Lucy gets scarlet fever
I always thought scarlet fever was something that only appeared in The Velveteen Rabbit and other classic children's tales.
Au contraire. Lucy developed a case after I'd failed to recognize how sick she really was. Not only did I send her to school with strep throat, I also made her go to a swimming lesson. Yikes! I felt so guilty I let her watch unbelievable amounts of her beloved My Pretty Pony movie.
The following is the scene I imagine will take place in her psychotherapist's office, some 25 years in the future.
* * *
Doctor: So tell me about your mother.
Lucy: My mother was a taskmistress of the first degree, always making me pick up my room, brush my teeth and wipe up milk I accidentally spilled on the floor. Though I would put my hand on my chest and tell her, “It’s a hard knock life for me,” she never once let up.
D: Are there any memories in particular that stand out?
LB: Well, there was that one time the Monday after spring vacation. I came downstairs in the morning and my body hurt all over. I said, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow,” with every step I took. All Mom did was tell me I had to eat breakfast, because it’s the most important meal of the day.
D: Go on.
LB: And then I overheard her tell my dad that she thought I had don’t-want-to-go-to-schoolitis. She gave me some medicine, just in case, but made me attend kindergarten.
D: And you were sick? Did she show concern for you later?
LB: When she picked me up at school that afternoon, she kissed my forehead and carried me to the car. But I think she was more concerned about the pen on my hands, cheeks, eyelids and ear. “How did that happen?” she asked. And I said, “I held the pen by the wrong end, then I put my head down on the desk because my neck hurt.”
D: Did your mother make you go to school the next morning?
LB: No. But she made me go to my swimming lesson that afternoon, because she had paid good money for it and it was too late to cancel and get a refund.
D: How did that make you feel?
LB: How did it make me feel? How did it make me feel? Terrible! My swimming teacher told me to be more energetic, and then she took away my goggles because I was fiddling with them. So I cried.
D: And what did your mother say?
LB: She said I could get out of the water.
D: So she showed you some concern.
LB: Yes, I suppose. But by then, the strep throat she’d misdiagnosed as don’t-want-to-go-to-schoolitis had turned into scarlet fever.
D: Scarlet fever? I thought that was a disease that appeared strictly in 19th century children’s books.
LB: Hardly. By the next morning, my whole body was covered in an itchy rash. My cheeks looked like stewed tomatoes. And my mother made me go to the doctor’s even though I said I didn’t want to, and he stuck two giant Q-tips down my throat. It was terrible!
D: I see.
LB: And then she made me drink this medicine that tasted like cow poop!
D: Have you ever tasted cow poop?
LB: That’s exactly what my mother said when I complained about the taste.
D: I see.
LB: And she fed me a spoon full, twice a day! Cow poop!
D: I see.
LB: And she made me do all the schoolwork I had missed, and when I wrote “I like to color on my legs in April,” she made me do it over again because it wasn’t legible.
D: Did you like to color on your legs?
LB: Yes. Is that a problem? I also liked to color on my bare buns, if you must know.
D: (Scribbling furiously) I see.
LB: And then Alice got strep throat and she had to take the medicine too, and when I informed her it tasted like cow poop, my mother gave me a time-out. I had scarlet fever, and my mother made me sit on the steps and think about what I’d done. Did she have to think about what she'd done to me? Did anyone ever give her a time out? No! She got to be with us 24 glorious hours a day, sometimes even when she was trying to go to the bathroom.
D: I can see that you resent your mother for never taking time outs herself. Selfish woman. Speaking of time, our session today is up. To whom should I send the bill?
LB: The bill? Isn’t that obvious? To my mother!