I have cabin fever.
The kids and I have been cooped up together for a week straight now, sharing germs and bottles of Sudafed while we fight our way through a particularly pernicious head and chest cold. It struck Caleb first, crusting his face (and the back of his hand, which is apparently preferable to Kleenex) with dried goo from his nose. Before the sun set that same day, Katie and I were doubled over with sneezing fits and Caleb had developed a hoarse, throaty cough that evoked images of a very near future spent in a steam-filled bathroom with the hot shower running.
As we cancelled appointments and called in school absences, we kept hearing less-than-encouraging tales of bronchial infections and insidious viruses that dragged on for days and even weeks. So we settled in for the long haul. I cued up DVDs of favorite animated movies in our 5-disc changer, Paul prepared to take over teaching my Bible school classes, and we laid in a good supply of children’s cough and cold medicine.
Seven days later, we’re on our third jumbo box of Kleenex, I’ve watched “Flushed Away” eleven times, and Katie’s teacher just called us at home to make sure we haven’t suddenly pulled up stakes and moved out of the district. I have heard so many whiny, snuffling versions of the cry “Mommmmeeeee!” that I’m thinking of changing my handle to something foreign and very hard to pronounce.
The good news is that our forced solitude is drawing to an end. None of us is running a fever today, and aside from some minor sniffles, Katie has made an astonishing recovery over the past 24 hours. She’ll be heading back to school tomorrow. Caleb’s cough has been slower to fade, but he is also displaying signs of restlessness; I even imagine I hear a faint buzzing sound when I get close to him, like the crackle in the air around a power station. He’s been recharging his batteries for the last seven days, and they’re starting to smoke.
As for me, I love my kids dearly, but I’m getting desperate to see the sun again.
Today, I put on lipstick to walk out to the mailbox, just so it would feel like an excursion. Besides, you never know when you’ll run into somebody you know at the mailbox, and the washed-out zombie look I’ve been sporting might frighten my neighbors.
Tomorrow, I think I’ll talk to some actual adults, to make sure I remember how. Remind me–what do adults talk about? All I’ve got is the ‘square vs. triangle peanut butter sandwich cutting debate’ and an extensive knowledge of the secret urban life of London’s sewer-dwelling rats.