosomes fully invested in every aspect of their man-cold, I can’t very well detract from their suffering with my own.
Our Netflix marathon began two nights ago when, in an effort to distract Percy from his general misery, I suggested we watch a movie. Perhaps other parents would click on Scooby-Do and endure it, but I’d already done that….earlier in the day. I had sat through – dozing on occasion – every single one of its 86 minutes and nearly died in the process. Forget, in the words of Chris Rock, the unfairness of Will Smith getting paid $20 million to make Wild Wild West, let’s talk about Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr being allowed to make not one, but two, Scooby-Do movies.
Thus I figured if I was forfeiting my evening by huddling with a germ ball, then I should at least be allowed to watch a movie that is not animated. Vitus has been on ‘my list’ for ten years, yet I never seem to be in the ‘let’s watch a movie about a boy-prodigy’ mood. But as the main character is a young boy, it stood a small chance of appealing to my six year old non-pianist, non-prodigy. So we watched it. Subtitles and all.
I didn’t think about the fact that subtitles are geared towards people who can read things….quickly. Percy, who is a pretty good reader, but only six, would whisper-read each word and then, once he got halfway through a sentence the words suddenly disappeared from the screen; replaced by new dialogue.
Strangely he never complained about this, just moved on to the next half-sentence. There’s no telling what he gleaned from reading half the movie, but he watched it all the way to the credits. Which is more than I can say for Boychoir, last evening’s 9pm selection.’This movie is boring,’ Percy balked within the first five minutes, repeating his opinion at regular intervals until I finally turned it off.
The thing is, he was right. It was a boring movie. He was about to pick something else [lame] when it occurred to me I could attempt to compensate for our slovenly, un-educational ways by choosing one of the documentaries on My List. Not unlike the time I watched Lost Boys of Sudan with the Gort. When he was three.
‘How about this movie,’ I suggested and selected On the Way to School.
More subtitles. More whisper-reading. Yet we (or at least I) were thoroughly engrossed watching four children from various corners in the world embark on their ‘walk’ to school. A 15km hike-run, dodging elephants and giraffes in Kenya. Two young children on horseback in Patagonia. A 22km stroll through the Atlas Mountains for a girl in Morocco, and most sobering of all: two small Indian boys around Percy’s age pushing their rusty-wheelchair-bound older brother to school, for more than 3 kilometers. Though it felt like 30, watching those small boys struggle with the wheelchair.
I thought about the way my boys hand over their coats and backpacks when I pick them up at the end of the day, muttering words like ‘too tired’ or ‘too heavy.’ I guess that’s why the documentary failed to include two North American brothers walking 700 steps to their neighborhood school.
Though all this quality time with my ipad has been undeniably interesting (save those 86 minutes with Velma and Daphne), after a week of having sick kids at home I can’t help but feel that I am never going to get anything done. Ever again. (I guess measles boy comes by his flair for drama honestly.) But seriously. I was talking to someone over the weekend. ‘I’m writing a book,’ she told me excitedly about her idea for a Sheryl Sandberg-esque book. In addition to her full-time job. And having three kids. Cue the neighborhood newsletter that landed in my mailbox today, featuring a volunteer of the month who – when she’s not volunteering in the ‘hood – works as a geophysicist, has a couple of kids and is training for a marathon.
I can barely spell geophysicist. I jogged for all of 17 minutes last week. And it took me approximately 21 days to follow up on one of the boys’ teacher requests for baby photos. How I fill my time and why I can’t manage to do so in the driven, productive manner of many other women around me…..is a mystery for the ages.
One I intend to investigate…..just as soon as these boys are back in school and I have some time on my hands.
But now, it’s 11:40pm and the six year old with the clogged nose and bright red cheeks is calling for me and my ipad. We’re only halfway through ‘Living on One Dollar.’