Strep Throat Can Be Good For You

I’ve written a number of times about my admiration for the work my wife puts into being a parent. She’s home with Eitan every day, feeding him, playing with him, cleaning him up, cleaning up after him, making sure he doesn’t set the apartment on fire1 and everything else a mom needs to do. She does an amazing job, even when she’s not feeling her best.

Which brings me to last week.

You might have noticed that’s it’s been about two weeks since I published my last post. The first week was just really busy with work, as I had to prepare a presentation for the entire department, in addition to my usual responsibilities of home visits and other paperwork.  Last week was a little different, though. Trudy wasn’t feeling well on Monday evening and woke up Tuesday morning with a fever above 103, so I took a personal day to look after Eitan and let her recover a bit.

Eitan and I went to music class in the morning and he napped for a while on the way home.  I had been so proud of myself for managing to get him out of the car and into the apartment without waking him up, but as soon as I tried to put him down on the bed, his eyes popped open. We spent most of the rest of the day at home; Trudy slept a fair amount while I chased after Eitan and kept him away from her so she could relax. I know that sounds pretty simple, but when you consider the fact that Eitan is a very active 16-month-old whose idea of playing includes riding his father like a horse, throwing his toys and food2 and figuring out all the different kinds of noises he can make with his voice, you start to think a little differently about the energy he demands. Once he was finally asleep for the night, I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger after his first day of teaching in Kindergarten Cop:

I collapsed onto the couch to watch some television with Trudy before we went to bed ourselves. My muscles ached, my head hurt, there was a slight ringing in my ears and my throat was sore.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “That’s so pathetic. Your wife does this every day by herself and you’re complaining about one day when you weren’t even alone the whole day. Get over it.” I assure you, I was thinking that same thing that night. And then, as I was sitting on the couch, my headache got worse and I started feeling chilly. When I eventually took my temperature, the thermometer read 102.7.

It might not sound like it, but I thought this was terrific news. I wasn’t exhausted because I’d spent a day with Eitan; I was exhausted because I was sick. And even though there’s clearly no shame in being exhausted from spending a day looking after a toddler (as any stay-at-home parent will readily admit), I somehow felt better knowing that Eitan wasn’t the only reason for my feeling beat. Every parent wants to take care of their children and every parent questions whether they’re making the right decisions and whether or not they’ve got what it takes to be a good parent. It’s amazing how quickly the feelings of self-doubt begin to creep in when something goes wrong, whether it’s about a child getting hurt, a child getting sick or a child throwing a tantrum in a public space.3 My first reaction is always to feel like I’m doing something wrong. That’s why I felt much better knowing that it was my body being attacked by infection as opposed to being a wimp who couldn’t cut it after one day of chasing a toddler. I’d been thinking that there was something wrong with me, that I somehow was not making the grade because I was so wiped at the end of the day. But when I saw I had a fever, I had been given a different reason to point to.

I may have come down with strep throat, but my self-esteem was perfectly healthy.

1. Last week Eitan figured out how to open the protective cases we put on the stove to keep him from getting to the knobs. Remember, he’s smart.
2. Yeah, this hasn’t totally been solved yet. We’re almost there.
3. I’m open to the possibility that this doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s just me. Most of the blogs and other articles I’ve read, though, support my point.

“I’ve Been Robbed”

(Approximately 2:45 AM)

Police:  Police precinct, how can I help you?

Aaron:  I need to report a crime.

P:  What happened, sir?

A:  I’ve been robbed.

P:  Are you hurt?

A:  No. I’m tired and a bit cold, but not hurt.

P:  Did you see the thief?

A:  Yes, it was a woman. 5’2, brown hair a bit below her shoulders. I couldn’t see her eyes, though. There was someone else there, too, but I’m not sure if they were working together or not.

P:  Was she armed?

A:  I don’t think so.

P:  Who was the other person?

A:  It was a baby. A toddler, really. Probably just under a year and a half. Light brown hair, practically blond. And the cutest face you’ve ever seen.

P:  Pardon me? Are you saying a toddler was an accomplice in a robbery?

A:  I’m not saying I know for sure. It was just an idea, given the circumstances.

P:  And what circumstances are those?

A:  Well, the baby started crying and when I went to go make sure he was all right, that’s when I was robbed. I thought maybe he created the diversion on purpose to distract me so the woman could finish the job.

P:  I see. Where did the theft occur?

A:  Here, in my apartment.

P:  Is the thief still in the apartment?

A:  Yes, she’s in my bedroom.

P:  You’re still in the apartment with the thief?

A:  Yes.

P:  Sir, are you safe? Can you leave without the thief knowing?

A:  Probably. But she’s asleep in the bed and I’m in the living room, so I should be fine.

P:  The thief is asleep?

A:  Yes.

P:  How long ago did the theft occur?

A:  I don’t know, exactly. Five, maybe ten minutes.

P:  And the thief just fell asleep afterwards?

A:  Actually I think she was asleep the whole time. That’s why I couldn’t see her eyes – they were closed.

P:  The thief robbed you while she was asleep?

A:  Yes, that’s correct.

P:  And what, exactly, was stolen?

A:  My blanket.

P:  Excuse me?

A:  My blanket. Navy blue, with some other colors here and there. She stole it from me. That’s why I’m cold.

P:  Are you sure that’s what happened?

A:  Of course I’m sure. She’s sleeping with the blanket right now.

P:  In your bedroom.

A:  Yes.

P:  Sir, do you know the thief? Have you seen her anywhere before?

A:  Yes, practically every day for the past nine and a half years. It’s my wife; I would hope that I’d be able to recognize her.

P:  Sir, let me get this straight. Your baby woke up crying, you went to take care of him, and when you came back to bed, your wife had stolen your blanket. Is that it?

A:  That’s correct.

P:  Good night, sir.

A:  What?


Lesson #3: The Chicago Bears

I don’t spend a lot of time watching sports.

This is not an entirely new development; it’s been a gradual decline over the past five or six years or so. And over the last two years or so, my live sports consumption has dwindled to almost nothing.

There are a few reasons for this trend. The most significant, of course, is that I just don’t have as much time as I used to. Between a full time job and two part time jobs, plus actually wanting to spend some quality time with my wife and son, it’s not easy to carve out a three hour block (at least) to watch a game start to finish. I’m pretty sure the last game I tried watch from the beginning was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and we all remember how that turned out. I barely even watch highlights anymore, although that has a lot to do with my disappointment in what Sportscenter has become, as opposed to just not having the time.

It does get hard sometimes to stay passionate about my teams, even though my loyalties have been set since I was a child. There is only so much information you can get about a team from reading articles and listening to podcasts. To really feel connected, you need to be watching the games. Even fantasy leagues only take me so far; there’s a big difference between watching your quarterback throw seven touchdowns – four of which to your number one wide receiver1 – as opposed to constantly clicking “refresh” on the box score on your phone. The fantasy teams keep me involved in terms of paying attention to the league and staying informed, even if I’m not watching, but the feeling of really understanding the circumstances surrounding my team just isn’t there.

That being said, I don’t think I would enjoy it as much right now anyway. I have so little time at my disposal to spend with Eitan as it is, so I wouldn’t want to spend it sitting in front of the television. Plus, even if I tried, he’s 16 months old; he doesn’t care about sports yet. He’d rather tear the cable wire out of the wall or point out every single bus that drives by or take every book off the shelf or move the furniture around than sit and watch grown men yelling, grunting and fighting over a leather-bound ball. If I were to sit down to watch a game, I’d feel like I was missing something.

I know that a day will come when he and I will be able to sit and watch a game. We’ll be able to talk about Da Bears, both the heroes from 1985, like Sweetness, Ditka, Jim McMahon and the Fridge, and from more recent teams, like Urlacher, Briggs, Forte and Cutler.2 He’ll be able to quote the famous Saturday Night Live sketch that gave me the name of many of my fantasy teams, Hurricane Ditka. By then, maybe the Bears will actually have been able to win another championship.

Or maybe I’ll just have to teach Eitan the Super Bowl Shuffle and be satisfied with that.

1. Peyton Manning to Wes Welker, week 1. And by the way, I lost that game. Thanks, Maurice Jones-Drew.

2. Granted, today’s players have yet to truly earn “hero” status, with the likely exception of Urlacher.