We have had colds all week. And I mean all of us. It started on Monday with #6. Sniffling, sneezing. No big deal. I stocked up on Kleenex (you would think with three teenage boys I would have Kleenex by the case, but I digress.) and juice and Lysol’d everything in sight. Normally, with the first sign of any kind of cold we go into quarantine mode. It is impossible to imagine the lunacy of having so many children all come down with the plague like dominoes falling. But it happens. Thankfully only once a year.
#6 cannot be quarantined. She has to have attention on her at every second of every day. Spending the day in her room by herself was not going to happen. Than #7 started sneezing. And his nose ran like the Mississippi River in the spring after a winter thaw. Okay, 2 out of 9 was not bad. I could take those odds.
I warned the older children that they need to actually wash their hands and not interact with the little ones. Which sounds way easier than it actually is. #3 was the first big kid to fall. He was miserable. I loaded him up with cold medication and Kleenex and juice and sent him upstairs to his room. #4 said his throat was sore but he was fine. Vitamin C and juice and again, hand washing. #1 (who only moved out last year) came to visit and was warned of the potential for being sick. She was brave. She was so so brave. Than she too was down for the count. #5 was the only hold out (#2 chose to stay away so he was the smart one in the group.) #5 woke up on Wednesday with a slight fever and cough and again, quarantine.
Then … then S.O. started coughing. It started small. He swore that he did not feel sick and did not have a cold. Everything was still okay at this point. Yes, the kids were miserable and sick but they were staying quiet and sleeping most of the time. If S.O. became infected, the patient count would be 8:1. I was the 1. And S.O. , like #6, requires attention and cannot be left alone.
He was sick. He was coughing, he couldn’t hear, his glands were swollen, his eyes and nose was runny. He would sleep fitfully and yell and mutter and whine in his thin sleep. It was not awesome. S.O. , #6, and #7 camped out in the living room amid a growing pile of Kleenex, empty juice cups, and despair. By Friday, #6 was better as was #7 and #5. We were on the mend. We had made it.
Saturday, I woke up with a sore throat and a cough. I had no one to take care of me, make sure I had Kleenex, and juice. S.O. was still under the weather but had gamely decided to join his dad in Chicago for a car show. #3,#4,#5 were all better and running around. I was doomed. So, being a mom, I chugged juice from a mainly clean cup, I used toilet paper when the Kleenex ran out (and doesn’t my raw nose thank me) and I laid on the couch amid the mess and destruction of a house ran by a sick parent and children who recognized the weakness and took it as a sign that it was okay to destroy everything.
By the time S.O. returned home he was greeted by a wife napping with #7, #6 still wearing the same pajamas she had slept in the night before, a kitchen full of dishes, and cold pizza delivered hours before so the older children wouldn’t starve. And he still wasn’t feeling well. We looked at each, through bleary red eyes, and without saying a word (which I couldn’t do anyway without expelling mucus everywhere) acknowledged that this time, through sickness, not health, we had made it. Till we meet again next year, flu bug.