It was one of those weeks when every time someone ran — or even walked — out of a room, you expected vomit to be the reason.
Yep. Another one bites the dust.
Sadly, my wife, Hailey, is slightly more repulsed than I am by vomit in a child’s bed, so I end up being the one to take care of it. I suppose I still owe her, after all these years, since she’s the one who gave birth to them.
Luke, 5, was the first one to fall. That means he was also the first one to recover, and while the rest of the family was home sick, sluggishly pushing play on the next TV show, he was getting more and more energetic.
“Does this match?” Luke said, racing into the family room, wearing brown shorts and a blue shirt that, on most days, would never pass.
“It’ll work,” Hailey said, too exhausted to give any fashion lessons.
“Yay!” Luke said, giving a thumbs up.
Later, Luke visited me as I was taking my turn to feel queasy in bed.
“Look at my book!” he said.
I looked up to see that it was his VPK project from last year, which I had already seen and which, to be honest, I didn’t really understand.
“That’s me and my friend,” Luke said, pointing to a stick-figure drawing.
My filter wasn’t working at full strength, so I said, “Why does your friend have two heads?”
He wasn’t bothered by my critique. He said, matter-of-factly, “Those are just eyes.”
On Sunday, Luke was at the dining room table with white paper and scissors, his elbow flying up and down, his tongue hanging out, as if his life depended on finishing this jagged ghost in the next five seconds.
“Why are you cutting out a ghost?” I asked.
“Because I’m going to put them all over the house,” he said, as if that answered the question.
“And why does it say O-B-O-O on the front?” I asked.
“The first O is his mouth, and he’s saying, ‘Boo,’” Luke said, beaming with pride.
His good humor was not to be denied. He had been blessed with enough energy to run around the house, and he was going to spend it — every last cent.
What else is a 5-year-old to do, after all, when his family is sick and he’s waiting for the next school day? At home, he can’t read well enough to amuse himself with books. He isn’t tall enough to reach the board games in the closet. He isn’t old enough to ride his bike alone.
I realized that even those little bits of half-hearted attention I had given him were probably some of the best parts of his day.
Too late, as it seems to always be, I resolved to do better at giving him the best parts of my attention. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, I would seek him out and read him a book, take down a board game, take him on a bike ride.
As I sent him off to bed, he came back out of his room one more time and said, brimming with forgiveness: “See you tomorrow, guys.”
As he backed away, about to disappear into the dark hallway, he held up both hands, elbows out, his thumbs together, his fingers forming a heart.