816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider - Some horror created a gift of a sick day

“Got any five stars?” I asked from the kitchen while I poured popcorn kernels onto the layer of oil in a heavy pan on the stove. “Maybe a four and half.’ ”

“I’m looking, Mom,” Luke called from the living room. He started to read movie descriptions out loud — we yay’d or nay’d each. By the time that the TING storm of popcorn ended, we had made a choice.

“Are you ready?” he asked as I brought our snack into the living room.


And so it went onSick Day No. 2.

Crud 2013 hit our house when I was out of town. Brian had picked up a feverish Noah from school, and by the time I got back to Kansas City, Luke had also fallen. As cruds go, it wasn’t too bad — fluids, rest, wait it out for three days.

“It’s not fair!” Noah said as he got ready to go back to school while Luke stayed in bed. “I had to be sick with Dad, and he gets you.”

A good wife would have defended her husband, but I’m not that good of a wife. I passed Noah a small bowl of ice cream with his breakfast. “Here, that’s all that’s different.”

But it’s not, Noah knew it, and I knew it.

I’m not sure if this is a universal parental sick day feeling — but I sort of like them. Not the “my kid doesn’t feel well” part, but a day or two of overindulging, schlepping drinks and cuddling a child back to health is a gift I am experienced in giving.

But the kid who was sick stopped cuddling me years ago.

Actually, Luke and I don’t do too much together anymore. He’s 15 — it’s all Dad and friend activities these days. I’m left with the memories of a tiny Luke laying his feverish head on my lap, me smoothing his hair while we watched Disney movies. Now he’s taller than me and getting skilled at independent man things, I’m second-tier support staff.

The only indulging I did the first sick day was to bring him lunch and make him a chai latte. He got his own water, took his own temperature. … He must have been really sick, because he also emailed his teachers for homework.

A fever at the end of Sick Day One earned him Sick Day Two.

“Want to watch ‘Elf?’ ” I asked trying to come up with something I could do for him ... and do with him.

“No, thanks, Mom.” He turned back to his homework. (Yes, really.)

“Want me to cuddle you on the couch?” I tried to play it straight.

He humored me, “No, thank you.”

At least he was polite.

Then I had a moment — an epiphany born from years of Momming.

“Since you and I are the only ones in this family who watch horror movies, and no one else is here … want to watch one?”

He didn’t even pause, “Sure, let me finish this homework.”

Everything that I had on my to-do list got put aside. Job one: sit on the couch with my teenage son and scream.

Well, more like make fun of the movies. Honestly, the first one had so many similarities to a Scooby Doo episode we were calling the characters, Shaggy and Velma. And the second one? It wasn’t too bad, but we agreed that they both had horrible endings.

But our day? Not so horrible at all.

There was no Sick Day Three. The crud left our house, and he went back to school.

I was left with a memory of a day that was a gift to us both.