It was almost Spring in North Idaho. Little wisps of grass were peeking through where the snow would allow. Cabin fever moms were desperately taking their kids to parks, even though they were covered in mud. We always forget how to “be outside” after a harsh winter. The sun comes out and we step outside and the kids sort of stand there, not sure what to do. I always have to re-teach them: you can take your trucks and play in the mud, or hey, let’s build a tree fort. Once they get warmed up, it’s all outside all the time.
It was during this perfect time of the season to get out and explore that we came down with the dreaded, evil, debilitating stomach flu (queue dark sounds). The kids would sit on the couch, staring out at the neighbors playing on their swing set, with tears in their eyes. Once they were over the worst part, it was heart breaking to tell them they could not go see their best friends next door because they were still contagious. Explaining the term ‘contagious’ and the realities of our situation to my 3 year old was as fruitful as trying to pay my 10 month old to sleep through the night. He looked at me like I was trying to tear his life apart (much like the look I am sure I will get a lot in the teenage years).
They pulled their chairs up to the window and stared in silence at the kids playing joyfully outside. I wanted to cave in and be the ‘fun’ mom with no weird rules, but to curse our cousins with this virus would be terrible. So what did I do? Get in the car kids, we are going fishing!
I loaded up the SUV with extra cloths, chairs, buckets (in case Mr. Virus showed up), food, life jackets, and pretty much everything accept the kitchen sink. We drove down the road a ways and picked up some worms from the gas station and headed to Farragut Park. The sun was out in full glory; however we did not see a single person on our way there. I strapped on their life jackets and lectured them about not hooking each other, not falling in the water, and again about not hooking each other. I had the baby in the ergo front pack, which made it almost impossible to bend over. We fished in the shallow water so that if someone fell in, I could grab them up without getting the baby wet (this was a lot safer than it sounds- well maybe don’t ever try this at home).
I twisted a gutty worm onto the hook of the Barbie fishing pole. My daughter casted and it flew right back towards her and she screamed. It echoed across the majestic lake and sounded like a mountain lion scream. It woke the sleeping baby who then wanted to pull my hair to see what was happening. Once she practiced a few more times, she got it down and was able to catch a cute little bass. I casted for my son several times and he caught a nice size bass but then decided he would rather play the game of ‘let’s go get everything we can find and throw it in the water’.
My neighbor, Sally, called to see if we needed anything next door since we were sick.
I replied sort of sheepishly, “actually we are still sick, but we are fishing. I couldn’t take another second at home and neither could the kids”.
She chuckled and replied, “Well at least if one of you loses it, it will be like chumming the water for fish!”
Ha-ha. I laugh and then think; I wonder if that would work? Just then my son yells, “Mom, I have to pee!” With baby in front pack and daughter picking flowers, we storm to the nearest tree. He decides he can’t remember how to pee outside and so I have to hold him at a certain angle so that his clothes and shoes are not in the cross fire. He sees a spider and decides he can’t go there and so we move to the next tree with awkward success.
My kids want to fish for about an hour. I want to fish for…about all day (I’m sort of addicted, you will see that as I go). I put them in their car seats, with the car parked right next to the dock and windows rolled down, and give them some Gatorade and saltines. I turned up the lullaby music and encouraged them to “relax”.
With my ear tuned to their every need, I bust out my dusty fly rod and make my way to the dock. The sun hit my face just right and the breeze was cleansing and fresh. I threw in a few casts and gathered my thoughts of the end of a hellish week of sickness and the beginning of a most stunning spring. Even though we look like a gang of gypsies with all of the stuff I brought to the fishing trip and my ragged kids were pale and gaunt from Mr. Virus, no one “chummed the water” and I was renewed for a few more days of recovery. Getting out on this adventure also set my mind frame for the summer; if I could take all of my kids to the lake with the stomach flu, then I can pretty much do anything.
Moral of this story: Don’t take your kids to play dates when you have had the stomach flu. And: be creative in your state of quarantine (it even applies to life quarantine from things that are negative or people that are not healthy). Go outside somewhere and do something weird, even if the park ranger is very confused on what is happening!