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National Editorials & Columns

Sick Baby Syndrome

I grew up in a home full of people who turned into big, whiny crybabies when sick. And I am a proud card-carrying member of the sick baby club.

I loved being sick as a kid. It meant holing up in my parents’ huge bed while they were at work, full control of the TV remote and meals in bed.

And best of all, it meant endless attention given to my infinite grimaces, moans and whines. A deep sigh was sure to bring a kiss on the forehead. A loud enough cough earned me another day at home watching “Brady Bunch” reruns and “The Price Is Right.”

If you can handle the occasional puke session, getting sick as a kid is a pretty sweet deal. As an adult, getting sick stinks!

Now that I’m an adult, the first few days of any new ailment are inevitably spent sucking it up at the office. I lie to myself, force myself to forget the last time I went to work sick, telling myself that this time my work friends will help me heal.

Wrong! Suddenly, the folks whom I spend more time with than my own family — the folks whom I gab with, grab lunch with, make impressions of my boss with — treat me like a leper.

“You’re sick?” a co-worker will ask as I wipe my runny nose. I will look up at my work friend, doe eyes filled with hope, thinking maybe this friend will take care of me, baby me.


“Ew. Then stay away from me.”

All those years of being in the trenches together are over with a single sneeze. No one puts his hand on my forehead to check my temperature. No one offers to rub vapor rub on my chest. Sure, that might be cause for a sexual harassment lawsuit, but I’m sick, goshdang it! And it would be nice if someone offered.

Once my work buddies let me down, I end up doing everyone a favor and take the next few days off work. But even staying at home isn’t nearly so cool as it was as a kid.

I don’t get to upgrade to the big adult bed, because now I own the big adult bed. Sure, I get full control of the remote control, but no one is home to pick it up for me when I inevitably drop it off the bed or lose it in my pile of pillows. And could someone please tell me where I can find a “Brady Bunch” rerun? And don’t even get me started on Drew Carey as the host of “The Price Is Right”!

The worst part about being sick as an adult is no one is around to play nurse to my big sick baby syndrome.

When I’m sick, I want to be babied, dang it! I want someone to rub my feet. And bring me a hot compress. And tuck me in. And kiss my forehead. And interpret my pantomimes when my throat hurts too much to talk. And wash out the bins I puke in. And stroke my hair. And constantly change the thermostat. And say, “Poor, poor baby.” Is that so much to ask? I mean, really. Is it that much?

Now, this may come as a shock to you, but I’m feeling a little under the weather. I’m currently at home, sick, writing this column from a bed that I have been in so long that the sheets have congealed to my skin. I mention this just in case any reader out there wants to come over and take care of me. And find my lost remote control.


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