We celebrated my Dad’s 77th birthday this weekend with a family dinner and talent show. The award for best one-liner of the evening goes to my 8 year-old niece Ada. She stood up to take her turn at the piano, sweetly announced “I picked this song because it reminded me of grandpa,” and then proceeded to play “This Old Man.”
The highlight of my weekend was getting to meet Lara, of The Lazy Organizer, in person. Yes, she was every bit as funny and darling as she seems on her blog and she even gave me some of her famous organizing bags. I think I’ll add talented, generous and incredibly thoughtful to her growing list of adjectives. Her husband, who according to my train-loving children has the coolest job on the planet, was also charming. I brought along my Guard Baby because you never can be too careful when meeting up with people from the internet, especially weird ones who homeschool, don’t eat sugar, don’t watch television, are obsessed with organizing things, and read unabridged copies of Les Miserables for fun.
I really like Lara and wanted to make a good first impression. So I arranged to meet her and her husband at the mall. Because nothing says “welcome to my hometown; I’m so happy you came” like a stroll past obscenely expensive clothing, rows of tacky neckties, and the window porn at Victoria Secret. Ever the gracious hostess, I pulled up a wooden bench where we could talk for a while and I showed off my fabulous parenting skills by allowing Nora to chew on a potted plant. After that I took them to a noisy spot in the food court to sample the local ice water. I’m sure they’ll look me up again the next time they’re in town.
Ever since then, I’ve been dealing with sick kids. Ethan has some kind of mystery ailment that causes a high fever, sore muscles and a strong aversion to chores. Oh wait, that last one’s normal. On Saturday night, his fever was so high he became positively delirious and started wailing because he believed he had morphed into an atomic bomb and was about to be dropped onto the unsuspecting inhabitants of earth. He also insisted that Gabie had devised an evil plan for world domination and was using him as a weapon of mass destruction. Hmmm. We’ve got no sibling rivalry around here, nope.
Nora is the other sickie in our house. I’m beginning to doubt the whole “nursing boosts their immune system” propaganda because it seems like she’s had a cold most of her short little life (and I’m sure this has nothing to do with her belief that everything within a 5 mile radius needs to go into her mouth). This week she has another ear infection (or is it the same one, just lingering?) and her face is a snot-o-rama. Poor Nora. Poor me who has to get up with her several times a night. Have I written yet about how I feel when I’m utterly sleep-deprived? Oh yeah. Been there, posted that.
Considering the percentage of our lives we spend either suffering through our own illnesses or dealing with those of our children, there’s a shocking lack of art out there on the subject. For art to be an accurate reflection of the human condition, I figure at least 50% of the paintings in museums should include a figure with a red bulbous nose and puffy eyes. Seriously, I’d like to know: why do we see no mucus in art? No piles of used tissues? No barf bowls?
Oh sure, there’s the occasional sentimental scene like this one by Gabriel Metsu that claims to depict a sick child. But let me be the cynic who says “This child does not look that sick to me. She could TOTALLY still go to school.” Where is the layer of dried snot across her face? Why isn’t she crying and tugging at her ears? And most suspiciously, if she’s so sick, how is it that her mother looks all rested and put together? The woman is fully dressed – with jewelry – for heaven’s sake.
It’s clear that most artists tend to portray things as they should be, not as they are. Bloggers, on the other hand, tell a whole different story. We love to write about the less-than-ideal aspects of our lives. The real stuff. The vomit. Since I started blogging, I’ve read a fair share of posts about sick kids and written a few of my own. I can’t help it. Turns out mucus is a big part of parenting. If nothing else, by writing about it we’re able to commiserate with each other. We can all sympathize with watching our children feel miserable and trying to make them feel better. In the process, I've discovered that nobody has healthy children all the time.
Oh, and one other thing I’m sure of: I'm getting really good at spelling "phlegm."