So my son’s been sick for a week. Not in that “this cold just won’t go away” way we all know and hate. No, he’s had a creepy week-long fever. You know how you’re not supposed to be able to run a fever early in the morning? He was starting out every day at over 100 degrees. And he’s one of those people who tends toward cool — his normal temp is in the low 97s. And he’s 14 years old, as opposed to, say, 14 months. So this was bad.
Plus he’s one of those people who never get sick. Frankly, I was kind of relieved when he finally got the flu at the age of four. I was starting to wonder if we were going to have to get him Damien-tested or something.
Not only is he making up for lost time now — he’s making up for it during a whole week where he was supposed to be acting as junior counselor at a Lego day camp. (Of course there are Lego camps.)
The first week of this job, which sonny was in perfect health for, was from eight in the morning until one in the afternoon, and it’s about an hour’s drive away. So not a huge break for me.
But this week? He was going to be there all day. Like, from eight until five.
And he loves it. So I wouldn’t have to feel guilty at having some huge unprecedented time to myself.
I’m a homeschooler, and we don’t run around talking about how much we hate being anywhere near our kids. I’ve never understood that attitude — “Oh, no! My kids are home from school today! DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, SAVE ME FROM THIS MISERY!” I mean, I understand not wanting to spend every minute with your children. But when that turns into not wanting to spend any minute with them? That’s when I have to wonder who you were expecting to marry and what went wrong. Because clearly you think of children as something you produce in order to provide an heir to the throne or an extra target for those pesky paparazzi.
But, homeschooler or not, I am a loner. And a big old introvert. I crave time to myself — not for the sake of being away from my child, but for the sake of being away from everyone.
And even if I hated the idea of my son being gone for so long every day — and part of me does, it’s weird, we’ve never been apart so long for so many days in a row — I’d have to feel sad for his sake that he was missing out on something he really enjoys. Not to mention his first job. And missing out because he’s sick and feverish every day and just not getting any better.
So it’s been a shite week.
Several days into it, I realized that I hadn’t been outside at all except to go downstairs to our apartment complex’s laundry room. Which so does not count.
I do love being at home. But there’s a difference between deciding not to go out and not being allowed to go out.
So this morning, my husband took sonny to the doctor. My husband has an outside job, so having him take time off work to run this errand may sound weird. It sounds less weird when I explain that my husband insisted I needed some sanity time, and this was the only way I could get it. And it sounds way less weird when I explain that one of us hates our insurance plan with the dark fury of a thousand burnt-out stars (oh, just go with it) and tends to glare at representatives of that HMO. So in the interest of peace, he took our son in to get an X-ray and what turned out to be a diagnosis of pneumonia.
I went for a guilt-ridden run while they were gone. I jogged all the way down to the ocean and added a few pieces to my drift-glass collection. One of them was orange and had interesting marks on it, and I realized that it must have come from one of those reflective triangles they put on bicycles to lull their riders into a fatally false sense of security at night. I was waiting for somebody to yell, “YOU SHOULDN’T TAKE SHELLS! THEY’RE PART OF THE ECOSYSTEM!” And then I could wave my pieces of sea-smoothed glass and yell back, “GOSH, I WONDER WHAT LIVED IN THIS SHELL!” and then maybe add something clever about not throwing stones around all this glass, except I couldn’t think of how to phrase it. But nobody said anything. So I brought my glass home and watched about four minutes of “True Blood” — something else I’ve been deprived of now that my son’s in full-time residence — until the guys got home and told me all the gory details of the doctor visit.
By now it was so late that my husband decided not to bother even trying to go to work. So he ran a bunch of errands, because we were out of pretty much everything, because did I mention I’ve been trapped inside?
Here’s what I did while he was gone.
I took the lizards — Mr. Big and Miss Elizardbeth Bennett — for walkies eight million times, because it was super-humid out and that makes them go crazy if they have to stay in their tanks. These lizards are not large enough to roam around our apartment all by themselves. They’re like toddlers: you have to watch them every second or they’ll eat something totally inappropriate, or hurt themselves, or relieve themselves under the CD rack. (Okay, they’re not exactly like toddlers.)
I called my son’s music school and left a message canceling his violin lesson. Which I may as well not have even bothered doing, because they called the very next morning at lesson time demanding to know where he was.
I wrote up a master list of dinner ideas that won’t kill anybody or make anybody cry, which is harder than it sounds considering my husbands many food allergies and my son’s vegetarianism (which I will most definitely kvetch about here at some point).
I had the following conversation with my bed-ridden son:
“Mommy, could you please make me some lunch?”
“Sure. What do you want?”
“Do we have any leftover soup?”
“Soup and bread would be great.”
I had a huge argument with my son about how I’d pronounced the word “no.” I insisted that I’d been straightforwardly sincere, while he held the position that I’d obviously been using an “I’m saying no when I really mean yes” tone of voice.
I considered the feasibility of nannycamming our entire apartment, so that instead of having this kind of argument six thousand times a week, I could just post the tape on YouTube and ask unbiased viewers to submit opinions as to who was right.
I took a shower several hours after that long smelly morning run.
I reminded myself not to shave my pits until I buy new razor blades.
I gave the tub a quick scrub and tried not to think about how long it had been since the bathroom had been given an honest-and-for-true deep-down cleaning.
I pondered what, if anything, was the difference between wanting the bathroom clean and wanting to clean the bathroom. A feminist philosopher I used to read at the feminist bookstore I used to work at insisted that women should never, ever clean anything unless they genuinely felt like cleaning. So now instead of just feeling guilty when our place falls to rack and ruin, I also feel guilty when I try to clear away the worst of the damage.
I played several billion games of Uno with my son. This was his idea and was supposed to distract him from how lousy he felt. Instead, he still felt lousy, plus he was furious because I relentlessly won hand after hand of what is essentially a game of chance.
Here’s what I didn’t do while my husband was running errands:
Anything particularly productive.
Anything just for the heck of it.
Anything at all professional.
Eventually, my husband came home, looking quite cheerful.
We live in Santa Monica. We moved here waaay back when you came to Santa Monica because you were broke, not in order to become so.
My husband had gone to the great big Whole Foods on Wilshire Boulevard, and while he was there…
“I saw Thor!”
Or at least Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Thor.
Also, my husband saw Chris Hemsworth’s new baby.
Now, here’s the thing.
I like the movie Thor, and I worship at the altar of The Avengers, but I find Chris Hemsworth disturbingly muscular. Well, he’s supposed to be, right? He’s a freakin’ god.
When my female friends are drooling over pictures of guys from movies or the “Game of Thrones” series, I have often said, “You know, there’s such a thing as too many abs.”
If I absolutely had to pick a guy from Thor on whom to have a crush, I would go with the guy who played Loki. Or — more realistically at my age and level of babeitude — Anthony Hopkins.
I’m weird, is what I’m saying.
So this Thor-related incident didn’t hit me quite the same way it would another red-blooded straight woman.
But there was something fundamentally wrong with my husband running into a big, huge movie star while I was stuck at home shuffling the Uno deck.
Because — well, let’s review.
High point of my husband’s day: “Look! The star of several recent movies! And his adorable offspring!”
High point of my day: “Look! Something shiny!”
Plus, my husband is embarrassingly heterosexual. This was totally wasted on him. He was more excited about seeing Thor’s baby. “It was so cute!” Oh, please. Like there are any non-cute babies out there. Babies are cute by definition.
And he talked to him. My husband talked to Thor, I mean. He complimented his baby. And Hemsworth graciously accepted said compliment. With his own actual voice. And even if you’re me, you have to admit that Chris Hemsworth’s voice is top-ten material.
Of course, for me to know that, I’d have to haul out a DVD or schlep my sorry self down to a movie theater. My husband can rely on his in-person MEMORIES.
So, yeah — I get to be bitter.
And the next time my sweet sonny gets sick, I’M running all the errands, and Daddy can take over the creaming-our-child-at-Uno duties. Because that’s equality. Or something.