The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 25, 2013

LEVINE: Changing routine

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — Routines are a major part of our day.

From brushing our teeth at the same time to having that moment of peace at the end of the day, we are creatures of habit.

But what happens when normalcy exits out the front door for a few days?

I unfortunately have that answer after this week, and it’s not pretty.

The flu bug hit my house during this past week. I was spared (it must have something to do with my clean living of eating horrible foods and sitting in my recliner), but the other two inhabitants of the house were hit hard with the sickness.

It started when my daughter woke up Saturday morning at about 4 a.m. with a high fever. My wife and I were supposed to have an evening out, which, if you’re a parent, you know how coveted those become, but the flu didn’t go away, and we stayed home.

We didn’t mind. We chalked it up to one of those responsibilities that all adults have when they sign up for the parenting gig. And we hadn’t really had a free weekend to stay at home in awhile, so it was a nice break...until my wife fell ill.

This is really where the story turns into a nightmare.

Since kids are resilient, it didn’t take long for my daughter to bounce back after her brief bout with the flu. My wife, on the other hand, took a little longer to get on the mend, which has created a little tension between my 2-year-old daughter and me.

The first day of my wife being sick didn’t go so bad. My daughter understood why I was taking over the daily routines, like bathing, nighttime and cooking.

It was so easy that when my wife woke up the next day pretty much unable to move, I didn’t mind that I would keep my duties from the previous day, since my daughter was so accommodating.

However, I was in for a rude awakening when I picked her up from daycare.

She couldn’t understand why my wife was still laying on the couch, just as she had left her the night before. I was wondering the same thing when I realized that my day wasn’t going as well as the previous one.

Unfortunately we couldn’t find a magic potion to resurrect my wife from the flu, so my daughter and I proceeded to butt heads about how I was doing all of Mom’s regular duties “wrong.”

I didn’t know there was a wrong way to give a bath, but sure enough I found out the hard way and had to call in back-up, which happened to be the patient residing on my couch.

And since the flu just won’t seem to go away, our routines have not gotten back on track yet, which seems to be affecting me more than my daughter now.

My daughter isn’t a big fan of adjustment, much like other children, but she is having an easier time dealing with this than me. It takes a different approach to trying to help her adjust, but so far this week, I’m having a hard time.

We are very alike in the way we deal with routines being changed at home. When I’m at work or out of the house, I don’t mind adapting to change. But if a wrench gets thrown in our nightly ritual of rocking, reading and then lying down, get ready for a battle.

By the end of the earth-shattering change, we usually run to Mom to tell our side of the story.

My wife says I’m stooping to the level of a 2-year-old. I would like to say otherwise, but our arguments usually end up with a lot of pointing and crying, something that I’m sure plenty of adults partake in from time to time.

However, by the end of the night, we usually say our truce and all’s well until our routines are damaged again the next day. No matter what, though, we’re on the same page when it comes to one thing — we’re ready for my wife to get back into action and keep the flu away for another year.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald.