If the common cold is the worst of your problems…

The only thing missing from TGG’s demeanor in the face of a cold is Eric Idle calling out “bring out your dead!” as he follows our first born around the house.  On average, human beings catch a cold (or what passes for one) once a year.  That means that TGG should know by now (his supposed 23rd cold) what this process is like.  All you get are palliatives…you’re going to feel like crap until the thing is done with you, and that’s all there is to it.  The pediatrician told me (back when TGG had his first cold in the summer of 1991) that we’d be passing the same cold around for the next 18 years or so, depending on how many kids I had.  It wasn’t just the cost of living and the responsibilities that come attached to being a full-time parent that made me stop at two kids…it was the common cold.  Once you’ve had a baby get sick with a cold, and you’ve experienced the alternating stuffy/runny nose, the cough, the crankiness, and the crying, you sort of tell yourself there’s only so much you are capable of as a human being.  

It is 2014.  I should be done with all this by now.  However, because life and the universe have a sense of humor, and the current economy isn’t cooperating, I am -once more- surrounded by adults with colds.  This morning, with the smell of Vicks Vapo-Rub lingering in every room in the house, and with wads of crumpled Kleenex being paraded like flags all over the place by my children I decided to do a little positive thinking.  It took a while…I’m sort of still working on it.  I came up, so far, with “at least they’re no longer in diapers,” “50% of my children are very skilled at blowing their noses,” “I have enough Vicks and Kleenex to see an army through a bout with the cold,” “at least it’s not snowing.”  Feeble, I know…

Yes, J has -perhaps out of hero-worship, or simply because he failed to steer clear of his brother, Mr. Focus-of-Infection- a cold, too.  This morning I had so much trouble persuading him to uncurl from his preferred “I’m sick, can’t you tell????” position in bed that I opted to keep him home.  TGG, who is a full-time employee with benefits and a full-fledged adult with privileges, immediately wailed that he wanted to go back to bed.  I told him to find the Time Machine, switch it back to 2008, and -while he was at it- remind me that I REALLY want to exercise regularly  before I hit that troublesome spot called “the middle-aged point of no return.”  He was appalled that I would take this tack instead of sending him up to his room, and tucking him in…

“But I’m sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Well, boo hoo you…

The survivors of the sinking of the Titanic didn’t complain as much while waiting for rescue as TGG did this morning.  As a mom, I feel for him.  I see the three year-old with the Thomas the Tank Engine underoos clinging to my shoulders are he sobs because his nose is stuffy.  I also have reached the point where my reaction tends to be “suck it up, bud.”  

My children (yes, even J!!!) are appalled by my lack of sympathy for their melodrama.  “I’m not your maid” is my favorite response when J becomes overly needy.  “Well, you’re a grown-up!” is what TGG gets most of the time.  The only reason J got to stay home today is because when J gets sick it can be pretty nasty if we have to go to the doctor.  For the record, we’ve been working on school stuff since early this morning, and between sneezes and sniffles, he’s done his chores.  TGG called during his morning break saying a cup of tea had made him feel better, and then immediately added “I know, I know…you’ve been telling me this for ages!”  

I have.  I have been announcing adulthood and its (so-called) travesties since I can remember.  The common cold, sadly, doesn’t stop the world and all its workings when you’re a grown-up.  More often than not, grown-ups have to buck up with very little hesitation.

TGG is in a transition period right now.  This transition period was entirely initiated (although he was unaware at the time) by himself, and he has to segue into a new stage of life because of it.  A world of responsibility (that he wasn’t looking for) is being put on his shoulders.  He didn’t ask for advice so we gave him none; he didn’t consider consequences, so now he has to deal with what comes out of the grab-bag.  My philosophy (and it’s not springing from the well of meanness that he sometimes believes lies deep within my core) is that if he can’t learn to buck up when the common cold comes a-knocking, he’s going to have a hard time being a full-fledged, fully-vested adult.  All the kind warnings issued out of wisdom are now replaced by figurative slaps in the face to wake him up to the fact that it’s rough out there, and -at this particular moment- he is lucky to have a cold at home, with mom and dad standing by.  At one point or another, we all have to face our first independent, solo-flight, on-our-own, oh-God-I-think-I’m-dying, moooOOOOOOOOOOoooom-where-are-you??? common cold.  

There comes a time, in every individual’s adult life, when the certainty of rescue boats while you’re floating in a lifeboat among icebergs and debris is not as concrete as you would hope.  At one point or another, we all have to learn to row with whatever we can to get closer to rescue.  If, as in Life of Pi, you find yourself stranded and the tiger in the boat is not something you can handle, you will not be able to face all the complexities of life as you should.  The resident Pi has a boat he’s stuck in, and Richard Parker is circling, growling, menacing, threatening…he’s read the book…he knows the tiger is him.  Now he has to tame it, teach it, cure its cold, and choose to drift (or float, or row) to safety…

Oh, but the whining and complaining…they are made less intolerable only by the absence of soiled diapers…

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