A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out But You Can Lie Around Listlessly With

Things were going fine yesterday evening until dinner time. Eli had no interest in his food at all. That’s not uncommon for many toddlers, but it is a little strange for Eli. Thirty minutes later he was whining piteously and demanding to be held. He lay down on Misty and looked around with glassy eyes. Misty and he discussed his situation.

MISTY: Do you feel bad?
ELI: No.
MISTY: Does your head hurt?
ELI: No.
MISTY: Do your teeth hurt?
ELI: Noooooo.
MISTY: Does your stomach hurt?
ELI: No.
MISTY: Do your toes hurt?
ELI: Nooo.
MISTY: Are you suffering from ennui?
ELI: Yeah.

We were a little unconvinced, so I grabbed the thermometer from the bathroom and gave it to Misty. We put it under his arm, announcing, “Here comes the chicken wing! Make a chicken wing!” Eli obliged and waved his other arm in a Funky-Chicken-like move.

Look, it’s the only way we get him to hold still long enough to measure his temperature. Shut up.

Anyway, whoops, he had a fever of 101 degrees! Friends were coming over in thirty minutes to watch a movie, so we figured we’d need to give him some Tylenol, put him to bed, and have a good time with our friends.

I went to clean up his room and distinctly heard the next issue of Guilt magazine being flung against our front door. I put him to bed and read him a story (“Not that one, that one is too small,” he whispered softly, barely able to hold open his eyes). I covered him up and watched him shake with chills for a moment before I left the room.

The rest of the night I had flashes of us going into his room and finding him dead. He would be limp and still, eyes staring at nothing. I’ve mentioned that parenting brings with it unreasonable fears that float around in a cloud until something happens and a strike of lightning leaps from the cloud to your brain, right? Here it is in action.

I checked on him before we went to bed. He opened his eyes and stared at me, or so I thought — it was hard to tell in the dimly-lit room. “Go back to sleep,” I murmured and beat a hasty retreat. Five minutes later I went back to check on him, afraid I hadn’t really seen his eyes open, and what if he really was dead? Thankfully he was asleep and visibly breathing.

We did get up with him at around 2:30 when his whimpering woke us up. We gave him more Tylenol and some water and left his door open, telling him to come get us in the morning when he woke up. So of course by 7 he was awake and completely fever-free.

Toddlers! Aren’t they fun!

7 thoughts on “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out But You Can Lie Around Listlessly With

  1. Whenever A sleeps in (and by “sleeps in” I mean “doesn’t wake up at 6:30”), F and I are always a little nervous. What if he’s dead? He’d be quiet like this. Then he hears us whispering and wakes up and starts screaming and things are okay again.

  2. And of course, as soon as I read this, I thought, hm. And sure enough, A has a fever of 101.

  3. Man, I feel for you. I don’t know how many times I’ve had that feeling, and my kids are almost 6 and 8 now. I still find myself checking on them a lot when they’re not feeling well.

  4. Oh boy am I familiar with that one. The “death in sleep” fear is like a gutter running alongside the bowling alley of my normal thought process. And my thoughts aren’t very good bowlers, so they slip in there on a very regular basis.

    Okay, this metaphor is coming out odder than it sounded in my head.

    My point is that I am struck by that fear about Dante several times a week at least. I’ve even begun having it about Laura. I don’t know whether it’s the fear of SIDS irrationally extended beyond infancy, or Star Foster’s recent death, or just having watched a Buffy episode with a sudden death in it, or what (probably a combination of all of these plus 69,105 other factors) but the fear is at a higher pitch than usual these days.

  5. I’m not sure when we stopped checking on our two sons. There’s a strong memory that lives in my head of innumerable nights going into the darkened. night-light-lit bedroom and listening for the breathing and/or lightly placing a hand on the torso–or even stooping down to see if the low light level allowed a visual check on movement caused by movement. Kids come down with illnesses quickly; fortunately they heal (generally) equally quickly.

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