Is there anything worse than being sick? Yes, there is - being sick in the summer. We’re all kind of used to getting sick in the dead of winter, but being sick at the height of summer is just wrong. Summer is supposed to be long, lazy days of friends, fun, and games. It’s supposed to be a time to relax and chill out, not have the chills. So when my son recently was sick for a few days, I really felt for him.
Luckily for him, my wife and I weren’t like my Mom and didn’t make him stay inside for a couple of extra days just to make sure he was truly better. Back when I was growing up, Mom always made us stay in and do next-to-nothing for an extra day after being sick. I don’t really know if it was make sure we were no longer sick or if it was just a deterrent to faking sickness so we could miss a day of school (of course, I never did that!). Either way, I didn’t want to have to stay in the house any longer than I had to, especially in the summer.
Who would want to miss a couple of days of wiffle ball, playing catch, riding bikes, and chasing the ice cream man for a freebie? Certainly not me or any of my old friends. Even on those sauna-like August days when we just sat under a tree and read our comic books or Mad magazine while listening to our AM transistor radios, it was so much better than being cooped up in the house. As you can probably guess, growing up in a family of nine, we had no air conditioners in the house. That is, unless you consider opening up the windows and turning on the big blue fan in the living room air conditioning. I really didn’t care for staying inside.
I remember one summer when I was about 10 years old, I had a headache and was really hot, so I told my Mom. She took my temperature and it turned out that I had a fever. Mom gave me some aspirin (St. Joseph’s aspirin for children, chewable and supposedly orange flavored - blah) and made me go lie on my bed and read so that I would get better quicker. I wasn’t supposed to do anything outside of that bed in my room. While I laid there staring up at the ceiling, contemplating how to get out of the mess I got myself into, I could hear the kids in the neighborhood outside, running around, and doing what I wanted to be doing. I don’t know which made me feel worse, having a fever or hearing my friends having a great time outside.
At some point I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later feeling much better, so I went and told Mom that I was ready to go outside. She politely told me that I still needed to rest, and that I needed to stay in the house. There was no argument, no trying to convince her I was okay, and no chance I was getting out of the house. Maybe, she said, I could go out the next day if kept getting better. Miracle of miracles, I was better the next day. There was absolutely no way I was going to tell her I didn’t feel anything but wonderful. I was going out and I wasn’t going to miss another precious day of vacation. Ah, but Mom had other ideas and I had to stay in another day, “just to make sure.” If I ever got sick in the summer again, I don’t remember telling Mom, because that meant multiple lost days of being outside with friends.
So my son got over whatever he had after a few days and went back to his normal life; work, friends, being out of the house, and enjoying the summer. The amazing part was that this all happened without being forced to stay in the house, up in his room, for one extra day. I wish I could have had that when I was a kid, whether I got sick in the winter, spring, summer, or fall. But like I said, there’s nothing worse than being sick in the summer.