Monday morning I opened my eyes with an ache stretching around my forehead and dancing over my eyes. It felt like a pulse or a beat, something musical, that was only magnified when I pulled Bryce out of his crib and he went for that blasted guitar. It was the red one. He would wait until later to give me the yellow one. When he finished the first guitar solo, he grabbed those other noisemakers, the toddler rattlers with tiny beads inside them. Every shake was a reminder that I was in pain. Not sharp pain but dull, sinking, bulging pain.
I didn’t know my throat was sore until I swallowed my first drink of water and almost stopped drinking. I started my trusted tea pot, the helpful kettle that keeps water warm after boiling. I would drink the entire pot over those next two hours. My strategy when colds come is to drown them with my arsenal of teas, relieved only by water. I knew I needed to sleep but that was a dream I wouldn’t have. I looked at Bryce, explained that I wasn’t feeling well. I don’t think he responded. Maybe he said something. Maybe he turned his head the way he does when he has no clue what you’re saying. I told him my throat was sore, that my head was hurt. He wanted breakfast.
I fed him, moving so slow that he took my hand and pulled it to his mouth. He’s mastered feeding himself with spoons as long as your fingers are pulling the spoons. He can guide your hand to his lips but he can’t guide the food on the spoon to his lips as well. Who can understand it? I had no appetite. I ate anyway. I alternated his food with my food. As a said, I wasn’t hungry. When we finished feeding, I remember wishing that nap time, two and a half hours later, would magically appear. I remember feeling tired but not sleepy. I remember going to the cabinet and pulling out a few teas. I would drink Egyptian Licorice. Not sure why. I had a few Traditional Medicinals, which were the obvious choices, but who likes to do the obvious thing when you have a 17th-month old son singing songs so that the neighbors on the ground floor can hear him at 7:15AM?
I drank my tea. My boy watched me. He gave me some grace, but it was short-lived. He turned into a terror as the morning went on. He wouldn’t listen. He would stare at me. He was quite the independent child. He was sitting, standing, kneeling and leaping on my nerves. I told him to go away, to go to his room, to give me some space. He stood there. I reminded him that I was sick, that I needed him to do something other than bother me. He, you guessed, stood there. Nap time came. I couldn’t fall asleep until 20 minutes before he woke up. It was terrible because my head bounced all that day. It became the primary soundtrack of my time with the boy.
When his mother came home, he ran to her as he does when she returns home. I was stirring risotto. They gathered into their embrace, the boy yaying and mommying, his mother soaking it up like dry sponge. I shook my head, thankful that I could share the boy’s last hour or so with another adult. I was glad to see Dawn. She pitied me and asked if I was okay. I looked at Bryce. He wouldn’t tell his mom that I was sick. After all those explanations, he was silent. I told her of in a sentence of my headache, sore throat, and sourness. I looked at him—he was smiling and starting into some song about hunger—and wondered what the next week would bring.