March 4, 2013
Berlyn came home from school Friday with a tall hat striped with red strips of construction paper and a fever. Her cheeks were flush and the hat looked out of place on her head because her eyes were tired, her hands were weak, and her body curved over like a tree branch weighed down with snow.
All her classmates wore their Dr. Seuss hats with big grins and silliness when their moms picked them up.
Berlyn’s just sat awkwardly on top of her head.
“Mommy,” she said as she looked up at me.
“When I get home I want to finish my snack from my lunch and go to bed.”
And that’s what she did: She diligently finished her lunch at our table, excused herself, and went to bed.
When I checked on her, she was out. Her chest rose and fell with deep sleep, her lips were rosy, and her hair clung to her forehead with sweat.
Later that night she sent herself to bed without dinner.
“I’m just not that hungry.” She admitted. “But can someone read me a book?”
I read her a book, turned the lights off, and she slept.
No tears, no hours of rocking, no long list of demands, no spitting out the grape Tylenol everywhere because she didn’t like the taste.
She’s six now, and I guess this is what it looks like when six year olds get sick.
The next day was similar. She’d play for a while, get exhausted, and then she’d excuse herself to her room to nap. No tantrums, no big fuss, just some rest. Maybe she’d pull a book into her bed and read a few pages before falling asleep.
And that’s how our weekend went. Even though Berlyn was sick, even though she had a raging temperature and her body was hot and at the same time covered with goosebumps, she carried on. Playing for a while and then sending herself to bed when she felt too tired to continue.
I tried to pick her long body up to rock her, but she just laughed at me. I told her to come into our room at night if she didn’t feel well. But she didn’t.
I guess my baby girl is all grown up, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t sneak next to her while she was sleeping and softly twist her hair around my finger while she dreamed.
Even though she swatted my hand away in her sleep.