It’s Supposed to Be No Fun. You’re Sick.


It’s another crisp, brilliant fall day. Coffee in hand, I head downstairs to the studio, crack my knuckles, and prepare myself for another day of making things up.

The phone rings.

“Dad,” says a voice that sounds like Louis Armstrong with a sinus infection. “I don’t feel good.”

Just like that, the day has changed. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it seems like once per week I’m driving down to the school to bring a sick kid home. Being the parent who works at home makes me the default caregiver. I don’t mind nursing sick kids, but sometimes it’s difficult to move things around to make space for the added responsibility. Like if it’s Shark Week.

But it’s not just a matter of bringing the sickie home to recuperate; I also have to remove them as quickly as possible from the general population. We wouldn’t want to be responsible for spreading any kind of virus or bacterial infection or anything that might get me sued.

So I’ll keep the kid home, in bed, with an iPod or book. NO computer, no playstation, no movies in the living room, snuggled up on the couch with a bowl of hot popcorn and a fuzzy blanket. For one thing, that’s what I’d be doing if I hadn’t got the whiney emergency call this morning. No, when you’re sick it’s tough love, kiddo. Your bedroom becomes the virus incubator, the quarantined infirmary. I will prepare and deliver to your bedside all the mashed potatoes, buttery grits, popsicles, jello and pudding you think you can eat. But no pizza. No tacos. No McDonald’s anything. No chips and salsa. You’re sick. You’re infirm, hence the infirmary diet.


Honest, Dad, I can’t go to school today. I’m sick as a dog.

First, I confirm the veracity of the illness. All school assignments must be checked and cross checked against the severity of the symptoms of the stricken. A sudden case of laryngitis on the morning of an important oral presentation is probably no coincidence. Here’ s a Cepacol, kid. Suck it down so you can suck it up. Welcome to the Big Time. The show must go on, especially when a B hangs in the balance of your last government test before the semester ends and you seniors go home for Christmas break and ingest enough Mountain Dew to shrink your brains all the way back to a junior high school level of intellect in a mere 18 days. On that note, can someone tell me why we’re not using this kind of chemical warfare to win the war in Afghanistan instead of destroying our own population from the teeth out? Shee-it.

Call me a hard ass, but when kids are home sick they shouldn’t get to treat it as a vacation day. Or one of those random days they close the schools so teachers can train or shop go bowling or feel each other up in the janitor’s closet. My goal is absolute inactivity. First thing I do is dress my sick kid in some clean inactivewear, and make her comfortable in her bed. It’s okay to watch a movie on her laptop, but when I bring a mug of hot soup back to her room and she’s Facebooking, texting, taking selfies and Snapchatting with her friends who are in school, well, I pronounce her healed and deliver her back to class. Of course the kids hate this, and feel that they should be able to set up shop in the living room, kicked back in the recliner and smearing their grubby germs all over the remote while they commandeer the family TV.

The only thing to do is to quarantine them in their room and cut the power to that quadrant of the house. That’s right, it’s going to the all Civil War Florence Nightingale tent up in your room, girl. You will lie in bed with a book (preferably one you’re reading for an assignment) and a flashlight. Or you will sleep. You will not open up Garageband and make some sick beats. You will not be all about that bass. You will not play video games, and you will not spend your day cruising reddit. You will lie low. You will keep it calm. You will allow me to improve your nutrition and metabolism enough to let the powerful healing properties of your teenage self-healing system take over and do that voodoo that you do, so well. You will drink water, not Mountain Dew Awesome Red Crack Mist. You will eat homemade soup and bread, not Hot Pockets and Red Bull. Your body will be reintroduced to the healthful diet that gives your system the tools and gumption to fight off these pesky, omnipresent viruses and bacterial infections that flutter through the high school like so many perky cheerleader posters that festoon the hallways. The posters will be eventually torn down. The viruses and bugs, well, they’ll be hitching a ride on you while you’re busy eating a half a burrito from the bottom of your locker and sharing a Cherry Coke with some skanky dude with a pumping cold sore.

I am your last line of defense. I’m Nurse Dad. I might not be able to entirely prevent you from getting sick, but by all the mother of holy power and energy has invested in me, we will keep you from dying. You might miss the senior prom with lupus, but by god, you’ll be marching proudly up that ramp to collect your high school diploma while your mom and dad cheer wildly, sucking on zinc lozenges and completely coated with Purell. Way to go. Stay well!

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


MIM NewsletterLike this blog? Don’t miss another one. Sign up for our E-Newsletter.  It provides you with a list of all the week’s stories/blogs and is delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.