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


  1. Oh my…happy mid-week eh?

    I blame the recent rise and drop in the temperature…always seems to mess with people’s immune systems.

    Poor tykes…poor Mary.

    Comment by Sheri | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. Oh how awful!
    We’ve (knock on wood) managed to survive the walking pneumonia without infecting the rest of the world.
    I agree with Sheri though, when the temperature gets all flippy, all the bugs seem to start going around.
    Good luck on making it through unscathed.

    Comment by Dani | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. What is it that keeps the kids from learning to cover their mouths? I swear I tell Ally 20 timesa day when she’s sick, and it! It drives me nuts

    Comment by ktjrdn | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. yyeeeuuucckk!

    I have the sorest throat ever today, even with my strong back painkillers, it still feels like someone burnt a hole in it, we need summer! x

    Comment by jenny uk | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  5. The stomach bug is going around here – daycare was hit hard. We went to a birthday party that we were very late in RSVPing to because P. was so icky feeling all week and when we apologized the mom said it had nearly been canceled because the birthday boy had been so sick. Hopefully the plague in all of its forms clears up soon and you don’t get it!

    Comment by Alison | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. Something is going around here as well. I made sure we all got flu shots before I had the baby but that hasn’t prevented the crud from arriving! N was home two days with fever and sore throat last week. Of course, the thing that was just killing her was that I would not let her hold the baby.
    She says she’s cured now. BEGGED to hold the baby this morning. SEE, Mom? I’m fine! I’m ALL better!
    Holds the baby. Coos over the baby. Lays the baby down.
    And coughs.

    Comment by LoryKC | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. I decided to make Jell-O with my 3yo yesterday and just after we poured the dry powder in the bowl… a-choo! Specks of wet Jell-O powder all over the pile. Ok, so I spooned out the worst of the wetness and tried to not think about it.

    Comment by Jill | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. We had the Christmas flu around here (Maryland). My 2-year-old had it, gave it to me. I promptly (despite washing my hands a bazillion times a day and staying away from everyone) gave it to my husband, my brother-in-law, and my niece. This bug is BADASS.

    Comment by PrehistoricMama | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  9. Ugh. I saw a man sneeze a great glob of stuff and let it drop onto the floor with an audible smack the other day at the library, then sneeze into his hands, and put them right back on the computer. and stand there for another hour, sneezing and hacking away. Blech! When I looked over and saw someone else there at last, I hustled over with Purell and kleenex and told her, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but trust me, you WANT me to wipe this down!” I lit the place up with the alcohol gel, and she took a squirt for her hands. Too gross.

    Comment by kittenpie | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  10. yeah, i got puked on today by my two-year-old charge. and what had he had for lunch? lots and lots of carrot juice. i was covered in a nice, rich, ORANGE vomit. yay. 😛

    Comment by Lara | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  11. It does seem to be going around.

    Good for the child who made it to the garbage can.

    Comment by Granny | January 17, 2008 | Reply

  12. It’s all Norovirus (winter vomiting bug) in this country. Fortunately, none of us has succumbed yet, and I hope we don’t. Sort of projectile at both ends, apparently…

    Comment by Z | January 18, 2008 | Reply

  13. […] chortle at that. Yes, indeed. Chalk dust is the least of it, really. Really. […]

    Pingback by Everyone can use some sometimes « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | March 31, 2011 | Reply

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