Archive | 5:49 am

Chicken pox? Chicken pox!

1 May

A colleague’s diagnosis of shingles (or chicken pox or maybe hand-foot-and-mouth disease – the doctors still aren’t sure) got several of us reminiscing about our childhood bouts.

I have a few distinct memories. I remember soaking in a tub of epsom salts and giggling with my twin sister as our mom covered us in pink polka dots of Calamine lotion. I still love the smell of Calamine lotion! But my most vivid memory is set in my bedroom.

My mom was a great bed-maker. We loved asking her to tuck us in at night, which meant pulling the sheets super tight and tucking them in. We’d squeal “tighter” and make her adjust our sheets until we felt sufficiently snug. Our old school flannel sheets with pink stripes were a comfort long into my teenage years, but chicken pox struck me and my sister around age five or six.

I remember being in bed during the day in my bed while my sister was in her own bed. I recall the room was dark when Mom came in carrying a tray with two bowls of strawberries. My sister and I were alert and excited. We were never  allowed to eat in our rooms, let alone in bed.

As she delivered a bowl to each of us, she said, “Whatever you do, don’t slop!” Mom was strict and I knew she meant it. She left and I did my best, but, you guessed it: I slopped.  Although I was trying my hardest, a slice of berry fell from my spoon and onto my flannel sheet, leaving a red spot I couldn’t hide from my mom.

I suspect I didn’t enjoy the rest of the berries, but I don’t really remember. I do remember worrying what would happen when Mom returned. I expected the worst.

But the worst never came.

Instead of getting mad, my mom got a cloth and rubbed out most of spot. She might have eventually changed the sheets, I don’t remember. I do remember feeling relieved and surprised, as though I’d had a great epiphany. It was my first step towards understanding that my mother was a much more complex person than I’d always thought she was.

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