Daycare Cruddies

Finally, we beat the brain-rattling cough from daycare only to be informed of a potential (definite) exposure to RSV, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, and all the possible flus. It is almost laughable at the number of different germs fighting to infect Little Legs and Baby Brother. Almost, but not quite funny, especially considering the toll that each sickness takes on their bodies.

They lose weight, hours of sleep and their general sense of well-being. They bite and push one another, like little savages outside of their cave. At least the older one can grunt, “Me no feel good.” While his wordless brother is left with shrieks, squawks and other animal noises to express the same sentiment.

We understand, all the same. The thermometer helps to confirm what the back of my hand already tells me. A fever feels so much hotter on either one of their foreheads than mine has ever felt. Tylenol and Motrin are in regular rotation as we fight the fires burning within them.

Firefighting is exhausting work, but we must persevere.

This ongoing daycare nightmare started in the middle of March and it is now June. I question whether working is worth the constant stream of snot or the sudden vomiting or the development of a strange skin rash. I am not even including the shocking new words and phrases, such as shut up, that have tagged along to home with the toddler in my list of pros versus cons of daycare and working. Thankfully, the baby is too young to pick up anything, aside from every passing germ and most recently, picking his nose, which does not improve our chances for a healthy summer.

My brother said to expect six months of this and then it should be easy. Ha, I laugh, as easy as living with a tribe of tiny, irrational Neanderthals might be expected.

Yet, to quit now would be to throw all that time building up their immune systems away, only to restart in a few years with pre-k and kindergarten. In spite of our “progress” if it can be called that, I struggle with if it continues to make sense to expose them to other people, adults and children alike, in a quest to generate income, stay current with employment and to socialize them more than I could ever do at home?

I try not to dwell too long on these thoughts, but the questions repeat, the guilt weighs on me, and the sicknesses remind me of the physical cost to the time we spend apart. Germs and jobs make life hard and they don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

The Office Terrorist

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The woman had a plain face that was easily forgotten.  It was a face that was empty and expressionless, unless the woman was moved by emotion, and it instantly twisted into something dark and sinister.  There was nothing specifically interesting in her looks (average) or clothes (frumpy).  The important and terrible thing about this person lay hidden in her actions, specifically, what she did to each of her co-workers.

I suspected early on that this co-worker was cagey and unpredictable.  However, I couldn’t have known that at least once a week she waited until everyone left the office and crept around the cubicles.  Only a fly on the wall would have seen her rifling through unlocked drawers for treasures, tossing important papers and sticky notes, and readjusting the height and back support of the chairs.  

There was something inside of her driving her to do mean things, like a termite gnawing under a house, she couldn’t stop.   It was taking over her reason and common sense and making her more brazen each day.  Then one day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of winter, she reached an all-time low in her meanness and exploits.  

I had settled into my cubicle for the morning and was fiddling with the gears and levers to re-adjust my chair for the second time of the week. 

From over the wall, a voice yelled out in frustration, “Goddamned chairs.”

“These crappy chairs never hold their place,” I agreed with the voice from over the wall.

On hearing this, the edges of my co-worker’s mouth began to curl upwards into a smile.  She was hidden safely away in her cubicle.  She felt a keen sense of gratification that her efforts from the previous night had not gone unnoticed and thought with glee, Now, I’m ready to start the day.  Uh-oh, she felt a tingling take root in her nose and a pressure started to spread through her face. 

“Achoooooooooooo!” she gave a mighty sneeze.  It was a sneeze so mighty, it shook the walls of the cubicles and rattled the papers on my desk. 

Briefly pausing from the email I was typing, I said, “Sounds like someone’s sick over here,” and continued typing.  

“What’s that?”  a voice asked from behind me.

I turned out and jumped out of my newly adjusted seat with a shout.  The sneezer had silently snuck up on me, into my cubicle, bringing her dripping nose and germs with her.  On closer inspection, her nose was red and swollen, the rims of her eyes were pink, and she was mouth-breathing.

I thought to myself, Why did you come to work sick?  You’re going to get the rest of us….  

And then it happened without further notice or the chance to finish my thought.  She let out another mighty sneeze, in my cubicle, on my face.  It came faster than I could react or escape and with a force of putrid wind straight out of her evil belly filled with drops of flemmy moisture. 

“Whoa, ‘scuze me.  Didn’t see that one coming,” she said, and wiped her nose with the side of her hand.

I took off my glasses to clear the droplets from the lenses and glared at her.

“You Are Disgusting.”  I carefully articulated each word. 

“Don’t get bent out of shape, can I grab one of those Kleenex’s?” she asked and without waiting for an answer, she reached over and grabbed the box. 

“I better hold onto these today,” she said.

Another co-worker foolishly leaned her head out into the hallway, “What happened?” she asked.  She soon became the next victim of another mighty sneeze.

No one was safe, this rotten, germ-filled person even moseyed her way into our supervisor’s office where we all heard another mighty sneeze, and another victim was made. 

Sure enough, several days later everyone on the block was sick, sneezing and coughing, with red noses and pink eyes.

Everyone, that is, but the Office Terrorist.