I’m helping Jasmine get ready for school when she sneezes and shoots a snot rocket the size of a marble across the room.
“Daddy,” she says, “I doh feel so good.”
“I see that,” I say. I feel her forehead, and she’s blazing hot. Laurie gets the thermometer and Jasmine’s temperature is 100.1. “I’m working from home today,” I say to Laurie. “You go to work and she can stay home with me.”
So I drive the other kids to school and, by the time I get back, Laurie has made a cozy little pallet on the living room couch. Jasmine is snuggled in between our two dogs, and has made a little fort with a Kleenex box, a tablet, and little bottle of sugar-free sports drink.
“Daddy!” she shouts as I walk in the door. “Can you watch a movie with me?”
“Maybe later,” I tell her. “I have a lot of work to do. When I get to a stopping place I’ll come sit with you.”
I’m logging into the laptop as Laurie stops in to say goodbye. “She’s excited she gets to stay home with you,” she says. “I know you have work to do, but you should log out and spend a little time with her if you can.”
“Yeah, I’ll try.”
Five minutes later, Jasmine comes up to me. “Daddy, are you ready to watch a movie with me?”
“Jazzy, I just got started. It’s gonna be a little while.”
She starts walking in circles around my desk, which is her non-verbal way of telling me, “I’m bored.”
I’m half distracted and half wondering why she won’t just cozy up on her little pallet and enjoy a relaxing sick day. “Jazzy, you gotta go watch your show or go play in your room.”
She hangs her head, and quietly says, “OK.” Then she skips off. I hear the TV playing her favorite show. Then about an hour later I see her scamper to her room. From my work area, I can hear her re-enacting the show she just watched with her dolls. A little while later, she scampers back up to me, flashes me a big, toothy grin, and says, “Are you done yet?!”
I say sure, and she jumps for joy and claps her hands. “Yay!! I already picked out what I want to watch.” She grabs my hand and pulls me to the living room.
A lot of kids might be in a bad mood when they’re sick, but this has never been Jasmine. Ever since she was a newborn, when she got monthly ear infections, illness never seemed to slow her down. Not even a little bit. She might have to pause every few minutes to find a tissue or a cough drop, but she runs back and forth with the same drive as she does when she’s healthy.
After we watch our movie, I make her some soup. But just like any other day, it takes her a half hour to eat because she’s distracted. She takes a few sips of her soup, then runs to her room and re-enacts THIS movie with her dolls. Every few minutes she comes back in, asks me to heat up her soup, takes a few sips, then runs back to her room. We repeat this cycle over and over again until she says, “Daddy, I’m done. Can you take me outside so I can go roller skating?”
“No,” I say. “You’re too sick for that.”
“Oh yeah,” she says. “I forgot.”