The ‘malaise & ennui’ category

When Vacation Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade, But Then Cancel the Lemonade Stand Anyway

July 4th, 2022

Both of my kids are down with a vicious stomach bug on Independence Day, and that seems about right. We are going to miss the first town parade in three years, the party our good friends are having later, the family reunion we’ve been looking forward to for three years—which we are missing as I write this—and the lemonade stand we meticulously planned out yesterday.

We weren’t supposed to be back from vacation yet, but our trip got massively derailed, and when vacation gives you lemons, come home and make lemonade, right? That was the idea we concocted yesterday, when we made the sign, bought the lemons, and got really excited for the first lemonade stand of their childhood.

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Things took a turn last night, so we had to break it to them that the lemonade stand has been postponed. As Jon kindly explained, people don’t love buying lemonade from virulently ill little girls.

Currently, my daughter Phoebe is still asleep in the bed next to me, way past when she normally wakes up. I am hoping she sleeps and sleeps until she feels better. Just before the stomach bug kicked in three days ago, we had to bring her to urgent care on Cape Cod because she had… get this… scarlet fever. Oh you didn’t know that’s a thing children could get in the year 2022? Me neither. But if there is a germ out there, even if it’s been lingering around since the time of the Bronte sisters, my daughters will get it. 

Except COVID, of course. We’re the freaks who haven’t had COVID yet. When I brought Phoebe into the urgent care clinic, there was a very long wait, and I asked if we could possibly wait outside. The receptionist shrugged, “I guess so?” she said. 

I gestured to the room packed full of people dry coughing and explained, “We haven’t had COVID yet, so I’d just like to be safe.” 

She looked at me like I was a unicorn she suddenly found wandering a city street: “You haven’t had COVID yet?” Truly, she was incredulous. “Don’t you think it might be better to just get it over with, at this point?”

She has a point, but as I replied, “Maybe not on vacation though?”

(Sidebar: I am 99% sure this is where the stomach bug came from.)

The truth is, it’s starting to feel weird to not have had COVID yet, but honestly, I’m not sure my nervous system can take one more thing, at this point. Ever since the masks came off at school in the spring, we’ve had every malady under the sun in my household. Multiple really bad colds that inexplicably never turned out to be COVID. Sore throats. Stomach bugs. Scarlet fever. One particularly scary monkey bars incident in the mix.

I used to be a person who prided myself on being reliable. If I said I was going to show up somewhere, I did. I rallied for social events I did not want to go to. I planned out elaborate vacations and made them happen to the letter. I made dinner reservations with friends on a weekly basis and tended to my relationships with real physical presence

That has all changed over the last few years. If I make a plan to go out to dinner or be at a party or anything at all, there is less than a 50 percent chance it will happen. Someone in my family will get sick, or I’ll just be so backed up with work from taking time off for sickness that I won’t be able to sacrifice even an hour. I have become a very disappointing person.

Then there is the level of disappointment my daughters have been subjected to. Their birthday party, canceled. Multiple playdates, canceled. Missed school events. Absences from paid-for gymnastics and ballet classes. Half the fun stuff we were going to do on vacation last week. It’s getting to the point where I am afraid to make plans. 

As I sit here on Independence Day morning, in bed next to my sick daughter who is now up and devastated about the lemonade stand, the parade, and the s’mores I keep dangling like an empty promise that’s not going to happen until stomachs have recovered, I think honestly, Independence Day seems like a farce these days anyway. What is there to celebrate? The only freedom left is guns. But I’ll abstain from that soapbox, although I love the memes posted by my friend Rachel Myer this morning on the subject.

There is one teeny tiny silver lining to this day. I was inspired to start Wordle with this word, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten on my first try.

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