Parenting While Sick: The Sixth Circle of Hell

I’ve been struggling with a nasty flu that hit me fast. I’m no doctor, but the high fever, cold sweats, and general misery are all symptoms of a radioactive spider bite. So I’m thinking there’s a good chance I’ll come out of this thing with super powers, which is exciting, but also kind of unnerving because my frame isn’t exactly built for a leotard, you know?

Sadly, the doctor disagreed with my diagnosis. There would be no superpowers. It was just something viral that one of my kids brought home. Children truly are the gift that keeps on giving.

Throughout all this, I got to enjoy a couple of brutal days of parenting while sick. My wife abandoned me for “work,” leaving me with 12 hours of quality time with two 3.5-year-olds and a 101 fever.

It’s a little known fact that “parenting while sick” was actually the punishment given to heretics in the sixth circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno, but Dante’s editor thought the punishment was too harsh, so they went with flaming tombs instead.

Every typical parenting duty—getting the kids dressed, fixing breakfast—is a slow, agonizing torture when your fever is so high you can feel your toenails grow. Suddenly, a simple request like, “daddy, can I have a juice box?” becomes a monumental feat of heroics. It’s only 12 steps from the couch to the fridge, but she may as well have asked me to squeeze the apple juice from a stone.

I spent a lot of time “supervising” from the couch…with my eyes closed.

On the upside, I learned that my two little toddlers are really sweet children with an amazing capacity for empathy. My daughter kept bringing me various trinkets (a watch, a juice box, a salt shaker) and saying, “this will make your body better, daddy.” My son didn’t throw a single tantrum over the color of his milk cup, the volume of the TV, the wattage of the light bulbs—the things that usually set him off. Instead, they played well together, building an entire city of block towers, and asked me throughout the day if I was feeling any better now.

I also learned that I’m probably a better parent when I’m sick, which is surprising. I’ve always known that I’m a great “tipsy parent” (no one loves their kids more than I love my kids after four beers), but I’m probably the world’s worst hungover parent. The combination of physical pain and emotional guilt is too much for my feeble mind to handle.

Sidenote: I’ve always suspected that potheads would make great stay-at-home parents. Is anyone more patient or better at craft projects? I don’t think so.

Anyway, when I was sick, I was way more patient than I usually am, and by patient, I mean I let the kids do whatever they wanted.

Goldfish and donuts for lunch? Sounds good. Want to build a tower out of old batteries and scissors? Wash your hands first.

I just didn’t have the energy to fight the good fight for nutrition and safety. Maybe tomorrow.

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Drink of the Week: Smooth Ambler Gin Martini (two of them)

I found this small batch gin outside of Lewisburg, West Virginia. They get the grains, and botanicals locally, and have won a couple of bronze medals at weighty spirits competitions.

I’m usually a beer guy, but it’s been a rough week full of sickness, tantrums, and potty accidents—and that’s just me. Don’t even get me started on the week my kids have had.

Pour copious amounts of Smooth Ambler gin and two splashes of olive juice into a shaker with half crushed ice and half cubed ice (no, I don’t use vermouth). Shake the hell out of it, so the ice breaks down, watering the gin just a little. When you pour the martini into your glass, the liquid should be slightly cloudy and just a little bit slushy with ice crystals.

Drop a jalapeno stuffed olive into the glass and drink it fast, while it’s still ice-cold. You have another one waiting.

Find Smooth Ambler here.

For the Ladies

The six scariest words you’ll hear from your three-year-old: Look daddy, I have glitter glue.

The six scariest words you’ll hear from a heavily bearded man who drinks too much and spends most of his time with two three-year-olds:  I’m blogging for a women’s magazine.

What could possibly go wrong? Check it out.

Read Breathe, people. Read Breathe.

Lie to Me: Five Lies I’m Proud of Telling My Kids

Parents lie to their children. That’s a fact of life. Some do it better than others, but we all do it. Could you imagine a world where parents were honest with their kids?

“Actually, Timmy, there’s a really, really good chance that you won’t be an astronaut. Considering your complete inability to understand long division, you’re probably going to sell cars when you grow up. Now let’s talk about Santa Claus.”

So we lie. Mostly about the little things. My parents were great at it. The most famous lie my parents ever told their kids happened during a move from Georgia to Texas. My parents told their kids that it was against the law to transport a dog across state lines.

Brilliant. The dog was a pain in the ass, they didn’t want to take him along. I understand this now, and it serves as inspiration for my own suite of lies that I rely on to get through the day.

The key to a good lie, is to lay the blame on a third party. For instance, let’s say you want your kid to wear a jacket. Tell him it’s an order from his pediatrician. “Dr. Love (our pediatrician) says you have to wear a jacket when it’s below 50 degrees. I’m sorry, son, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

We lay a lot of shit on Dr. Love. “Dr. Love says I’m not allowed to carry you on walks anymore. You have to walk on your own. I know, I think it sucks too. We should talk to Dr. Love about it the next time we see him.”

“Dr. Love says you’re big enough now to open the fridge and get daddy a beer…”

You see where I’m going with this. So, here are five lies I’m okay with telling my children.

1. Elmo is sad because you didn’t take a nap. (Simple, effective…no kid wants to disappoint Elmo. You can use that love to your advantage.)

2. Princesses always pick up their toys after they’re done playing. (I’ve never met a princess, but something tells me they don’t spend a lot of time cleaning up after themselves.)

3. Every time you flick the lights on and off, a fairy dies. (Harsh? Sure. But do my kids constantly flick the lights on and off, anymore? No.)

4. We have to leave this park right now, because there are killer bees. (This one works, but it comes with consequences. My kids are really scared of bees now.)

5. Mommy and daddy have a work meeting, that’s why we have to get a babysitter. (There is no work meeting. Mommy and daddy just need three hours of peace and quiet and a meal that doesn’t include french fries. Okay, even that was a lie. We’re totally ordering the french fries.)

So, parents, what are the best lies you tell your children? Or, what lies did your parents tell you as a kid?