Too Polite For His Own Good

On the floor at Christmas, NOT because he was sick
On the floor at Christmas, NOT because he was sick

The fun continues. Having figured out at last what was troubling Michael, we’ve progressed from ear infections and skin rashes to gastro-intestinal viruses in varying intensities. So far the only holdouts are Daddy and Julianna.

The little boys, naturally, milked it for all it was worth. At bedtime last night, Nicholas alternated between throwing up and wailing while Michael stood two feet away, planted his feet on the tile and screamed outrage that Mommy would dare ignore him in favor of someone else. “You are not the most important child right now!” I shouted (not in anger, but simply to be heard). I had to send Alex to the basement to pull Daddy from a lesson to take Michael.

I’m so accustomed to drama surrounding illness that when we heard feet stepping from bedroom to bathroom at 9p.m., I shrugged and ignored it, assuming Alex was going to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, I heard a polite voice over the stairs: “Mommy, I threw up.”

Alex sounded so matter-of-fact, so calm. I was putting away my scrapbooking stuff, and I didn’t see any reason to drop everything. After all, Alex is old enough to get to the toilet, and he sounded like he felt better now. “Is it okay if I finish putting things away before I come up? Do you need me right this minute?”

“Well…I guess not.”

“Okay, I’ll be up in a minute.” I threw away the paper scraps and stacked the books and half-finished pages, then clarified, “You did get it all in the toilet, right? Not on the floor?”

“Well, no.”

“It’s on the bathroom floor?”

“No, my room.”

Ahem: his room, in case you’re wondering, is CARPETED.

I’ll spare you the details. There actually is a point to this story.

Alex sat on the floor looking guilty (I thought) as I gagged my way through cleanup…bear in mind my stomach is none too sturdy at present either…and I scolded and scolded him. After fifteen or twenty minutes, he went back in the bathroom and sat miserably on the toilet lid. Christian came up and attacked the smell with vacuum cleaner and Resolve and baking soda and Febreeze. I made some baking soda water for Alex to gargle with, and he listlessly did so. And only then did I realize my darling firstborn son was still feeling terrible. It’s just that the  plethora of screaming, whining, clinging and wailing from his younger siblings is not his style. He’s so polite. So thoughtful. And he felt so guilty already for making the mess, he didn’t want to put any more demands on me.

Oh, how I love this boy.

I put him to bed on the floor with whatever blankets we could scrounge up: a baby blanket, his Santa Claus Snuggie, and Julianna’s fuzzy robe for extra insulation. “How’s that?” I asked.

“It’s okay, I guess.”

I went into my room and started to get into bed. Then, “Christian, you don’t really need that extra blanket you use, do you?”

“Oh, I suppose not.”

I took it in to Alex. “Do you need one more?”

He took so long to reply, I thought he was asleep already. “It would help,” he admitted.

I folded the blanket in half and put it over him. “I’m sorry I was scolding you,” I said. “You’re so polite about it, I didn’t realize you were still feeling bad.”

He put his arms up and gave me a hug, and I retreated, at last, to my room.

“God,” I said at prayer time, “I’m going to stop asking you for everyone to feel better, because your answer sucks.”

Christian just laughed.