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Sick kids

By Robin Dearing
The phone rang last night. I sat on the sofa eating the remainder of the Moose Tracks ice cream right out of the container. The phone continued to ring. I was perplexed. The teenager was in the house and yet he was not diving for the phone. Finally I hauled myself off the couch and answered the phone myself. It was for Sean. I plopped back down on the sofa and called out, "Sean, phone." Crickets. No Sean. I went to his room and found him asleep on his bed ... at 8:30 p.m. He woke long enough to have a 10-minute phone conversation and then his room fell quiet again. I asked Bill if Sean was OK. I mean what kind of 15-year-old would rather sleep then talk to his beloved girlfriend on the phone? A sick one. I've never seen him like that before. I began peppering him with questions: Do you have a cough? Fever? Are you congested? Sick to your stomach? Mostly he said he was tired. So we let him sleep and eventually Bill and I went to bed. Around 2, I woke up to find my 6-year-old coughing in my face. "This isn't going to be good," I said as I tucked her into my bed and I trudged off to sleep the rest of the night in her bed (through the process of trial and error, we've discovered that the three of us cannot share a bed. And I actually kind of like sleeping in her room; she's got a fan that keeps her room nicely chilled. The only problem is that I have to excavate a mound of stuffed animals from the bed before there's enough room for a full-grown adult.) This morning, Sean got up and prepared himself for school. Mar continued to sleep in our bed. While I was in the shower, Bill came in to tell me that Sean had decided he was too sick to go to school. He must be half dead, as that kid would go to school if he'd lost his nose to leprosy. So now we had a teenager that could stay home by himself, but what to do about the coughing first-grader. She's got no fever nor runny nose, just a cough. Do we keep her home? Would one day of rest cure the cough? I'm never really sure what to do in these situations. In cases like these, I wish we were more like the Japanese in that they are often seen wearing protective masks over their noses and mouths while sick. If I could just keep her from coughing all over the other kids, I would feel better about sending her to school. As the morning progressed, her cough abated and her mood seemed fine, so off to school she goes. Good, now I only have one sick kid to worry about.