Anyway, I was in the grocery store when he texted me to tell me he had fever and was achy, so I started throwing some of his favorite things into my shopping cart. Isn't that what mothers are supposed to do? Juice, coke, popsicles, ice cream, chips and salsa.
I remember when I was young and would get sick. In a strange and twisted way, it was something that I didn't mind all that much. The obvious reason.....no school. But, mostly because of all the attention my mother would lavish on me. It was the only time you were served meals in bed around our house. She'd come in and check every few minutes to see if your glass needed a refill. It was also one of the few occasions when we had soft drinks around. My mother was obviously under the impression that a little Coke or Sprite had medicinal value and should only be administered when ill and at the holidays. When we were sick, it seemed like she was more concerned than usual with what sounded good to us and would fix whatever we thought we could eat. There was more doting and patting and fetching than usual. Basically, if you could deal with the discomfort of your symptoms, being sick around my house was a lot like being at the spa or something pretty special like that.
I guess we mother the same way we were mothered. Tonight, I took Carson's supper to his bed and propped up his pillows. I've asked him if he wanted more Coke or a popsicle. I made him a snack and took him the lotion infused Kleenex. Took his temperature with the thermometer and then with the Mom method. You know the drill.......a lingering kiss to the forehead which is followed by a cheek to the temple and then the other cheek to the other temple all while feeling both sides of the neck simultaneously. With this four checkpoint system, a mother can estimate her child's fever within a tenth of a degree. True.
I remember there was the downside of being sick, though. When I was little, if you were sick enough to stay home from school, you were going to the doctor. Simple as that. And, back in the day, they doled out shots for everything. Everything!
I remember sitting out in that waiting room. In my mind, I can still imagine the way that building smelled. It was an odd mixture of rubbing alcohol, floor wax, manila file folders, and wooden tongue depressors. My mother, being a germaphobe, always sat us next to the door so that, at least, we would get a burst of fresh air when someone would come in. Looking back, I'm wondering if that didn't just expose us to every disease that walked by but, still, she preferred that spot to the inner bowels of the waiting area. And the playroom? Forget about it. That's where the kids played whose mothers didn't love them or care if they touched snotty trucks or the telephone that had boogers all over the numbers. The books had all been touched and read by sick people, too, so she would just read it to us....usually from the Children's Storybook Bible. It was hard to concentrate on the Word of the Lord when I was busy weighing my odds of getting a shot in my little mind. "Ok, I've got high fever and a bad sore throat......so there's little chance of getting out of here without being harpooned unless there's a fire or something awesome like that."
Finally, after what seemed like hours of torture watching the seemingly happy, infectious children in the playroom, they'd call my name over the garbled speaker. Oh, nothing made my heart pound like that. Would they send me down the long, winding hall to have my finger pricked? Would they stab me with one of those dreadful penicillin shots? So many "what ifs" hanging over my head as I followed the nurse to the back. This was when nurses had the hats, skirts, white panty hose, and white leather shoes.....and they were all business and no play.
The nurse would point us into a room and follow us in and then ask my mother what was wrong with me. She'd start to rattle off my symptoms and I remember I always wanted her to tone it down a bit. You know.....not make me sound so sick that I'd end up limping out of there. The nurse took her notes and would get a gown out of the drawer and leave the room with instructions for us. I'd put the gown on and jump up on that crinkly paper. It was cold. I felt lousy. My nerves all aflutter. We'd wait and wait and wait and wait. I'd hear the doctor's voice several doors down and then I'd hear it get closer......one door at a time. Seemed like a lot of screaming and crying got closer as he did. Didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
Finally, he'd come in and his deep voice would seem to vibrate the whole room. He'd look in all the openings of my head. My mother would, again, pipe up with her insistent description of how bad I'd felt and I'd furrow my brow over in her direction. He'd send me down to the finger pricking department and then back to wait in the exam room. This was the crucial moment, right here. The moment when the numbers would tell the story. When they would come back and indicate if it was either viral or bacterial. Oh, please, Lord, let it be a virus. But, nine times out of ten......no such luck. He'd come in with the lab numbers and speak to my mother in this language that I didn't understand but what I did understand was when he rolled his little stool over to the door, opened it, and yelled out to the nurse, "We need so and so CCs of penicillin in here." Well, that, I understood.
He'd leave the room and that's when I'd start crying. "I don't want a shot, Mama." She'd assure me that it would be over quickly and how much better I'd feel. Oh, yeah. A nail gun to the rear always makes you feel so good. Then, she'd start to ask me what I'd like her to fix me for dinner and remind me of my favorite shows that would be on when we got home. You know.....the motherly distractions that we use in times of distress. I mean, she had to talk about something because it took the nurse forever to get her dart gun loaded. This was well before the those new little needles came on the scene that they use today. No, these were more like 8 penny nails. You could roof a house with those things. I could hear her rubber soled shoes coming closer to the door. Squeak, squeak, squeak. She couldn't sneak up on you with those on. My heart was beating up into my sore throat at this point. She'd swing the door open, armed with the alcohol, a Band-Aid, and a shot that looked like a turkey baster and instruct me to roll over on that crinkly paper. She reared back and would stab me in the hip with, what felt like, all her might. "AAaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! And as a peace offering, she'd hand me a red sucker that seemed to taste oddly similar to Robitussin and, with tears rolling down my face, I'd limp out of there like I'd just had a hip replacement.
That pediatric office was landscaped with the old school holly bushes. Not these new, soft holly varieties but the ones that would draw blood with their Satanic tips. I thought that was such an unwelcoming shrubbery with which to line the sidewalk of a pediatrician's office but, looking back, I recognize their foreshadowing and symbolism qualities.
Tomorrow morning, I'm taking Carson to the doctor. They don't seem to do shots as often as they did in my day. If he does get one, it will be with one of those tiny needles they use where the nurse has to tell you when she's done. Back then, there was no question about when she was done. Either way, I will take care of him the way my Mama took care of me. I will fix his Coke and feel his head and ask him what he feels like eating. I will do all those things that were done for me. And I will enjoy it as much as my Mama did. And in some strange way, he will, too.
Y'all have a great day, friends.