Oh, unhappy day: Norovirus is on the rise here in Massachusetts, and I think that my abode has been afflicted. (For those of you unfamiliar with norovirus, it's an intense stomach bug that makes you pray for the sweet release of death while curled helplessly around your toilet like a drunken spring breaker.) Andy was hit first, then me, then Brian. Andy is now better, but we're not. When both parents are sick, what's a family to do? It's easy to feel neglectful. Right now our house could star in an episode of Hoarders.
Half-sipped bottles of Gatorade are strewn around the living room, crackers are crushed into the rug, and Andy has spent the past two days dressed in mis-matched clothing with his face pressed against the TV as "Yo Gabba Gabba" plays on an endless psychotic loop. I made a half-hearted attempt to clean up a bit yesterday but got tired halfway through loading the dishwasher and trudged back to the couch to play Words With Friends with my mother-in-law. So for families with sick parents, I offer a few commandments.
10. Do not fret if your child resembles Courtney Love for a couple of days. CPS will not visit simply because he or she sports saggy sweatpants and a skimpy T shirt that states "If you think I'm sexy, you should see my Grandpa!"
9. Do not attempt to clean your house until everyone feels better. Why waste a tube of Clorox wipes when your spouse is only going to retire to the bathroom a half-hour later with two Bill Simmons books, his BlackBerry, and a bottle of flat ginger ale?
8. If you are desperate to feel "refreshed," open a window or two. This requires minimal effort, and the burst of cool air will remind you that you're alive.
7. If you are ill and going it alone, your child might want to enter the bathroom with you. This might seem inappropriate, disgusting, or "too close for comfort." Yet, if you are home alone with a small child and you're also violently ill, it just might be inevitable. You are not a bad parent just because your child is French-braiding your leg hair while you moan. Consider it a character-building experience for both of you.
6. Do not feel compelled to shower. From a cosmetic point of view, natural oils are good for you. Your hair will look exceptionally lustrous after a few days sans shampoo.
5. Don't feel that, simply because you've been rendered semi-comatose and housebound, you should use this opportunity as a chance to read back issues of The New Yorker. Put the Atlantic back on your coffee table. It's OK. Nobody's coming over. God created The Real Housewives to soften the blow of sickness. Under normal circumstances, Kim Richards might make you queasy. In dire circumstances, she's comforting. Andy Cohen giveth, and he taketh away.
4. You are allowed one, possibly two, whiny Facebook statuses/Twitter updates about your condition. One status can be used as a fishing expedition, to see if others are going through what you are, to confirm that there is indeed some kind of bug going around, and to provide an alibi when you cancel all social engagements. Status two might be used as a pity cry; offers of food deliveries and messages of sympathy will hopefully follow. Then, it's your duty to slink into obscurity. Nobody, not even your elderly great aunt who plays Bejeweled Blitz, will "like" your status when you reference your latest "explosion."
3. Speaking of your family: Well-meaning people, a parent, perhaps, might suggest that you do sensible things like "take a walk" or "sit upright." Screw 'em.
2. If both you and your spouse are ill, child-care obligations fall to whomever smells or hears the child first. This can be an exercise of wills. I recommend stating to one's spouse that you have taken a very strong drug and plan to take a "quick nap." Do not emerge from your boudoir until daybreak.
1. When it's all over, rejoice and don your favorite pair of jeans: You have likely lost five pounds.
For helpful information about norovirus, which is actually going around in real life, click here.
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