Despite timely flu shots, good eating habits, and frankly pretty impressive personal hygiene in kids this age, my sons have been passing a cold back and forth for over two weeks now. I can hardly remember what it feels like to send two children to school. And although I’ve managed to stay healthy (knock wood), the broken nights and the days spent tending to one or the other languishing child has worn me down.
While I know that this is not the time to slack off on the meals, know that they need a varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables all the more now to get them healthy, I’m honestly relieved that when my kids are sick, probably like most kids, they shut down and eat like birds. This worried me somewhat when my first was a toddler, but now I recognize this as an inheritance from their father. I am the only one in the house who feeds a cold (or fever, or strep throat, or whatever other illness has hit me). The boys in my family subsist, as near as I can tell, on water and something crunchy until they’re back to themselves. They eat dry cereal, pretzels, rice crackers, and plain toast. Again, as someone who rarely misses a meal, who generally starts thinking about lunch even as I’m taking bites of breakfast, this continually surprises me. I might not want enchiladas or mushroom stroganoff when I’m sick, but as I’ve written before, I still usually want a couple flavors on the plate.
I’m lucky, I know, that I’m not talking about serious illness here. A friend’s son is recuperating from brain surgery and, while he’s recovering, has been vomiting daily for weeks. One of Ben’s classmates was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a couple years ago, and continues to have a caregiver attend school with him daily to monitor his blood sugar and his meals. My kids don’t have allergies or any chronic illness that we have to factor into their diets. They’re picky eaters to start, and now with stuffy noses and taste buds dulled by fever, there’s not much they are interested in eating. For days, their meals have looked like this:
Today was the first day in a while that Eli could hold his head up long enough to come to the table, but I was feeling pretty droopy myself so was grateful to discover that our favorite local bakery, Arizmendi, was making a family-favorite pizza: pesto and roasted potato. Arizmendi makes a different pizza every day, and while we all love to make pizza from scratch, this was not the day for that. Instead, we let our bakery friends do the cooking, and saved our energy to make a nice salad and slice some crudites:
Everyone ate a great dinner, and when there was interest in fresh Bolinas apples for dessert, I went to some trouble for my congested children and served them up in slices with sugar and cinnamon for dipping:
Dessert was followed, of course, by their nightly doses of sudafed, tylenol, and a fervent wish for a good night’s sleep.