Vail Novice Father: A couch too small
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Here’s the image of a sick family: I lay on one end of the couch, the wife at the other. We share an overstuffed comforter that sprawls over us and onto the floor. We had just spent the past two days passing around a virus like a game of hot potato. My toddler daughter, as always, got it first. I caught it yesterday morning. The Wife picked it up last night. Today we lie on the couch, living the aftermath of total annihilation.
The Kid bounced back quickly. She threw up a couple of times two nights ago, but was no worse for the wear the next day. But when I caught the bug, I was sentenced to all of yesterday in bed. I would arrange my body in whatever way was least uncomfortable, miserable with aches in my joints and back, alternating between shivering cold to sweaty hot, jumping out of bed on short notice to throw up into the toilet, not quite wishing for death but not quite dismissing the notion entirely.
Then the Wife caught it. After taking care of me all day, the Wife spent all of last night doing what I had done one shift earlier.
So this morning we both lie on the couch, dehydrated, achy, feeling sorry for ourselves. The Kid, with the most energy of all of us, climbs onto the couch and happily crawls and leaps back and forth between her two listless parents. To her, playing in her snowman pajamas, there’s nothing better than the whole family piled on the couch.
This is the second time the whole family got knocked out by a mini-plague. Like the last time, my wife looks at me, and I look at her, and we make arguments with our eyes as to which one will win the pathetic contest and get to stay on the couch while the other prepares breakfast for the Kid, or stops her from pulling all the tissues out of the box, or washes the germ-covered sheets on our bed.
It’s a sick day. The Kid enjoys getting lost in the mess of comforter and limbs. When she finds a position she likes, she lies there and stares at the ceiling or studies her fingers.
Despite the aches and tiredness, I get to lie here and stroke the Kid’s head.
When I was a sick child, there was nothing better than having a mother to stroke my head and make me chicken noodle soup and put “Goonies” into the VCR. Now nobody’s stroking my head. I’m the one who has to get up to put “Happy Feet” into the DVD player.
But stroking my daughter’s head while I’m sick is a different kind of nice.
I rarely get a chance to spend a good amount of time doing not much. I always feel like something needs doing. But today the vacuum cleaner lies dead in the hallway. The dishes pile up in the sink. The bills form a quiet pile next to the computer. Deadlines tick closer, but remain untouched.
Today, I get to lie here with my family. And if I have to get sick in order to have a good excuse to do that, so be it. If only for one day, the family gets to relax together.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.