Kid with a cold

Faye, now 2 and a half, just has a cold, but we’ve gotten out of practice at sick kids. It’s like a sudden reversion to having infants — tiny, soft, floppy, messy creatures who seem horribly vulnerable, cry, cling, are inarticulate, infinitely needy, and prone to suddenly falling asleep. The sleep is peaceful while it lasts, though I’m no longer used to spending hours at a time trapped under a sleeping body; it’s just as awkward as I remembered. When Faye’s awake she’s incoherent: we do one thing and then the opposite and then the opposite of the opposite. When she’s uncomfortable, she grasps at straws, barely talking beyond “yesss,” “noooo,” and “Can I hold you?” There are moments of normalcy mixed in there too, of ordinary walking and playing, but they’re fleeting. It’s apparent that Faye wishes, very deeply, that everything were ordinary again; she can’t understand being sick; it’s new to her, confusing, and scary. I can empathize with this in a way I couldn’t quite empathize with infants: I can’t remember being an infant, but I do remember being small and sick as a child, and having that sense of fear, along with the comfort of being taken care of. I try to emulate what I remember my mother doing: being there, being calm, being unphased by everything. Faye was playing with dinosaurs when I started writing this but now she’s despondent, soft, and sitting on my lap while I stagger through a few last sentences. I think she likes being held while she waits for this moment to end.

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