“i want to become big and healthy like you, mom. where i don’t ever have to brush my teeth.”*

Very Ill

Phee falls very ill, and quite suddenly. I notice she isn’t dropping off to sleep at her normal hour. At two AM she becomes quite distressed and begins to quietly but sharply sob. Within fifteen minutes, she is vomitting violently and doesn’t stop for a while. She staggers from the toilet to resting on the floor. Then: bouts of explosive diarrhea (her words). Her body becomes limp as she travels from bath to toilet and back.

Quite shocking, really. An hour into it, I’m thinking I might take her to the hospital. I clean up and help her at each stage of the fugue. She falls asleep in the bath and I prepare clean clothes and lay soft warm towels in her bed. I gently get her up and rinse her off, then dry her; she is incoherent, and her very measured manners (“I’m sorry for the mess, mama”) turn into a helpless peevishness. She collapses across the bed. Even in the low light I can see her skin take on a greenish-white translucence I am familiar with; though rarely ill, it is an unmistakable pallor.

I take her temperature and through the night while I sleep beside her I put my hand on her. Her breathing is regular and she is cool to the touch. In the morning she tells me she is “feeling much better” and that she “needs to replenish fluids”.

Feeling Better

The rest of today she was much herself, if only a tiny bit more physically demonstrative, moving a little slower.

Nels is back on a fitness kick. Just now he announces: “After drinking all that milk, and getting all that bone energy from eight** glasses I drank fifteen minutes ago, look at how fast I can run!” He races across the living room. A little more of this kind of thing and then he fatigues, probably because there are many ounces of milk sloshing in his little puppy-belly. He prostrates himself on the couch and tangles his legs around mine. After a bit he runs upstairs to play with his Legos or his little handheld video game machine.

Earlier today: we borrow my mother’s truck to take our Christmas tree for disposal. We run across a rainy parking lot to the grocery store; we buy supplies for the next few days, funded by a side client of Ralph’s, pile the bags of food across our laps. Home, I ask my son to run upstairs and bring me down his new pants so I can have them cleaned. “You mean the new wool ones you made me?” he asks. He pronounces it, woooool. I tell him yes and he says, “When I’m stressed out I go upstairs and put them on to relax.”

My kids are perfect.

Up Late Playing Mad Libs

* I brush my teeth every morning and evening.

** three

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