Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Small Town

Yesterday my son was home from school. He was not sick. In fact, he was the picture of perfect health and didn't stop moving or talking the entire day. Why was he home? Because he had the poor timing to throw up at a birthday party the day before. At 4:30pm. That was attended by every child in his class. And many of their parents. I was a victim of public-sickdom.

I am not sure how it is done in your big city schools, but in our little town word travels fast, and when a child publicly vomits, twice, your reputation as a parent is on the line. Sure, you could send him in the next morning since he never had a fever and after the initial *incident* immediately resumed normal activity, including eating his body weight in dinner. But our town is too small to risk it. My children would be getting their diplomas and I would still be whispered about as *that mom who sent her son to school with the stomach flu and all our children got it because of her*. I am not a strong enough person to stand up to that.

Don't get me wrong. I love our small town. At only 2 miles square it is a mini-Mayberry that also has the advantage of being 10 miles outside of DC. One minute you are in Mayberry, the next minute you are at the White House. It's a win-win. In Mayberry you are always running into people you know. You go to the Starbucks and see familiar faces. Same with the grocery store, the pharmacy, the library, the community center, one of the 10 places for pizza or at the 7-11 when you are buying slurpees after a soccer game. It's great to have such a close-knit community that is so warm and friendly. It's one of the main reasons we moved here.

Except when you are looking for a little anonymity. Sometimes you just want to go to the Rite Aid, get your Nyquil and come home. Especially when you have a terrible cold and haven't managed to shower for two days and used your only available energy to steer the car to the store. You are about to pay for your cold medicine and retreat back to the safety of your bed, but then you see her. The room parent for your child's class. Smiling. Friendly. Wanting to chat you up and thank you for all the help you have provided the class this year. Politely overlooking your haggard appearance and smell. And you have to stop and talk and smile and nod, all the while feeling like you are talking from inside a bubble. Because this is Mayberry. And everyone is friendly.

Or then there are the times you have exactly 10 minutes to get in and out of the grocery store with 10 critical items that your family needs or there will be a mutiny. And if you don't get out in ten minutes then you will be late to pick up your daughter from parasailing lessons. Again. So you go into the store and *of course* you run into three people you know, two of which you haven't seen in months and want to catch up and talk about your great new hair cut, and one who recently had a baby so not to stop and chat would be rude. And so instead of getting the ten critical things you get two and are still late to get your daughter.

And then there is the gym. When I am running on the treadmill it is a spectacle to say the least. Not only am I bright red and dripping sweat, I am out of breath and physically *can't* chat. I probably need to find a gym two towns over, where I don't know anyone. Or maybe wear a disguise.

But these are small prices to pay for living in such a wonderful community where we literally have a *town hall* and it located next to the *community center*. A town where your children are one day crawling around in the sand box with a bunch of other toddlers at the playground and before you know it are getting ready for prom with those same girls and boys. And you know the parents who will be driving.

So no, you can't get away with anything around here, including sending your child to school if he is seen vomiting less than 12 hours earlier. But I am okay with that because I know the parents who helped me find his coat and get him to the car so I could take him home and the woman at the front desk who knows us from the cooking camp my kids took last summer who held the door for us and the moms who were coming in to pick up their children from basketball practice as we were going out who told him to *feel better soon*.

1 comment:

  1. This is good stuff, S. Making me feel a little bit self-conscious about the quality of my writing now. Thanks a lot.