By Laura Grimes
Dear Everyone Who Isn’t Felix/Martha:
My son is a champ.
(For anyone who missed yesterday’s big disclosure, read this first or risk a spoiler.)
After posting yesterday, I had to wait not-so-patiently for Felix/Martha to come home from school to read the special message meant just for him. It was pouring rain, and he was completely soaked.
I told him he should go take a shower and get warm, but he got out his homework. (He’s like that.)
I made him a really nice snack, a fancy bruschetta with pesto tapenade. I know. If you think that’s yadda snobby yadda, then I won’t tell you that I also put out an assortment of olives.
Mr. Scatter made him his signature hot chocolate with that compulsive routine that I haven’t quite mastered but take advantage of every chance I get.
Usually, after Felix/Martha finishes his homework and snack, he disappears to his room, mostly to read or work on his computer, so I was surprised that he wanted to take a bath. He asked if we had anything to put in the water.
He probably knew I had recently received a large shipment of soaps and such from this place, run by an old friend, who makes everything herself. It just so happened, I had a new supply of this. Not to put too fine of an ironic point on it, but so far BOTH Large Smelly Boys have used the special bath salts and I haven’t. They have reputations at stake here.
Over-The-Top Mom even lit candles (plural) in the bathroom. It was dusk.
After forever, when Felix/Martha was done, he went upstairs to his room. I wasn’t going to miss this. I grabbed a book and followed him to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with him. That’s what we call when we snuggle on opposite ends of the bed head to toe, just like the four grandparents in one bed in the book. (Verb: Charlie and the Chocolate Factorying.) We fortify ourselves with extra pillows and fuzzy blankets and read alone or aloud or work on our computers. We used to snuggle on the same end, but the twin bed has mysteriously gotten smaller over the years.
For the first time I can remember, I was happy to see Felix/Martha on his computer instead of reading a book. I grabbed my pillows and blanket and climbed over his legs. I opened my book to pretend to read.
Felix/Martha was relaxed. He casually read the screen. Then his eyes fixed determinedly, and he started to click his mouse quickly. He glanced at me and looked at the screen again. He let go slightly of the grin he was holding in.
“You can read your book,” he told me so I wouldn’t watch him.
I ignored him.
He read intently. I waited. I knew he was playing to me, but I didn’t care. This was a good show. His eyes suddenly stopped then got big. He stared at the screen for a bit and then looked at me. He looked back at the screen and read more until he finished.
“How come I have to get shots?”
I explained what and why. I told him about the big outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in California. I told him he wouldn’t be able to go to school if he didn’t get them.
I expected a smart-aleck retort to that, but he didn’t say anything. It’s possible he wouldn’t dream of not going to school.
We talked about how his brother had a chickenpox vaccine when he was little and then inexplicably came down with the virus the night before a scheduled surgery.
When we were done chatting, I asked Felix/Martha if he had any more questions. He thought for a while and then he shrugged.
“It’s no big deal.”
PHOTO: Medical practitioners from the 1918 flu pandemic. Mrs. Scatter got a flu shot just last week and now she has the flu. What gives?