Friday Fever Dream Redux: Call 911! (Or, okay, go watch TV.)

This morning, I left my house for the first time since Thursday.

I was sick on Friday. So sick. The headache from the previous Friday returned, this time with aches and pains, chills and sweats, coughing and stuffiness.

Not to mention I was suffering from a serious Nyquil hangover.

I took two capsules Thursday night, and, as promised, it helped my “sniffling, sneezing and aching” so I could “rest better.” It also caused me to lose gross motor function and my short-term memory. I woke up in the middle of the night, reached for a sip of water and knocked the full glass over. I stumbled out of bed, intending to clean it up. But I could not for the life of me remember where we keep towels. So I just went back to bed.

In the morning, I felt like I was coming out of a multi-year coma.


Needless to say, the kids and I were roughing it on Friday. It was the first time since I’ve been staying home full-time that I’ve been this sick. And dudes, it sucks.

When the kids are sick, I take care of them. When Pat is home sick, I keep the kids away so he can rest. (And try to not roll my eyes too much. Unfortunately for Pat, it seems that my nurturing instinct only applies to people I birthed.)

But unless I’m completely incapacitated, Pat has to go to work. There’s no daycare or nanny to cover. And the show must go on. Just as staying home has erased the line between weekday and weekend, it has eliminated any semblance of a sick day.

I had to cancel our kids museum plans with friends; fortunately, they offered to take Noah. So for the morning, I just sat, holding my head, counting the minutes until Rory’s nap while he built a tower or stuck forks in electrical outlets or something a couple feet away.

Noah returned around noon. I fixed him and Rory peanut butter sandwiches, carrot sticks and grapes. Conveniently, the kids’ favorite meals are generally the least labor intensive. Though “easy to make” does necessarily translate to “quick to eat”: it took Noah a full 45 minutes to finish half a sandwich.

I sat at the table with them, begging Noah to hurry. I was freezing and my head was pounding and foggy.

In my haze, I descended into Worst Case Scenario Worrier mode.

Do you have this mode? In general, I’m a pretty optimistic person; I tend to expect good outcomes, at least more than bad ones. But occasionally this other persona emerges. It’s usually in the middle of the night: one of the kids has woken me up, and I’m laying in bed trying to fall back asleep. And then, there in the dark, I start to think about every possible bad thing that could ever happen to our family.

It goes something like this: “Why was Rory coughing? Did he leave that little piece of paper on his lamp and it caught on fire? When is the last time we checked our smoke detectors? What would I do if they went off? Would we each rescue a kid? Would Pat get both? Could we jump out the window? Does Noah know not to hide from a firefighter? Would I have time to put pants on? Should we invest in a fire ladder? Why do we not have a family fire escape plan? Where is our fire extinguisher? Do I even know how to use a fire extinguisher?”

Et cetera.

Sitting there at the kitchen table, I had a similar moment. There’s been lots of news lately about illness-related deaths in our area: dozens from the flu, many of those people aged 25-64. The tragic death of a local 9th grade student to bacterial meningitis.

What if I collapsed? I thought. What would the kids do? Could they get help?

Coincidentally, Noah and I had talked about 911 just a few days before. He’d spent the entire dinner hour describing what he would do if a “bad guy” broke into our house. These weren’t serious scenarios: the bad guy’s intention was usually to “stop the construction” in Noah’s room, and Noah’s solutions mostly involved “banging him with rotten eggs.”

On and on it went. I finally asked Noah to talk about something else. Anything else.  “But I need to tell you one more thing, Mom!”

“Fine. ONE more.”

“If a bad guy broke into our house, I would actually go into your room and shut the door and call the police.”

As much as I didn’t want to think about that scenario, I was glad Noah had the right idea about what to do if, God forbid, it ever happened. We talked a little about how to call 911. But then it dawned on me: we don’t have a landline. How exactly would Noah make that call?

Rory phone 2

“I’d ask them to rescue me from this mess, but the phone doesn’t seem to be working.”

In my “collapse due to acute meningitis” scenario, it’s likely that my cell phone would be nearby. (Surely I’d be clutching it in one hand, the other hand frozen mid-scroll on the Twitter app.)

So should I teach Noah how to use the “Emergency” function to bypass my security code, and then dial 911? I’m sure he could do it; technology is second nature to kids these days. He’s a pretty responsible guy, and he rarely has access to my phone, but I still worry we’d be opening a Pandora’s box of accidental emergency calls. Or, worse, turn him into a Worst Case Scenario Worrier.

Noah finally finished his sandwich. At 1:00, I put Rory down for his nap, and, like a repeat of the Friday before, asked Noah to let me have some time to sleep.

At 1:30, a knock on the door.

“Mom, can you help me find the pencil sharpener and sharpen those pencils I got for Valence Times Day?”


“Okay, then can I go watch TV?”

“Can you turn it on yourself?”

Of course he could. Even Rory can turn on the TV and flip through the basic channels, both on the remote and the TV itself.

Well, thank God for television and the kids’ rudimentary skills. I slept for two glorious hours while Rory napped and Noah’s eyes glazed over staring at PBS Kids.

At one point during my nap, I awoke, sweating profusely, and had a hazy but intense Worst Case Scenario Worrier moment. “Am I  getting sicker? What if Rory wakes up and I don’t hear him and he’s trapped in his crib? Would Noah go next door for help? Should I have taught him how to call 911?”

But it turns out that the ability to turn on the television was the only technological skill Noah needed. And PBS Kids did a fine job babysitting for the afternoon. At least until Pat got home.

Have you taught your kids how to call 911? Has having kids made you a Worst Case Scenario Worrier? And what show is guaranteed to put your kids in a trance when you need it?