It’s Not All Mary Poppins

We have the plague

“Emily won’t be in again today. She just can’t shake this th–” A cough rattles down the phone line.

“And you have it, too!”

“Oh, I do, and I’m so afraid the baby’s going to get it, next.”

Nigel arrives. I kneel in front of him to unzip the suit, noting the liberally-lubricated upper lip. We’ll just get this suit off him, and — he opens his mouth and coughs. I grab his arm and whip it across his face.

“Nigel, COVER!”

With my other hand, I wipe at the saliva, snot and sputum speckled across my face. Nigel pouts. I suppose I was a little abrupt, but he’s not the one with someone else’s snot all over his face. If anyone has a right to pout, it’s me. I wash my face and hands.

The phone rings again. It’s Timmy’s mother. He had a terrible night and won’t be in. Her voice is thick. She thinks she’s coming down with it, too.

Malli, the only child who had not succumbed, arrives with her face spackled and sparkly with dried snot. “Her face is a mess,” her mother notes, “but she won’t let anyone wipe her nose.”

Mom leaves. I wipe Malli’s nose. Wash her face for good measure. Then wash my hands.

Anna and Nigel sit beside each other on the couch, each with a Franklin book. Nigel opens his mouth — why will that boy not COVER, dammit? — and sneezes into the pages.

Anna glances over. “Eeew.”

You know it’s bad when a two-year-old is grossed out. I take the book off for decontamination or, if that proves impossible, cremation. And wash my hands.

Anna’s normally husky voice is even huskier. She was home the last two days last week, and is still pretty snuffly. This is the most contagious bug I’ve seen in years.

My day is peppered with coughs, sneezes, sniffles and hacks. The tissue boxes litter the house. I carry several in my pocket at all times. Each child has a spare tucked into their sleeve or, if one’s available, their hood. And yet still the sputum sprays. Delicate mists ejected into the air at regular intervals.

Nigel kneels on the bench, leaning onto the table — and sneezes directly into the box of tissue on the table. Huh. Guess that’s Nigel’s personal, private tissue box now. His snot, his kleenex. Simple.

My hands are dry from multiple washings, despite copious latherings with lotion. And yet, so far, touch wood, I have not contracted this thing. Unless, thanks to Nigel, it’s already percolating within.

Tick … tick … tick … tick…

Adam staggers into the kitchen in jeans and housecoat. “Mom? Mom, I feel kinda weird, and I’m not sure what’s wrong, I jus–” His eyes widen, he lunges across the room,

and pukes into the garbage can.

The Plague, v.2 has begun.

God help us all.

January 16, 2008 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety | 13 Comments