The earliest role I remember seeing Michael Keaton in was Mr. Mom. I really enjoyed that movie – found it very funny as a kid. I haven’t seen it in over twenty-five years, but now that I have kids of my own I’d like to revisit it some day. But, I think for the last 96 hours I have his character beat.
Introducing Mister-Doctor-Mom-Dad! Yeah, my solitary childcare/home adventures didn’t involve my losing my job (yet) and my wife going back to work. My wife had the flu and was bed-ridden for about three days. Other than trips to the bathroom and a shower her last time out of the bedroom until this morning was a Sunday morning visit to the doctor to confirm the presence of the flu. And she spent a fair part of Saturday holed up in the room, as well.
It all started with our 5-year-old getting sick Thursday. Even when Mom-mom and Pop-pop stopped in for a surprise visit she stayed on the couch with much dramatic moaning. She had what we presumed was a low-grade fever (no working thermometer in the house at the time – that has since been remedied) and said she felt sick. She did cough up some goop a few times, but that was probably more a result of her not eating and drinking. (Remember that old saying, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”? Same can be said for kids.)
Saturday morning came and the wife was sick, too. At day three we decided to take the little one to the doctor – we’ve already been through appendicitis with one kid so we take the complaint of belly pain seriously around here. With Mommy out of commission it was up to Daddy to take the wee sprout to the pediatrician on his own; no assist from the two eldest as they had to watch the toddler and we didn’t want to risk them getting sick at the doctor’s office. I took two sets of double grocery bags in case she got sick in the car. Sure enough, it was good to have them. Unfortunately her aim wasn’t true. After confirming no appendicitis, just a suspected stomach bug, I plugged the little girl back in her hastily cleansed booster seat, drove home and set her on the couch with the express purpose of getting her better.
Upon my arrival home the wife was already getting worse than she’d started the day. So, the next day I was on duty to keep her quarantined from the rest of the family and also keeping the three healthy children from the sick 5-year-old. By the end of the day the younger of my patients was able to get up and play a very little bit, but was still nowhere near 100-percent. We also took this time to move the crib mattress to the toddler bed in another room and I took a spare mattress and laid it on the floor next to the toddler bed. The toddler wasn’t getting into any mischief without daddy knowing. Knowing that we had Mommy under full quarantine, I called work to tell them I may not be in the next day.
Upon waking up Monday morning I had learned two things. First, that spare mattress on the floor is not the most comfortable sleeping surface. Second, the 11-year-old was now sick, too. So much for separating the flock into healthy and sick halves. So, my regular deliveries of food, water and medicine to Mommy became regular deliveries of food, water and medicine to Mommy and kid number two! All the while keeping kids numbers one and four away from kid number three who continued to moan and perform high-maintenance whining from the couch. Slowly but surely I was able to ween the 5-year-old off of her ever-present need for Daddy, and I was falling into a rhythm for the two patients. Then, well before her usual bedtime, the teenager said she wasn’t feeling well. WHY THE HECK WASN’T MY QUARANTINE WORKING?
Another night of rough sleep followed. This after staying up late with my night-owl toddler. Whether she takes a longer-than-one-hour nap, a short twenty-minute snooze, or no nap at all, this little firecracker LOVES to stay up late. Much like her Daddy. When he was young and spry. Those days have long passed – I want to go to sleep, kiddo! Waking up feeling unrested…oh, well, just par for the course.
Another day off of work. Um, yay!
Even though I was playing Mister Mom, and Doctor Mom as well, I still lack a mother’s instinct. (Lack of boobs means I am a boob when it comes to a mother’s intuition.) The teenager said she was fine all day Tuesday. Mommy was highly suspicious. But the teenager was already upset about missing basketball on Saturday and was hoping we’d go to our Tuesday evening game. Mommy was starting to improve, the 11-year-old was able to take care of herself in her bedroom and the 5-year-old just needed to have a movie to watch while we went. So, I loaded up the oldest and youngest to help coach our team in our final regular-season game. The teenager really wanted to watch the kids play. Or so she said. It’s abundantly clear to me that all she really wanted to watch was her crush on the opposing team’s 13 & over club. I’m glad she had that chance. And the little one took a nap during the second half. About a 15-minute nap during all the raucous fanfare. This means she stayed up until almost midnight once again.
Waking up this morning (the third in a row on the floor) confirmed my need to get back to a real bed. Or a nice couch. Or a recliner. But, at least the wife and 11-year-old are on the mend. The 5-year-old is bouncing around and talkative again. And even the teenager seems to have escaped the flu for just a bad cold. Things are looking up, and I went back to work. I can’t believe I was looking forward to going back there, but it was nice to know that the family is well enough even if not 100-percent. Although my quarantine didn’t work nearly as well as I had hoped, the toddler has thus far made it through unscathed – and that was the overall goal.
Now, as she continues to play and show no signs of fatigue, I look forward to another night sleeping on the floor. Oh yeah, living the dream.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world.