I sang along with the radio, "Cruel to be kind, in the right measure, cruel to be kind, it's a very good sign...," my hair blowing wildly in the air flowing into the open car window, as I drove home from a day of shopping, alone, for myself.
Cruelly, shortly after carrying this tune in a joyous bout of rejuvenation that only new shoes can induce in a woman, a stomach virus whipped and purged me until I lay on the bathroom floor like a hot noodle stuck to a cold bowl. Kindly, I didn't need the exorcist until I put down my precious packages.
Cruelly, moments prior to grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and making me growl at the goldfish tomb, my ailment induced a feeling of starvation, causing me to eat three bowls of homemade soup, scarf two pieces of cheese toast, and drink a tall glass of orange juice. Kindly, I didn't experience the dry heaves.
Cruelly, my mother suggested that a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup, the very soup I regurgitated while calling Nemo, would cure my ills. Kindly, the fever suppressed my hunger.
Cruelly, I sat plastered to the sofa hearing loud bangs and shouts generated by four children at large and largely unsupervised, who saw my malaise as an opening to cook up mischief they only thought possible for characters on Cartoon Network. Kindly, the oldest child figured out how to use the microwave and warm Twinkies for hot lunches.
Cruelly, I smelled the aroma of burning popcorn and voices shouting, "Put it out! Put it out!" Kindly, I felt too weak to investigate the severity of the culinary devastation in my kitchen and convinced myself they referred to the cat.
Cruelly, my offspring strew cookie crumbs, chips, Coke cans, socks, shoes and pets throughout forbidden zones of the house. Kindly, the youngest boy fell victim to the dreaded virus... and then there were only three.
Cruelly, not only did I have to sprint to the bathroom, but I also had to drag a heavy, heaving 6-year-old child with me. Kindly, he lay down in front of the television where I could make him reach up and change the channels at my whim.
Cruelly, after emptying his gut of ice cream, beef jerky, petrified Halloween candy and root beer, and hearing the parent-free party grinding on without him, he rapidly recovered, but I, lamentably, did not. Kindly, he could fend for himself once more.
Cruelly, two days later, to his surprise, my distress, and his sibling's disgust, said child began spewing vile juice again. Kindly, his car seat caught it like a bucket.
Cruelly, the children not yet exhibiting symptoms of the dread illness had to ride home next to the barf brother, crinkling their noses as if the germs would have a harder time moving in. Kindly, we no longer had to anxiously await their moment of truth.
Cruelly, they wore paths, through my bedroom, to my bathroom, retching there well into the wee hours of the morning. Kindly, it didn't interfere with their convalescing activity, the following day, of nonstop video gaming.
Cruelly, putrid towels, sheets, washcloths, pajama tops and pillows lay piled in my laundry room, smelling like goat cheese. Kindly, all things, good and bad, eventually sort themselves out in the wash.
"Cruel to be kind, means that I love you, Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind..."
(Lucy Adams is a Columbia County native and a McDuffie County resident.)
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