The Cold Season

It’s November and the mercury says it’s 30° around these parts.

Which suddenly makes me wonder if two generations from now people will have to goog (no one will say both syllables of the word ”Google” a century from now, don’t be ludicrous you heathen monster!) what the planet Mercury has to do with the temperature here on Earth. Obviously, no one living will remember a time when thermometers were actually filled with the element mercury, which, by the way, is less good for human animals than rolling up a McRib in a gas station pizza (a McRib Calzone!) and scarfing the Rib-Zonie up between jolts of Doritos Mt. Dew. In fact, I’ve got $50 bucks (roughly the price of a short latte in 2115) that says most people familiar with that “old saying” about mercury and the temperature will think it has something to do with Mercury, the planet, being closest to the sun. Or maybe that Earth will be so much like Mercury after another 100 years of unabated global climate change we’ll all be headed to Michigan in January to cool off.

Wait. Did just reference the McRib, global warming, and mercury in the same paragraph? Yikes. I’ll take my pills tomorrow, I swear.

Anyway, so it’s getting colder now. We’ve had our pleasant, contractually obligatory, soul-crushingly-short Annual Two Weeks of Autumn, so now it’s apparently time for The Dread Balls Of Old Man Winter to crush us all with frozen Polar Vortexy suffering.

But! Before we get there, first we have to deal with the colds.  Because, yes, when you have children attending educational institutions daily with hundreds of other breathing, sweating, gooey human beings, the change in seasons invariably means the passing of tiny virulent life forms from one person to another. In other words, the kids are literally giving each other the cooties.

Our oldest pair has been struck so far this week.  Oldest Son was home from school yesterday and Middle Son today. I can’t really complain, though, because at their ages (almost 12 and not quite 11, respectively), things are a lot different than when they were 7 and 6 and attending 1st grade and kindergarten.  Man, when you’ve got kids in the first couple of grades, you just have to grit your teeth and accept that fact that they’re going to come home at some point in the first few weeks of a new school year with a cold that will transform them from adorable, tiny progeny to a 24-hour, sleep schedule-wrecking, snot fabrication and distribution machine.

The reason that happens, though, is mostly our fault as parents.  Because up until that point, you and/or your loving, parentally-devoted spouse/partner have diligently tended to the care and protection of your sweet little child(ren) with the zeal of an evangelist minister, making certain they never have unclean hands or feet that might track in dirt or—elder gods forbid—GERMS into your immaculately sanitized home. I mean, sure, when you live with one or more preschoolers, you mostly resign yourself to having toys strewn about the place like rusted, forgotten mufflers at a junkyard. But by The Seven Dragons Of Virtue, your adorable child shall NOT be exposed to the evils of modern bacterial incursion!

In other words, before kindergarten, you can successfully prevent your kids from putting the shoes you wore into the bathroom of that truck stop into their mouths, and you bathe them in anti-bacterial gel as if it’s some kind of ritualistic anointing.

But then they ride their first yellow bus and everything changes while you’re snapping up memories with your DSLR.

Once they head off to school, you’ve lost all control. Those pristine cherubs, who were once pure and unsullied by outside entities and whose immune systems routinely took entire months off to head to St. Thomas for some deep sea fishing, are suddenly besieged by foreign, malevolent agents like an horde of Homer Simpsons one million strong bellying up to a Cici’s Pizza. And in all likelihood, it’s because your darling child chose to spend mid-morning snack time idly licking a crayon little Belinda Murphy had jammed up her prodigiously running nose an hour earlier during carpet time.

My point here? Well, mostly just that my hands are cold. And I guess that means that winter is coming, which has already meant some sick time for the young ‘uns and will likely lead to more.  But having an under-the-weather 12 year-old capable of making his/her own beverages and setting themselves up on the couch with a heap of blankets, a stack of pillows, and Netflix* is a world away from having a miserable six year-old whose only crime is that his immune system, when faced with a new crowd of school kids, looks Lucy at the chocolate factory trying to fend off germs because it’s been sheltered by well-intentioned, overprotective parents for five long years.

Good luck, then, fellow parents, as cold season is upon us. And if you’ve got some preschoolers at home? I can’t recommend enough letting them eat a little dust and dirt now and then.

Trust me, you’ll thank me when they get to Belinda Murphy and The Crayon Contagion.


*I’ve got a whole rant about how the whippersnappers these days have it sooo easy with the easy access to Netflix during sick time. But that’s a different post.