An Open Letter to Cold and Flu Bugs

Dear Cold and Flu Bugs,

You are turning me into a crazy person.

All four members of my family have, alternately, been sick just about every day for the past two months.  You’re like the greedy mosquito that feasted on my 3-year-old’s chubby little thighs long enough to leave him looking like he had a single leg of chicken pox. Enough already.

Look, I tried giving you the benefit of the doubt. I laughed with fellow moms, joking that my kids will be the healthiest kids in first grade now that their little bodies have been attacked with every germ known to the South Bay. Hey, I even Googled “Evolutionary purpose of viruses,” just in case there was some divine reason for your being, in case you were perhaps some sly panacea for any weakness in our ever-maturing immune systems.

But no. You’re just here to multiply yourself a billion times, to infect McDonald’s Playplaces everywhere, to make December/January visits to the California Science Center exercises in parental bravery (or ignorance?). Simply: You are here for you.

And you’ve got no shame. You sit patiently atop children’s gumball machine knobs like venomous snakes waiting to attack. You sour family trips to Disneyland, lurking on bumper car steering wheels or atop happy, flying elephants.  And, perhaps most annoyingly, you make trips to the pediatrician precursors to the next trip to the pediatrician by leaving remnants of previous victims’ ills on the waiting room toys my kids can’t wait to touch.

So to you, Cold and Flu Bugs, I must say this:

 I hate you.

Yes, I know: Hate is a strong word and I don’t usually use it. But then I remember the night my 3-year-old needed to be prescribed Tylenol with codeine because his case of hand,foot, and mouth disease was so bad that he cried sad, tortured wails, even in his sleep. Or I remember the Halloween pumpkin bucket that we used as a puke pail when a suspected norovirus swept through our house like an unforgiving winter storm.

Oh, and I’m pregnant — Did I mention that? You had me pregnant and projectile vomiting into a plastic pumpkin. You’ve got no class, Cold and Flu Bugs. No class at all.

 Did you know that my 5-year-old has missed eight days of kindergarten in the past three weeks with not one — not two — but three different viruses? The stomach flu came  first, wiping out our whole family and turning our home into a petri dish that required an aftermath of harsh chemicals to disinfect.  Then it was a sore throat, a sneaky little guest who turned my tough little kindergartner into a feverish maniac for three days straight.

And then there was the most recent perpetrator — the upper respiratory infection that has left my son with a nagging and persistent cough likely to label him “the sick one” for the next two weeks. No holiday parties for you, kid. Tough luck. Maybe next year.

Oh, and thanks, Cold and Flu Bugs, for turning me into an OCD hand-washer. My kids are going to grow up with ferocious hand-washing habits, thanks to me nagging them sixty times a day,  begging them to sing their ABCs slowly while they scrub their fingers with anti-bacterial soap from a no-touch soap dispenser.  I’d send you the kids’ future therapy bills, Cold and Flu Bugs, but I know you’d just stamp your little selves all over them and send them to someone else.

 You just wait though. Because you know what? My 3-year-old —  the kid who puked into the orange pumpkin bucket on Halloween night? He wants to be a doctor now. I’m pushing for virologist.

And when the day comes when my little virologist seeks vengeance for the germy winter of 2014 — the one that caused him to miss “Farm Day” at preschool (there were pony rides!) and to forfeit the aforementioned trick or treat pail forever —  you’ll be sorry.

Your days are numbered, Cold and Flu Bugs.


Melissa Heckscher

* This article was originally published by the Daily Breeze in 2014.

sick day

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