Monday, December 19, 2005


Lulu has a fever. She's so hot and flushed. And just worn out, poor thing. Usually, she's a firecracker, with her orange hair and her too-loud voice and her endless energy. Today she's been limp and anything she says is a whisper.

I hate when any of the kids are sick, but Louisa always worries me. She's so skinny and when she's ill, she seems so fragile. I worry when Bebe or ChaCha are sick, but they're so solid that I feel as if they can weather an infection or a fever. With Lou, even a cold can seem like a battle.

I'm a fairly pragmatic parent -- I don't call the doctor or after-hours care for any little sniffle or sneeze. But I can be a doctor or nurse's worst nightmare -- a parent with a high-speed internet connection and a browser with built-in Google. Last year, I was convinced that Lulu had meningitis and the night nurse had to talk me down.

When I put Lulu in bed for the night, I mentioned she'd probably need to stay home tomorrow. She quietly said, "But Mama -- my perfect attendance! Can't I just go to school and then come home in an hour? Then I can still have my perfect attendance." Even when she's sick, she worries about that damn award. I told her I was more concerned that she gets a lot of rest and that her fever will come down as her body fights off whatever infection or invader has gotten in.

So, I'll be up and down all night, taking her temperature every few hours and giving her some more Motrin in a while. Making her take a few sips of juice. Uncovering her when she feels too hot and covering her up when she starts to shiver. Sitting on the edge of her bed, stroking her hot, flushed cheek as she sleeps fitfully. It's one of the times when I'm needed most and the one time when being needed makes me feel awful.

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