So the next day, Saturday, we woke up bright and early and sick.
I got up, on the first full day of my vacation, with a sore throat and a bad cough and a complete lack of surprise that those things were happening, as I'd seen them coming all week. More than all week, in fact -- for about two weeks, since Mr Bunches got sick after Sweetie got sick.
Here's the thing about living with little kids, especially our little kids: your entire body essentially becomes one giant test lab for viruses. Although there are only four people in our immediate household (the three older kids pop by mainly to either borrow money, eat my leftover pizza, or recommend that we watch 21 Jump Street, the movie, calling it "the funniest movie ever" so that we will watch it, only when we do, we don't even laugh, AT ALL, through the entire movie. The older kids owe me two hours of my life) it's like we have many more people than that, thanks to Mr F and Mr Bunches and their wide circle of "friends," some of whom are actually friends, like Mr Bunches' buddy "Basement" and some of whom are therapists.
I should explain about Basement. The other day, I took Mr Bunches and Mr F to our local swimming pool, the one that's shallow enough on half of it that the boys can swim and wade without constant supervision, and also it's fenced in so that it's possible sometimes to take your eyes off a boy for as much as 0.000001 seconds, that being the longest break one can get when supervising the boys.
As we arrived at our usual picnic table there, and were taking off our Crocs and shirts -- having worn our swim trunks because I'm always able to plan ahead and save time by wearing my trunks to the pool, while I'm never able to plan ahead and think "But what will I wear home, once those trunks are soaking wet?" -- Mr Bunches looked and said "Oh, it's basement."
I was 100% sure he said basement, and only about 0.00001% sure what he meant, so I did what I usually do when I don't know what Mr Bunches is talking about, and I repeated what I thought he'd said.
Mr Bunches: There's my friend basement.
That also did not clear it up. So I went to plan B:
Me: Oh. Yeah. Cool basement! That's great!
If you can't figure out your kids, at least try to be encouraging. That's my motto.
So having slathered on the multiple layers of 110-proof sunscreen that Sweetie insists we use on them, including painting it on Mr Bunches' face because he is prone to sunburn on his cheeks, we hit the pool, and Mr Bunches immediately began playing with a little kid who said Hi to him and was calling him by name.
I thought Oh, that's nice, he must be a friend from school and focused on trying to get Mr F into the water. Mr F likes to swim, but he doesn't like to swim with me, as he suspects that I am always on the verge of trying to trick him into actually swimming, which is fair enough because I am: my time with Mr F in any pool is divided equally between three areas of concentration:
1. Trying to get Mr F to let me teach him how to actually swim, with arm paddling and leg kicking and face in the water and all, and
2. Trying to remember that this is supposed to be fun for Mr F and not work, and that if he wants to swim he'll swim but if he wants to wade around in the pool and laugh like crazy he'll do that and I should relax and let him be a kid, and
3. Feeling guilty because I'm either not teaching him to swim or I'm not letting him have fun and whichever one I'm doing I shouldn't be doing that one I should be doing the other one.
While I tried to coax Mr F into the pool, I heard a woman further down the edge say something to the boy Mr Bunches was playing with, and what she said was:
"Besian! Don't take his inner tube," by which she meant, I assumed, that Besian should not take Mr Bunches' tiny, impractical inner tube that I bought for $3.99 at Toys "R" Us but which was much smaller than I imagined and so isn't really good for much of anything but Mr Bunches loves it:
and by which she meant, also, I assume, the boy Mr Bunches was playing with, and I recalled at that instant that there had been a kid in Mr Bunches' 4K class named Besian and so, putting two and two together, I looked over at Mr Bunches, who was coming over by me, and said:
"Is that your friend, BESIAN?" pronouncing his name very carefully.
"Yeah," he said. "Basement."
SO: Basement is one of Mr Bunches' actual friends, and he has those and therapists and friends at camp, where he goes for therapy, and what that means is that although there are only two little boys in our house, those little boys three times a week go to a large building where there are innumerable little kids, and when they're not at that camp, they have therapists coming into our house for five hours at a time, and those therapists are the same ones that spend their time at the camp with all the kids and go into other people's houses and see their little kids, all of whom (I assume) have their own friends named Basement and so the result is that you could wash your hands until they are tiny nubs and you still would have 13 zillion viruses on every surface of every thing you own.
What we do at our house is we cycle the virus of the month through us: Someone starts it, in this case, Sweetie, who woke up three weeks before vacation and had a cough and a sore throat and had lost her voice. The rest of us try to be a little cleaner for an hour or two but by then it's pointless anyway: once someone in your house is sick, they've been sick for long enough that everything around you is seething with microscopic lifeforms trying to get into your body and reproduce, so when Sweetie wakes up sick I at first think "Drink lots of orange juice! Wash your hands more!" and I do that for about a half hour before giving up, much the way Leo gave up when he was floating in the icy water holding onto Kate's hand.
From Sweetie, the virus had worked into Mr Bunches, who lost his voice and walked around hoarsely for a week. Here's something fun: try to convince a 5-year-old boy with autism that he shouldn't talk to save his voice, and then as you think of ways to do that, remember that everything you've done for this boy in the past three years has been designed to do just the opposite and get him to talk to you.
Mr Bunches would come up to us and say something in his cute-and-sad little hoarse voice, rasping out that he would like "Blue bread, please"
(Blue Bread is a frozen french toast breakfast treet: it's shaped like a piece of bread, and comes in a yellow box, but there are two varieties: Plain and cinnamon. The plain box has a blue patch on it that notes it's plain and so Mr Bunches calls plain frozen french toaster sticks "Blue Bread")
and I would be torn between trying to tell him not to hurt his voice and congratulating him on using words, which is what we're supposed to do; there's always the chance that if you tell him he shouldn't talk, he will take that literally and will not talk again, and that is a very real fear.
What I did was I tried to talk in a whisper, to show him how he could talk (which in turn made me wonder whether he would then spend the rest of his life whispering instead of speaking at a regular volume. There's no end to worries in my life) and what he did was laugh at the way Dad talked because it was funny, and then when I'd say "You try to whisper" he'd respond really loudly "No, I think Not Whisper."
From Mr Bunches, the virus got into me, hitting my voice the same week I had to give a seminar, so I spent two days not talking at all except for the three hours I spoke to a bunch of lawyers, and then, on Saturday, I woke up feeling worse than ever and Mr Bunches wasn't better and Mr F had started coughing and he sounded hoarse, too.
"I think," I told Sweetie, "That while you and The Boy go get the rental, I should take us to Urgent Care."
...to be continued.
|This is the bridge between Metropolis, IL and Paducah, Kentucky. I made Sweetie take a picture of it because I was driving at the time.|