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Luckily, my job at the library puts me in a category that I like to call “working mom lite”. If I’m not in for the day, the kids get to keep their library books for another week. As it was,  they called in a substitute for me Wednesday, the day after that….and the day after that.

Four days at home had me thinking about what a sick day meant when I was a kid and what has changed.

I had a lot of colds and sore throats as a kid — each of which meant a trip to the pediatricians’. People that joke about having “paid” for their doctor’s new boat haven’t seen the summer house we helped OUR pediatrician buy. Next to the parenting “bible” author Dr. Spock, Drs. Jones, Daly, and Coldren were the final word in parenting for my mom.

I can still see the small wood-paneled waiting room, ringed by wooden chairs and little end tables and smelling of Lysol. The only way to pass the time was to read (or have read to you) Highlights magazine or a volume of The Bible Story. With bright blue covers and colorful illustrations the ten-volume set was well-worn, with peeling covers by the time we got to it.

While trying to determine that they existed as I remembered, I was pleasantly surprised to find several sets for sale on Ebay (source of picture above). My memories were further confirmed by the following entry in Wikipedia…

“He (Arthur Maxwell) wrote a total of 112 books during his lifetime, and is known affectionately by Adventists around the world as “Uncle Arthur.” His most notable publications include the Bedtime Stories and The Bible Story volume sets. The simple stories are morality tales that illustrate values such as honesty, diligence, obedience, and selflessness. Volume 1 of The Bible Story, which tells the story of Genesis, upholds the historicity of the Bible account, including the creation of life on earth during a six day creation. This book since the 1950s has been found in many doctors’ offices in the United States which includes postcards on how a complete set can be ordered.”

So true! BOTH Highlights and The Bible Story were packed with subscription cards that almost outnumbered the puzzles and stories. To summarize, besides ringing doorbells, the Adventists were fishing for subscriptions and SOULS in waiting rooms across the county. Fascinating.

At the office Will and I visited this week, the focal point of the waiting room is the fish tank — situated thoughtfully where folks sitting in the main room AND the “well-child” room can enjoy it. That’s new too, the option of NOT sitting with your newborn next to a child with a “mystery” rash over 80% of their body. There are plenty of toys in both rooms, but I didn’t see a single book. That’s kind of sad. 

A positive strep throat (ouch!) test later, we swung by CVS and headed home. I made up the family room couch into a little sick bed and joined Will for some television.  When I was a kid, the biggest perk of staying home was having a little black and white TV on a tray in my bedroom. House protocol (read as, “my father”)required the isolation of the patient from the rest of the family, but I loved it. Control of all THREE channels? What more could you ask for?

With 400 channels and On Demand, the decision of what to watch was almost too much for Will and I, but we settled on a family favorite that has a lot (okay, ONE thing) in common with one of my childhood favorites…

In the late 70s and early 80s, “Alice” came on every morning around 10 am and kicked off a morning of entertainment that also included “The Love Boat” in all it’s cabin-hopping glory. Set in Mel’s Diner, “Alice” starred Linda Lavin as the title character, child star Phillip McKeon (yes, Nancy’s brother) as her son, and a supporting cast of wise-cracking waitresses and customers. The owner and cook, Mel, was to sexism what was Archie Bunker was to bigotry, and it was HILARIOUS. Flo told customers to “Kiss my grits!”, and the laugh track roared.

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, starring Guy Fieri, is one of our favorite shows. Fieri’s big personality shares the spotlight with amazing locations and mouth-watering food. It’s entertaining family fare. The only possible downside being that it makes you really hungry (or really nauseous, depending on your condition). **Rumours that we also watched an episode of Full Throttle Saloon are completely unfounded**.

Speaking of food, the menu in the sick room was very limited when I was young. Saltine crackers, orange Kool-Aid, and soft-boiled eggs were the fare. I’m not sure who decided that serving a sick child an UNDERCOOKED egg was a good idea, but it was pretty tasty and surprisingly easy on the stomach.

Today’s recipe for recovery might start with crackers, but yogurt, particularly in its portable form is today’s gentle starter food. Gatorade is the go-to drink for replacing lost electrolytes. It’s more expensive than Kool-Aid, and it isn’t any easier to get out of the carpet (ew!).

When it came to cough suppression, my mother was homeopathic BEFORE it was COOL. If I woke up coughing in the middle of the night, our family remedy was a tablespoon of honey and lemon juice (preferably, out of the lemon-shaped bottle!) . Thick and tart, it’s a taste I can easily recall today. It worked, but not for long. While today’s 12-hour remedies may not last as long as they claim to, they do help coughing kids (and their mothers) to get some sleep. This is progress.

Being sick isn’t fun, but the extra time home with my mom was special and a big part of any “cure”. It seems to be working for Will, too. He’s feeling better, and we played a couple of board games this afternoon. Afterwards, he thanked me for “our great week together”! And, I’d have to agree (with the possibly exception of the vomiting, crying, and sleep deprivation). Love you, buddy!

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