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Fun and Sick Days
Thursday, May. 13, 2004, 10:29 p.m.

QUESTION: What's a little cold when you're having fun?

WHAT I LEARNED: You only get so many sick days.

Whatís the worse thing that could happen to a bug-hater? Cicadas. It like a Biblical plague except itís in our own ordinary non-Biblical backyard. Lucky us - every 17 years, hordes of cicadas turn up around here from where theyíve been nestled in their underground cicada beds just beneath the green grass of our little stretches of lawn. They have a lot of bug sex, randomly fly into things like people and windshields, and make a lot of noise Ė thatís part of the bug sex thing I guess.

I donít mind bug noises but I do mind not being able to walk outside without bracing myself for possible bug encounters. I am well aware that I wonít get to sit outside with the computer on my lap in the evenings for a while Ė a favorite things as the summer starts to kick in. The advice for all of us around here on the local news is fill up on your windshield wiper fluid. Great.

I had a couple of sick days this week. Itís a bad thing when being out sick, or being out with a sick kid, or being out sick with a sick kid in tow, feels like a sort of vacation. Not a great vacation, not a good vacation, but a vacation that will do in the midst of doing too much.

Yes, even when I am doing work from home and answering tons of work email it feels like a break. A break from work responsibility at some level because at least I can say Ė hey, I canít get this in, do this task, go to this appointment, write this up, or attempt to accomplish any other workplace to-do because Iím sick today. Itís ironclad. Itís like that card you get in Monopoly when you pass GO and someone hands you $200.

A sick day can also mean extra time for many moms to spend with their kids, if the sickness isnít too sickening. Sickening sicknesses are grueling. But a little bronchitis, a bit of a cold, or a general malaise masquerading as ďnot feeling well todayĒ can mean a joyful day of film festivals, special meals on demand, and lying about on the sofa under warm blankets. Yesterday, I took my sick kid to the movies in the afternoon because he was starting to feel much better and that meant he was destined to head back to school. We would have gotten away with our little field trip if we hadnít dragged the bucket of buttered popcorn home with us. Oh, the wicked results of popcorn with extra butter are multiple in nature and so often inescapable.

For me, itís often the going back to work that gets me more than being sick or dealing with the sick kid(s). Itís all that catching up with the stuff you didnít quite get to address as the sick days fly by that can be overwhelming. Itís realizing it was more enjoyable to be at home on a not-too-sick day than being at work on a healthy day. Itís realizing that not only have you slacked off on the work tasks but also on the household chores and that now theyíre all lined up for your attention like a lot of unruly school children in an ice-cream line and youíre the ice-cream. It's realizing that it's still so worth it.

Of course, the sick day canít be a really-sick day but kind of a I-almost-could-go-to-work/school-day or this whole concept of sick-day fun falls to pieces.

We plan our vacations but a good sick day comes upon us unannounced and as such can and should be appreciated as an unexpected interlude Ė a pause in the pace of work and family life, a time to realign ourselves, a moment to stop and take a breath and look around ourselves, a chance to reconnect, and often an opportunity to do a few good deeds for someone else or even for ourselves.

I wish that I could remember to get all of this out of a normal day in the life.

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