LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Yesterday afternoon, I had a sick little girl on my hands. I had picked her up at the usual time from school and she sunk into the car, putting her head back on the headrest.
“I feel terrible,” she announced weakly.
I looked over and saw that her eyes were watery and her voice sounded like she was talking around a ping-pong ball. She blinked wearily and I realized, with a mild feeling of dread, it was time for the Pauline Lord sickness special.
When I was a kid, my mom was always extremely indulgent when we were sick. Even a faint sore throat meant we were allowed to stay home from school and suck on Sucrets until our tongues were numb and our teeth felt furry. On those days, we were fed two meals: chicken broth with saltines or tea and toast with butter and honey. It also involved spending the day on the couch cuddled in a warm blanket and watching episode after episode of Bob Ross on Prairie Public Television.
So last night, I warmed up some Yogi tea as Gabrielle went upstairs to get her pajamas on. She went to the basement to watch “Glee” as I waited for William to get home.
Unlike my mom Pauline, I am not an especially graceful parent when it comes to Gabrielle being sick. I credit this to the fact that I didn’t come into her life until she was 4, the point at which most parents are pretty old hat at dealing with colds. Instead, I remain bone-deep scared I’m going to underestimate how sick she is, so that by the time I realize it, she’ll have to be taken to the E.R. or airlifted to Lexington to treat some kind of wild bacterial infection. So while she watched TV, I paced around in the kitchen looking at the clock.