Opening Day of Snotball Season

The morning was cloudy and a dozen raindrops fell in mocking fashion before the lingering sponge of summer erased everything but our memories. The coffee was where it always is.

For the second time this week there were little boys in their respective beds sleeping through the distant sound of school bells, and I stepped lightly between shadows and discarded LEGO bricks in an effort not to wake them.

Monday had been a holiday, the first of a school year not even two weeks old, and we were already ready for it. Wednesday was the follow-through of Tuesday night, when a nose full of snot and a head hot with fever led to tears, two spoonfuls of something lacking sugar, and an early bedtime. Wednesday morning doubled down and found both boys complaining about ailments that at least one of them was feeling.

It was the first sick day of the school year, and it was earlier than we had anticipated. The soundtrack of Disney Junior spread upward and danced in the stairwell with the echoes of jazz that slowly settled. Calls of “Daddy” competed with those on the phone, the dogs had warm bodies to snuggle, and an afternoon long in the planning was canceled on short notice.

Side effects of sick days tend to included stress and perspective, often at the same time. Parents have to drop everything in order to take care of their kid(s), and for reasons too many to mention this can lead to a lot of work-related stress. The flip side, of course, is that we are reminded that those things which often drive us, the deadlines, bottom lines, and other sorts of linear, should only matter when we let them. Some side effects are long overdue.

Sick days are bittersweet. There is the obvious, my children do not feel well and I want that to stop, but, and perhaps this pertains more to school-aged children, there is also a sense of nostalgia for the days when cute shows were requested and my constant attention required. It is tangible, and it covers the morning with a warm blanket, soft and tender, reminding me of mornings that I lay upon my grandmother’s sofa feeling sick days from the other side. It turns out that they feel very much the same.

They feel like morning, and all things need and needed.

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