So Jack has been Not Himself for over two weeks now (NOT THAT ANYONE IS COUNTING) and it's... getting to me. He wasn't obviously sick until the second week, and now it appears he is going to be sick for the rest of time. And because being sick means he isn't sleeping well, I've basically got 28 pounds of Whine living in my house.
Some days he's so clearly unwell that I have an easier time tapping my sympathy reserves (which, admittedly, I have a hard time tapping in any situation.) Like yesterday, when we met a bunch of friends at a new playground. We got there first and Jack half heartedly wandered around the big toy, kicking the wood chips and pretending not to hear me call him back. When our friends arrived he was suddenly glued to my leg. He wanted me to hold him, which I would not do, but he is more stubborn than I am (I AM DOOMED) and eventually I gave in and oh, it was so pathetic. Little Jack's head on my shoulder, a tiny voice saying, "I want to go hooooome, Mama. I want to go hooooome!" OVER AND OVER AND OVER.
So even though I hadn't seen some of these friends in months and months, I took the kids back to the car and drove them home. I cooked a made-to-order grilled cheese, which was subsequently not eaten. I kept a steady stream of Caillou playing on the TV. I held a cranky, misbehaving, snot-nosed little boy in my lap during naptime because there really wasn't anything else to do, and I wasn't angry. He'd cough and I'd feel the vibrations rattling his ribs. Poor little guy.
But it's not always like that, especially when his nose ISN'T running and he's NOT coughing. I try to remind myself that he's still not feeling well, that he didn't get enough sleep, but DUDE, it's like he's competing for the gold in Pushing Buttons. (Look at that Timely Reference! Woo!) I have had so many awful and mortifying moments with him over the last two weeks (and honestly, Molly isn't a peach herself.)
The worst was probably sometime early on when friends came over in the afternoon and then stuck around for dinner. We ordered a pizza, thinking the kids would like it, we wouldn't have to make dinner and our husbands could eat as soon as they walked in. But oh, Jack was a NIGHTMARE. He stole toys, was rude to our friends and nasty to his sister. And my FAVORITE thing about Jack is that when you intervene or take something away or even just say, "No!", he erupts into pitiful earsplitting wails AND DOES NOT STOP. I mean, you'd think he wiped out on the short track! (ANOTHER Timely Reference! Am on a ROLL!)
Anyway, it was just awful. I was so embarrassed. And these were friends who are more like family - it takes a LOT to be embarrassed in front of them and I wanted to DIIIIEEEE.
Tonight I went to their house. Phillip is working late (he's still not home) and sometimes my friends invite us over for a Pity Dinner and hanging out until it's time to go to bed. I almost didn't go, just because Jack has been so Anti-Other-People (oh, who am I kidding, he's being Anti-ALL-People) and I didn't want to spend an evening constantly breaking up fights between him and his future prom date. (Who, right now, is more like the bossy know-it-all big sister. HILARIOUS.)
But we went, because I am more lazy than anything else, and my friend was going to make dinner. And you guys, it was wonderful. It was restful. It was the best evening I've had with my kids in a a LONG time. They played so nicely and they played together. They were cute, they were happy, THEY ATE DINNER. When Jack's godfather busted out the guitar, all four kids had a little dance party in the living room: Molly doing her patented squat and lunge dance steps, Jack finding a toy guitar and standing right next to the real thing, mimicking all his moves. I sat there watching them, singing along and thinking oh God, in this random Thursday evening you have redeemed the last two weeks.
I'm sad Phillip wasn't there. His physical absence hasn't been as difficult as the distance in just knowing what's going on in each other's worlds - the result of the physical absence, I guess. I'm grateful he's not going on that trip, even though I know it was a bummer, and it turns out he doesn't have to go to school on Saturday either. It feels like a sorely needed break.
He just called. He's on the bus. I better go clean up the kitchen. The lack of a proper house elf is really the only thing preventing me from calling this The Perfect Evening.