It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, the caretaker becomes the caretakee. That’s what happened this week at my house. I was hit with a nasty flu which turned into a debilitating sinus infection and was down for the count. There were days I could barely get out of bed.
But when you’re the caretaker, and you’ve got three kids that rely on you, it’s not like you can take the day off (or in this case, the whole week off). So, you force yourself to do what you can, and you ask everyone to pitch in a little bit.
Some of them rose to the challenge, and some did not. Since I’m finally completely healthy again today, I’m handing out their caretaker report cards.
My middle son Johnny was born with a well developed empathy gene. He ran errands for me, asked what he could do to help, and volunteered to walk home from school every day so that I didn’t have to pick him up (it’s about a mile or so). He even arranged for alternate transportation to orchestra. The youngster was a model of good behavior. I don’t even think he started a fight this week.
My youngest son Sean had his moments. He walked to school by himself every morning (it’s only a few blocks), and he made his own breakfast every day, but he also kept asking me things like “Dad, c’mon we need to play catch” and “Dad, can you come out and kick the ball around”. Um, no. I can’t even walk to the door.
In normal situations, my wife Bridget is a great caretaker. But this was a very bad week for her at work. The earliest she got home at night was 8:30, which meant that I had no help getting the boys to and from soccer or baseball practice, and I still had to make dinner every night. Not her fault, I realize, but there were days I was literally sleeping in the car during practice hoping to get enough energy to be able to drive home. She did step up in the mornings, however, and got the two older boys ready for school.
I don’t think my oldest son even noticed.
I always assumed that animals could sense when someone was sick or needed help. I’ve read stories about dogs that dialed 9-1-1, or dogs that dragged their owners to safety. Not my dog. My dog whined that I wasn’t taking her for a walk. She whined at the back door. Let me out. Let me in. Let me out. Let me in. She stuck her nose in my face while I was trying to sleep on the couch. One night I had such a bad coughing fit that she actually barked at me, and it wasn’t a “I’m concerned” bark, it was more of a “Hey, knock it off already, I’m trying to sleep here” bark. Pardon me, princess.
All things considered, we made it through the week pretty well. One of the boys even remarked that he didn’t realize how many things I did for them until I was unable to do some of them.
That was the nicest thing I’ve heard in a very long time.