Flexibility is important. I'll be honest: it is not something that comes easily to me. I often fixate on a particular mission and can't give it up. This morning, as Eli, my older son, sat crumpled in the corner of the bathroom with his red, raw nose and a mustache of similar red rawness, snuffling and coughing, I knew I needed to exhibit some flexibility.
"Are you sure you can't go to school?" I asked, imagining if he jumped up and said he could that I could get on with the day as planned, that I could go to coffee,to the gym, volunteer at the new Armory for my little one's P.E., meet with a new friend in the afternoon.
He just lay there, looking up at me with his sad brown eyes, face flushed with a slight fever, robe open slightly, pathetically. I sighed. He is not a complainer, never wants me to worry. Today was different. He was fine, nothing earth-shattering, but he needed to stay home. I had nothing that couldn't easily be cancelled. Like with jury duty, I had no real excuse. I had to be flexible. I guess today's gold stars will have to go to me, for doing the right thing, and to Eli, for putting up peppily with his little cold. For he has pepped up. Enough so that I keep asking him, hopefully, as if I could still send him late to school, "how do you feel?"
He reads me 'cause he answers, "Better, but still sick."
I am glad I have the flexibility of schedule to not be completely derailed by a sick day. Eli is too. He reminded me this morning of the last time he was sick, when he was throwing up, when we cuddled on the couch, reading and relaxing. The memory launched him into memories of vomit sessions past. His brother joined in.
"Remember when I threw up on Grandma in the car?" Oscar asked Eli.
Eli laughed."Yeah,that was funny."
Oscar shook his head. "Not for Grandma..." he said. True, very true.
My kids are generally good-natured about vomiting or about being sick, especially if I can help them figure what's wrong, explain it to them in a way that makes them worry less. But, then, I worry that they might gloss over things, thinking they are no big deal, as I often do, that they will ignore warning signs of something just because they have learned to tough things out. It is a hard balance, like all of parenting, helping your kids take things in stride but teaching them, too, that sometimes it is important to pay heed.
It is for that reason that I let Eli stay home. I think it would send the wrong message to ignore his entreaty to stay home, to ignore his very unusual perch on the bathroom floor,to not agree that he should not affect the other children, that he should try to rest and rejuvenate. So here we are, both of us in pajamas at nearly noon. It's kind of nice but you can bet tomorrow, with a packed schedule, I won't be nearly as flexible.