From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2

Chicken Pox Diary

Day 1: I’m starting a diary about the kids’ upcoming experience with chicken pox. It all started this morning when Vicki called to tell me her kids have chicken pox. She knows I am undecided about whether to have my kids inoculated with the new vaccine, and she said if I wanted to just get it over with, we were welcome to come over and get exposed. She said the incubation period was a week or two, and when I looked at the calendar and counted the days, it turns out we’ll have chicken pox right in the middle of our school’s break.

Since the kids are going to be home anyway, I figured she was right—why not just get it over with? Plus, my husband is already planning to stay home that week to catch up on paperwork, so he’ll be available to back me up when needed.

On the way to her house, I explained to the kids that we were having a playdate with sick friends because we want to get their germs. They asked if this meant there’d also been a policy change about chewing bubble gum that’s been picked off the sidewalk.

Vicki made sure all the children shared juice cups, and we talked about how the timing of this was so perfect, it was almost like a miracle. Perhaps I will submit diary for publication in parenting magazine.

Day 2: Went to grocery store to stock up on calamine lotion and oatmeal bath called Aveeno. Told checker plan for having all four children get chicken pox during school break when husband is home to help. She said, “That’s good planning.”

Day 12: Keeping bottle of calamine in pocket since chicken pox expected to appear any minute.

Day 18: School break is over; daughters back in school. Husband back at work. Son home with chicken pox. New spots keep appearing; older ones shedding off. After dinner, I dashed to store for more calamine. Mentioned to checker that miracle plan is a bucket of hog slop. Then remembered Vicki’s wise words: “It’s a rite of passage” and vowed to remain positive.

Day 21: Daughter erupting with chicken pox, so she’s staying home with brother. Children’s only relief from boredom is connecting red dots on body with permanent marker and demanding exotic snacks.

Day 26: Husband left for out-of-town business trip. Son finished with chicken pox, now has flu. Daughter feeling fine but must remain in quarantine several more days. Second daughter also home with stomachache. Am feeling kinship with pioneer women who gave birth in cornfield and shot rattlesnake off porch while husband away on cattle drive.

Day 30: All kids home from school—one with chicken pox, two with flu, one faking to get in on the snacks. Time together at home giving us a chance to get intimate understanding of each person’s special idiosyncrasies, such as those observed by nurse on the job at lunatic asylum.

Day 32: Husband called early from nice hotel while waiting for morning room service. Very understanding when I was unable to remember his name. Described to him last night’s dream about oatmeal in which pantry doors in kitchen swung open by themselves revealing huge container of Quaker Oats cereal. Portrait of friendly Quaker pictured on cereal box transformed into scary-looking image of Vicki, that contaminator of children.

Day . . . So tired . . . don’t know what day it is and don’t care anyway. Very concerned about last night’s pizza order. Found pimply faced delivery boy’s cap in bathtub and suspect he’s the strong one I had trouble wrestling into Aveeno bath. Made note to give extra tip with next order.

Janet Konttinen

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