Hello! Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I myself was starting to believe the hype, and that—coupled with several folks telling me of confirmed flu cases around here lately—sent me off to my doctor to make sure I didn’t have the plague, or anything. The good news is that I don’t have the flu! So that’s excellent.
On the other hand, this is the first time I’ve had an ear infection without knowing it. That seems like it could be a neat party trick, somehow, but actually the reason I didn’t know is because I also have a sinus infection, and as my ENTIRE HEAD has been throbbing for a week, one throbbing ear was hardly a standout. And to top it all off, a touch of bronchitis. I asked if she wasn’t POSITIVE I didn’t also have JUST A LITTLE leprosy, but no, she said she was pretty sure that was it.
It felt somewhat vindicating to be declared sick, particularly because the scale at the doctor’s office accused me of being several pounds heavier than the one here at home. KICK A GIRL WHILE SHE’S DOWN, WHY DON’T YOU.
I left the doctor’s office and drove over to the pharmacy to pick up delicious antibiotics and a prescription cough medicine that is, I believe, also used as a horse tranquilizer. (I had to run the kids around yesterday and so waited to take a dose until evening. At which point I was mid-conversation with Otto when the room went all wavy and I declared, “Hi! I have to go be horizontal now! Bye!” and went and laid down on the bed and hoped the earth would stop undulating.) The pharmacist cheerfully chirped, “You might want to stock up on yogurt while taking the antibiotic!” and I lifted up my shopping basket to reveal… ten cartons of yogurt. We had a good laugh as only women contemplating yeast infections together can, and then I went home and collapsed for a while.
I didn’t actually want to talk about being sick, though. Well, I wanted to talk about what HAPPENS when I’m sick. And maybe a little bit about the guilt that goes along with PBFSD (Post Broken Family Stress Disorder).
One of the things that came out pretty quickly when my first marriage was falling apart was that Chickadee could not tolerate my being anything less than 100% at all times. Any time I was sick or otherwise not at full capacity she would morph into something between Veruca Salt and the pre-communicative Helen Keller. There would be tantrums. And fits over anything and everything. And she would be mean as a snake. And it was utterly baffling to me until her therapist at the time pointed out that I was her touchpoint for “everything is okay” and therefore, if I wasn’t okay, it freaked her out. Well, fair enough. I mean, she was five.
Except that through the years, it has continued. I’d say it’s only the last couple of years that she’s stopped flipping out when I’m sick. And you know, the child is nearly 12, now, so I’m thinking she may be old enough to understand that 1) sick people don’t really enjoy being screamed at, and 2) the sky is not going to fall just because I have a virus. Just sayin’.
Anyway, she was fine this time until a couple of days ago, and OH BOY the last two days have been a blast from the past. She has screamed at me and antagonized her brother and mouthed off to Otto and sniped at her father over the phone. And I’ve tried to talk to her about it several times, except the problem there is that I always forget several key points. Namely, that:
1) She knows everything,
2) I am stupid,
3) It’s impossible to listen while busy rolling one’s eyes,
4) I am mean AND ALSO STUPID.
So last night she was so rotten to Otto that he told her he wouldn’t drive her for today’s activity—which, really, trust me, she was EXTREMELY ROTTEN because it takes a lot to push him to reaction—and I tried to talk to her (forgetting how mean and stupid I am) about how she might try to resolve things with him and she insisted that there was nothing she could do because his mind was made up.
“So you are just going to not apologize and not try to fix it, because you’ve already decided there’s no point?” I asked, baffled.
“Pretty much,” she said, before turning on her heel and flouncing away.
I’d hoped this morning would bring a brighter outlook, but she’d mouthed off to both of us before the clock hit 7:00, and then she locked her brother out of the bathroom, and I was feeling just better enough to deliver a lecture I’m sure she completely ignored, one about basic human respect and decency, and how if she couldn’t be bothered to speak to her family kindly, I was not going to speak to her at all until she could.
But I’m thinking it’s illegal for me not to talk to her again until she’s 30, so maybe that wasn’t a good thing to threaten.
On the one hand, I am willing to believe that she has some Deep Issues hanging around from the hard times, and that my being sick really does awaken some sort of primal fear in her. On the other hand, there comes a time when you have to say, “You know what? You’re almost 12. You’re old enough to know that what you’re doing is mean and jerky and is making me feel worse. STOP IT.”
And between those two hands hangs years of guilt and worry and now, apparently, an angry silence between two equally bull-headed people.
If I could find the miracle prescription for solving this, I’d be rich.