Monday, October 27, 2014

Sickness and Children Running Free

There is something particularly galling about suffering a head cold in the tropics. All this warm weather is supposed to keep the germs away - isn't that what I told myself every miserable February as the kids stumbled home in -20 C weather, shooting phlegm out of every orifice? I was certain all this would be solved by a week in the sun.

Well, guess what. No. This head cold has swept through town like a hurricane, and now it is my turn to run through tissues and fight to keep the virus out of my lungs by sheer force of will.

All of which makes me cranky. And what is the lady about town to do with her crankiness when she wants to air it out? Why, lay it at the feet of her children, naturally! So let's see how I've done.

You never have to wonder where your kids are on a boat. If you can't lay hands on them within fifteen seconds of commencing a search, then they aren't aboard.

Not so in PNG. Would you believe that this town is safe enough, quiet enough, and car-free enough that any child over the age of five can roam the streets with impunity? They play hide-and-seek between the houses. They go bike riding. The visit friends without a parent in tow. And, since there aren't any kids over the age of 13, they don't have any pesky, sullen teenagers harshing their mellow with angst and wispy beard growth. This is truly a wholesome tween paradise.
Pleasantville: the tropical version.
And I'm all for the girls running off to a friend's house to look at baby chicks, or helping to run a "disco" (read: kids playing in the park to the sound of someone's iPod) the odd Friday night. But when I am clogged with mucus, I would like to hide under my covers, thank you very much, and pretend I don't have any responsibilities. But I can't. Thus, the cranky.

On Sunday, we were invited to a birthday party at the beach. Erik was in Australia, and I had a firm appointment to drink hot tea and feel sorry for myself, so I arranged for the girls to go with a neighbour.
The party was exactly like this, except with more kids and less Erik.
The girls wanted to drop their present off early, so it wouldn't get ruined at the beach. We wrapped it in beautiful aluminum foil (multi-purpose!), and the girls carefully taped their homemade cards to the front.
"It is nine fifteen," I said, "and your ride goes at eleven. You can drop off your present, but then you have to come right home again."
With a chorus of "Yeah, yeah, okay, bye Mom," they were gone.
Nine thirty.
Nine forty-five.
Ten fifteen.
By now, I was packing - fins, masks, sunscreen, towels, swim shirts, bathing suits, water shoes, drinks, food. Anything they could conceivably need at a beach barbeque with ten other families. I could feel my fever rising again. I looked at the clock. Ten thirty.

Grumbling and muttering like a crazy person, I set off down the driveway. The girls' friend lives, of course, at the opposite end of town. And she, like us, is new, so I didn't have a phone number to call back my wayward children. About halfway there it occurred to me that I could have phoned a friend who lives two houses down, but by now it was too late. I shuffled on, and tried to ignore my t-shirt sticking to my back.

Sure enough, our friends were already packing up their truck by the time I arrived. "I tried to suggest to your girls it was time to go, but they were having so much fun."
I nodded and tried to smile through my dizziness. I'm fairly sure it wasn't convincing.
Stylish and Indy slowly sauntered into view.
"Come on, chop chop, you're going to miss your ride!"
Stylish lifted her eyebrows. "Really? Is it that late?"
"But I was playing on the iPad!" complained Indy.
I reminded myself that laws against smacking children exist for these very circumstances. Reaching instead for inner peace, I propelled them down the driveway. "Look. You know you weren't supposed to stay. And now you might miss your ride."
The vaguest hint of concern flitted across their faces. "Oh?"
"Yes. Your friends are going to go to our house, find it empty, and decide we got another ride. So let's hustle."

We trotted down the street. I tried to keep up with the kids, but I was definitely on my last legs.

*beep beep*

And there was our ride.

"Sorry!" I called. "The girls got distracted. I have their bags all packed - meet us at our house?"
She nodded. My girls broke into a run. I also broke into a run, although it was really more of a zombie shuffle.

We gasped up the hill to our house. The girls beat me by a wide margin. "Grab the two bags inside the door!" I shouted.
They flung open the door, grabbed the bags, shoved their way into the waiting car and I waved them all goodbye.

I barely made it to bed before I fell asleep.

Three seconds (read: four hours) later they were back. Minus a pair of flip flips and one water shoe, but still.

I tried to maintain my sick person crankiness as they jumped on my bed and got sand in the sheets, but I just couldn't do it. Maybe I was too tired; maybe they are just too sweet.

How could I resist these people?
So we'll try a little reminder on following instructions, and I'll keep turning them loose to play. They should enjoy kid heaven while they can.
Indy flying a rainbow.

1 comment:

Little Red and the Wolf said...

Sounds like paradise. James has a cold too. I was reading your post to him and i looked over at him. Boy did he need a kleenex. We had a short daycare visit and hecaught something already.

Hope you feel better soon.