Sick Dad Problems: A Chicago dad parents through the flu

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who believes you should feed a fever and feed a cold, as well – and mostly feed them cake pops.

The old saying is that Chicago has two seasons: Winter and Construction. It seems like Hockey is a thing now, so that’s three seasons: Winter, Construction and Hockey. But there’s a fourth season that’s just as awful, and that’s Flu Season. It’s October, so all four of those seasons can be happening simultaneously on any given day. Most places that have flu shots haven’t got them in yet, but that hasn’t stopped the flu from showing up, sneezing on your cocktail peanuts, and slipping off to the next house. This week, Flu came to the Rocco home, and it laid out my wife and me in a few hours’ time.

With flu-like symptoms bearing down on us hard, Professor Foster and I, like Jor-El and Lara on an unstable Krypton, knew that we had no choice but to send our daughter away in an escape pod before our world exploded into a cloud of vomiting, fever, and muscle pain. (You’re picturing it, aren’t you?) In this case, the escape pod would be my parents’ car and Smallville would be their home in Coal City. (That part of the metaphor is pretty apt.)

It takes my parents some time to drive to our place in the city, so we knew we had at least an hour and a half with full blown flu to watch our toddler before they arrived to rescue her and allow us to slip into a day-long sleep. (Our first such sleep in, oh, about three years.) So, what to do with a just-turned-3-year-old for 90 minutes when you’re melting like Renee Russo’s innards in “Outbreak”? Here’s your guide to help you the next time you’re struck with a virus but no one has whisked away your child yet:

Fun games to play with your 3-year-old while you have the flu

Who can go the longest without having an accident?

She’s only been potty trained for a few months, you’ve got intense diarrhea. Let’s all be really still and try not to need a change of clothes.

Frozen castle daddy

Elsa’s castle in freezing and so is shivering, feverish Daddy. Re-enact Anna of Arrendelle’s pursuit of the Snow Queen with action figures across Daddy’s clammy torso and he lies in a heap on the floor.

Sweat flume horsey rides

Daddy’s already on all fours, so why not climb on his back and he crawls from the medicine cabinet to the master suite? As an added challenge, he’s soaked his t-shirt with perspiration, so try not to slip off before he crumples at the foot of the bed.

Let’s hallucinate through Caillou

Baby gets a gentle children’s program that teaches patience and manners, Daddy gets to trip through a primary-colored Quebecois hellscape while squeaky-voiced demons mock his pain.

Big girls find the Cheddar Bunnies themselves

Come on, Sweetie, you know where the kitchen is – the bunnies are on the counter, you can get them yourself! Daddy knows you can do it! He believes in you! Go! Go! Come back when you have them – you don’t need Daddy’s help! Seriously, just try. Please try. Oh, God… please just try.

So, there you have it – fun for the whole infected family. You might enjoy it so much you’ll decide to stop washing your hands for the rest of Flu (and Hockey and Winter and Construction) Season! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check on Mommy. I promised her we’d spend some quality alone time lying half-fetal on the bath mat, having a long romantic talk about whether or not we’ll feel better if we just let ourselves throw up.

You can CALL the White Dads now on their hotline:  (347) 766-3866. Leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast! If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe to the WDP podcast for free on iTunes! You can also listen at (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.) And follow the Dads on Facebook and on Twitter: whitedadprobs.

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