My sweet little baby boy is sick. He went to school on Tuesday, and almost immediately called to come home from the nurse’s office. He had a fever of 100.7, which is a number better seen on a radio dial than a thermometer. Four days later his fever is still there, persistent and visible. We took him to the doctor. He has both the flu and an ear infection.
When he was a baby boy, he had a similar illness and called it an “ear confection,” which made me think of his ear filled with some kind of waxy nougat.
I call him my baby boy still, but he isn’t really. He’s smack in the center of his teenage years, and he’s tall enough to put his chin on the top of my head when we’re standing next to each other.
He’s pitiful this week. His eyes are glassy and his cheeks are flushed and he has no appetite, which is frightening for a boy who regularly eats a dozen eggs at one sitting. I want to pull him up on my lap and stroke his hair and rock him. He didn’t even want me to stay home with him. “Mom,” he said. “I’m just going to sleep all day. I’m 15. I can make myself tea if I really want it.”
Well, yes, he can. He can administer his own Motrin every few hours. He can take his own temperature, and he can heat up frozen chicken soup just as easily as I can. My baby boy is sick, and I just don’t know what to do about it.
But I’m still his Mommy, and I want to Mommy him.
My Mommymometer still works. I can kiss his forehead and know within a tenth of a degree what his fever is. My husband, who was a paramedic back when the recommended treatment was a good bleeding to get rid of ill-humours, thinks he’s the medical expert in the family, but he is horrible at knowing what a sick person needs. And whether that sick person still has a fever.
I do truly get tired of being right all the time.
I go in my son’s room from time to time. If he’s awake he’ll lean his head against my shoulder, or maybe I’ll rub his back. I can’t wrap his whole fever-warm body up in my arms any more, but I can still love him just as much and push the sweaty bangs away from his face. I can listen to him moan in his newly minted baritone voice about being tired of feeling cruddy. I can stroke the patches of real and for true stubble on his cheek when he tries to sleep it off.
I love him. It breaks my heart that loving him this much isn’t enough to cure what ails him.
I’ll tell you this much, though. If he gets me sick, he’ll be in big trouble. I do love the boy, but even I have my limits. I want to love him, but I do NOT want his germs.
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