Chicken Broth, The Meal of Champions


This wasn’t the usual sort of weekend.

For starters, because it starts last Wednesday (which, on its own, is unusual enough to begin with), when I, feeling the onset of either another bout of RSI or a sprained shoulder from carrying the kid around (more the former than the latter, with its characteristic bunching of the neck muscles and little shoots of pain every now and then), scheduled a visit to the doctor.

Then I started feeling the sniffles. The kid had been notoriously snotty as well, so I assumed I got it from him and thought no better of it. He got his bad mood from me for sure, so that would make us sort of even for a while.

Fast-forward two days (and a couple of poorly slept nights) later, and I was eating sushi left-handed (thank goodness I’m ambidextrous as far as a lot of things are concerned) and feeling rather grateful that I was in fact going to the doctor, since my throat was getting annoyingly sore.

So there I went, and got a diagnosis of pharyngitis and a prescription, which included the usual paracetamol derivatives “in case there’s a fever to go with that”. Truer words were never spoken – although, the good doctor being Belgian, the accent made it quite interesting.

Next morning, I felt a bit on the queasy side. By lunch, we all did – including the kid, who is as yet, not articulate enough to do much more than act slightly grumpier than usual (something like 8.5 on his usual scale of 11).

So we persuaded him to lie down for his nap (always a major endeavor), and sat down to watch a movie, after which I felt distinctly weird1. Turns out I had a low fever.

A low fever is one of the damnedest things for me, because it is just enough to throw me out of whack and prevent me from engaging in any sort of creative activity.

It’s as if someone wearing a clown suit stepped into your lawn and stood there watching the house while humming show tunes – it’s annoying as all hell, and you keep waiting for them to make up their minds and either go away or knock at the door.

An hour later, it knocked at the door, and I crossed over the 38C line (100F for the anachronistic types that live in the US). Better still, by that time we had called the nanny and figured out that me, my wife and her were all sick, and had to resort to calling in the grandparents to take care of the kid.

I thought we had the flu or something. My parents thought they hit the jackpot. Let me tell you, the only thing grandparents long for is unsupervised access to their grandchild so that they can spoil him silly.

So we spent the rest of Saturday in bed dealing with the figurative guy in a clown suit and trying to read while the kid went ballistic in the living room, which, fortunately, led to a decent night’s sleep for him while we drifted in and out of a fevered stupor.

Then came the cramps, and Sunday drifted past in a miasma of misery, chicken broth and tea.

After another night spent waking up every two hours, no nanny and pretty much everyone off kilter, we spent Monday trying to work from home while the grandparents had another serious go at the kid. Whom, by now, thankfully seemed to be somewhat better – it’d rate him a 7 on the grumpiness scale, and it would certainly be better if he had slept at decent hours.

The only good thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that I managed to clear out a lot more e-mail than I would ever be able to with constant interruption at the office.

The kid probably thinks it was a reenactment of his birthday without his parents (he didn’t quite get what the cake was for, but he certainly remembered the fussing and having all the toys in the living room).

Oh, and another good thing is that I like chicken broth.

1 For the record, it was Nim’s Island, and anyone would be excused for feeling weird at the end. Me, being increasingly feverish throughout, thought nothing of watching a pelican ferrying a tool belt and a sea lion dancing, let alone having an imaginary adventure hero talking to some of the lead characters.