Look at how happy this kid is. He look sick to you? No? Well he was. He was sick a bunch over the holidays, and each time he was all better by the next day. Just look at how happy and not sick he is.
Me, on the other hand? I’m dying over here. Three-year-olds can get deathly ill and be fully recovered by the next day. They do this because they pass their sickness on to you. But will you fully recover the next day? No ho ho hooooo, you’re looking at a three-day romp in bed-ridden Influenza-ville.
See, the thing about kids that they don’t tell you (or they might have but I sure as hell wasn’t listening) is that they’re basically little germ factories, and once you get ’em in preschool, or let them visit their cousins, or even set foot out of their bedroom, they’re gonna come down with whatever bug is around so their immune system can get stronger by beating it. Then they pass it on to you to try and kill you because — evolution.
All told, our kid got sick on three separate days over the last couple weeks which means both my wife and I have been hanging on to dear life by the barest of threads ever since. I’m not sure when my voice will return and she doesn’t think she’ll walk again. But just look how happy the kid is!
So how’d he get sick so much? Well, because it’s the holidays and we gotta go do happy holiday things. We took the kid to happy parties filled with happy germ-magnet kids. We went to happy family gatherings to get happy holiday presents along with a slight touch of pneumonia from whichever one of his cousins happened to be sick at the time.
Oh yeah. The happy holiday gifts. This would be the second part of the one-two punch.
Holidays in plastic brick hell
It needs to be said that I used to love Legos. I’d played with them for hours as a boy. I collected all different lines, and even once waxed lovingly poetic about my old Lego Castle, still holding together with its valiant armies of knights and varlets back yonder in my father’s house. I regularly counted on Lego to tide my boy over so I could enjoy an event or show. I never dreamed of considering these eponymous bricks a mortal enemy.
Needless to say, my lifelong love affair with Lego came to an abrupt end over the holidays. Everybody gave my kid Lego. Ev-er-y-bo-dy. He got them from my parents, he got them from her parents, he got them from cousins, he got them from friends, and — damn my eyes — he got them from me.
It wasn’t as big a problem as before because the Legos weren’t so small. Up until now the 3-year-old had those great big doofus blocks that were easy to clean up and more importantly, to see on the damn floor. Now he has multiple sets of the little ones, the proper Legos, and some of these pieces, Hell, most of these pieces, are damn near microscopic.
Don’t get me wrong, he loves them. Look how happy he is! But they’re killing me, and I’m already dying from scurvy.
So just imagine the joy of being awakened at night by the phlegm bubbling up in a death rattle from your last working lung, lurching haphazardly out of bed to get more water because you can only breathe out of your mouth so it’s dry as desert sand, and have to circumnavigate what is essentially now a booby-trapped minefield of hard plastic pain. This is why I have no voice left, from all the screaming.
Both sets of grandparents stocked him up with Legos. They planned this. Beware the vengeance of your own parents, new Moms and Dads, for it will be wreaked upon you terribly and most unexpectedly. Well played, Dad.
That’s how I spent my holidays. The kid started them with a holiday party and came back sick, which meant he was totally fine the next day and I was sick all Christmas. We went to a nice little birthday party for one of his friends, same deal again, and he knocked both my wife and I down to mark Hanukkah. Finally we stayed over at his cousins’ place for New Years Eve, same thing again, which means that his mother and I crawled into 2017 feeling like 10 pounds of crap in 5-pound bags that keep walking on Legos no matter how many times we pick the damn things up!
But look how happy he is. He’s absolutely exuberant. He’s actually bubbling over with joy, with glee, swimming in his own bliss. This kid was sick? Impossible. He’s far too delighted with life to be sick. He must be having some kind of holidays, right?
Because that’s how our son really ruined the holidays for us. He showed us what they are really all about. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Festivus, or what have you, and it doesn’t matter what hardships and travails you get put through over the holidays, because everyone gets put through them.
What matters over the holidays is the joy you try to bring to other people, especially to the ones you love. And when that joy is reflected so brightly, and so surely, from your own child, the holidays will never again be the same for you. They are ruined.
It was the holidays and we did happy holiday things. We went to parties. We stayed up late with family. And we got lots of presents! Lots of Lego! He loves Lego! These were just the best holidays ever!
And so, even as my eyes dim with the onset of whatever jaundiced death virus my son has beset me with; as I prepare to amputate my leg below the shin due to the gangrenous infections brought on by the penetration of my flesh by the mask of Lego Batman; I am happy.
I will never be healthy again, but it was worth it.