Father Knows Nothing

Efficient Sickness

2013-05-03T00:00:00Z 2013-05-07T16:17:04Z Efficient SicknessRick Kaempfer nwitimes.com
May 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Mother’s Day is this coming weekend, and I wanted to take a few moments to praise a mother I greatly admire—the mother of my children, my wife Bridget.

I’m the primary care giver for the boys—I work from home and take care of them when they’re not at school. But if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I also have to admit that I really only take care of them when everything is running smoothly. As soon as there is a bump in the road, their mother takes over. This is especially true when they get sick.

This past week a flu strain ripped through the household. It began when 10-year-old Sean came into our room at about 4:00 in the morning. About thirty seconds later he delivered a projectile present to us all over our sheets.

While I was groggily trying to process what had happened, Bridget was getting Sean to the bathroom, ripping the sheets off the bed and throwing them in the washing machine, setting up a sick center with a pot receptacle for future projectile presents, and plotting a plan of attack for me.

“OK,” she barked, “when he goes a full hour without vomiting, you can give him exactly one tablespoon of water. Do that every fifteen minutes and see if he can keep it down. Got it?”

“Um, OK,” I said.

“After he shows that he can keep down the water, he gets the BRAT diet. You remember what that stands for?”


“Bananas. Rice. Applesauce. Toast. That’s it, no freelancing. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Then she went to work, and I stayed home and followed her orders. The next day Tommy got the same 24-hour flu. Then Johnny got it. Then I got it. Each time Bridget took command.

When it was her turn to get sick, I figured I would care for her. I knew the drill by then. But she wouldn’t allow me to do it. She took care of herself.

“I’m driving to the train today,” she told me that morning. “I’ll probably be getting the flu sometime tonight. So I’ll need to get home from work a few minutes faster.”

When she got home that night, she walked right past the dinner I had prepared, changed into her pajamas, brought a pot into our room, turned on the light in the bathroom so that she wouldn’t be stumbling around in the dark, and tied her hair into a pony tail.

“A pony tail?” I asked, just curious.

“I want to keep my hair away from my face when I vomit,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I’m going to bed now. I’d stay away from the room tonight if you can. I mean, you’re welcome to sleep there too, but this is not exactly a pleasant spectator sport, if you know what I mean. Wake me up in the morning so I can e-mail my office to let them know I’m sick.”

“Okey doke.”

And then, and only then, she got sick.

It may not sound like much to you, but it impressed the heck out of me.

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Rick Kaempfer's business card says author/writer/blogger, but his real job is "stay-at-home-dad."