The last fortnight was chicken pox time for the Woodlief boys. I have acquaintances who are apostles of all things scientific and modern, and who are therefore appalled that my boys never received the chicken pox vaccine. It seemed like a good decision at the time, given that the vaccine wears off by the time a boy reaches his twenties, when chicken pox could leave him sterile. If you inject your kid with this stuff, you put him on the hook to get boosters every so many years, and we all know in fifty years or so they’ll tell us the boosters cause cancer or penis shrinkage or an affinity for the Hallmark Channel, and then I’ll feel bad for inflicting it on them.
So instead I got to bathe my babies in oatmeal baths, and anoint them with anti-itch lotion, and generally feel like a turd for not vaccinating them like the rest of suburbia. Had I known you can get chicken pox on your schnitzel, I probably would have opted for the vaccine, even though I trust the modern drug industry about as much as I trust used car salesmen and psychologists.
At one point, as I’m drying off a shivery, miserable Isaiah, he puts his hand on his backside. “There’s something in my bottom.” (Quizzical expression, little hand fishing around back there.) “Oo, it’s a big chicken pock.”
Exhibit 127 in my quest for the 2012 Father of the Year award.
They’re all better now, albeit a little scabby. I imagine their hearts are a little scabby too, what with the whole world being turned upside down over their heads this past year. I like to think that those scabs, too, will heal, but that’s what every divorced parent tells himself. That doesn’t necessarily make it untrue, but I’m always suspicious of anything people believe when they really need it to be true.
We’re in it, though, this sick and heart-scabbed place. All I know to do now is give them whatever balm I have in me to give, and pray that this, too, will pass. Even if it’s not what it should have been, or not what someone peering into my life imagines he could make of it, I hope it’s enough to see them through.
Which is, I suppose, what every parent prays, the great ones as well as the rest of us. Let it be enough to see them through.