Originally posted May 19, 2009
(Author's note: This originally was published by
The Kane County Chronicle May 1, 2009, and was posted
here later that day, but 'fell off.' I'm reposting it, but
don't worry: it's 'old news.')
Never before have I felt compelled to buy one of those darned
I guess the Anthrax scare and Avian Flu never quite got my
dander up, but then I heard about the run on masks happening in
drugstores all over New York City in response to the Swine Flu
outbreak. So I made a quick trip to the store. I needed
dishwasher detergent anyhow, I reasoned.
Labeled "N95 grade" and NIOSH Approved," the masks looked
official enough. I debated for a few moments and then grabbed
a few. Slightly embarrassed, I quickly headed to the
register. I had no plans to actually wear one, but I wanted
to have them for my kids, just in case.
Near the check-out counter I spotted cheaper masks, though, and
decided to chill-out and buy them instead. Precautions are
one thing, but hey, this is a recession after all, I decided.
I handed my rejects to the nice cashier, who smiled and asked if
I'd like to buy one of the huge, fudgy, nut brownies conveniently
displayed next to the register.
"Uh, no thanks," I mumbled, as I giggled and considered how one
might eat a nut brownie while wearing a face mask.
I had a nagging concern about the "N95 grade" mask thing,
though, so once I got home I Googled it. Turns out that it's
the 'right' mask to buy after all, if given a choice. Feeling
a bit sheepish, I ran back to the store, by then figuring that mine
were already sold. Sure enough, the shelf where masks are
displayed was completely empty. On my way out I asked the
nice cashier if she happened to still have the ones I'd given her
earlier. She did, under the counter. But no, I still
didn't want a brownie.
The next morning, however, I awoke to disturbing news about the
closing of the Rogers Park elementary school because of a probable
case of Swine Flu, so my kids and I stopped at the store to grab
hand-sanitizer on our way to ours. By now the brownie-pusher
and I were old friends. She pointed out the latest craze -
spray-on hand sanitizer - which she promised wouldn't leak into my
kids' backpacks or desks at school. Hook me up, I said.
But keep your brownie. She grinned.
Out in the car I realized that I'd need two more of the cool
spritzy sprays for my husband and me, so I pulled up to the door
and had my fifth-grader run in and ask the brownie-pusher for two
more. She waved as Noah climbed back into the car brandishing
the receipt. She'd written something at the top:
"Brownie?" I had to laugh. That one doesn't give up
I packed the kids off to school armed with their handy-dandy
sanitizers, feeling pretty good about myself. You know that
"I am Mommy, hear me roar" feeling you get sometimes? My kids
Later that day I got the news that our middle school (Rotolo
Middle school in Batavia) is closed until at least Monday, as is
Marmion Academy in Aurora, where Noah takes swim lessons on
Sundays. The news was getting worse by the minute. That
does it, I decided. I'm not ready to break out the masks yet,
but as a precaution I'm keeping my children home until Monday,
too. (It's not like they'll miss taking the bar exam or
something, right?) I don't want to panic, but what's a parent
Noah's already given me a few high-fives for being his
over-protective Mom (at least this time) and even proclaimed today
a 'good day' once he realized that he'd miss a social studies test,
but Holly, my second-grader, needed a bit of reassurance.
She loves school. She already misses her friends so I
promised we'd have a fantabulous time camping-out at home.
We're keeping it light and hunkering-down for a few days.
We'll make an adventure out of playing hooky, skipping soccer
practice, watching movies and playing board games. We'll
sleep late, pop popcorn for breakfast and play 'go-fish,' then
we'll dance to loud music and watch the dog stalk the cat and stare
at the rain. Again. We'll grow weary of "go-fish," get
cabin fever, bicker and …
So, um, yeah, that brownie is beginning to sound better
by the minute.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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