Strep, with camels and steam

My trip to the clinic was informative, beyond my diagnosis of strep. The clinic nurse, named Nancy, so obviously of a certain age and wisdom, said several times that kids "don't know how to be sick any more". She said most of the stuff going around right now should have kids recuperating at home three to five days. Kids don't know how to lounge around in bed, sip ginger ale, look at picture books, and take lots of naps to get their strength back. They only know a high level of activity and stimulation. Because the child is bopping around demanding entertainment, parents think the child is ready to be back at school before he's really well. And, of course, it's more convenient for the parents to believe this.

Being sick was memorable in its length and dullness in the Sixties. No entertainment was provided. We stayed in our pajamas for the trip to the pediatrician and back home again. If we were well enough to sit up, we wore a bathrobe over our PJs. We stayed in our bed, breathing the warm steam from the humidifier all day and all night. We traced the embroidery on the pillowcase with our fingers and created stories about the flowers. We were happy to drink lots of liquids because a walk down the hall to the bathroom was a major change of scene.

The fourth day home from school Mom might make a blanket roll for us on the sofa so we could look out the window while she Mop & Glowed the kitchen floor. She might even let us watch an episode of "I Love Lucy" or a Bing Crosby movie on the tiny black and white tv. By then we might be well enough to eat a perfectly baked potato with salt and butter to go with the poached egg.

There were places where the bedroom's blue wall paint met the white ceiling paint in less than a straight line. I used to pretend those tiny, lumpy overlaps of blue were actually distant camels walking along a very flat desert in a spread-out caravan. They moved ever so slowly.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder

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