I’m not down with this sickness.

So I’ve got this cough. Gorgonna, darling daughter that she is, gave it to me. And since my Priority Number One as a parent is to act stoked for whatever she does, I accepted the accursed common cold with feigned glee.

But not once has my cough sounded like “ooh ah-ah-ah-ah.”

Unexpected, I know. In fact, there are other unexpected things about being sick with a child you should know about. So let’s get a little disturbed, let David Draiman and Co. into our lives for a hot minute, and get down. Wayyyy down.

The sickness is rising

“I can see inside you / The sickness is rising / Don’t try to deny what you feel.”

You’ll see The Sickness coming, and you’ll think you’re safe. But you aren’t. Oh, no. The vitamins you’ve crammed and extra orange juice you’ve slugged to stave off its arrival will be in vain, for The Sickness will be knocking on your door soon enough. It just has to make a couple stops first.

The Sickness will weave, serpentine, through your family, striking the immune systems of the strong and weak alike. Your rambunctious child will suffer the most; she’ll Jekyll and Hyde her way through the day, alternating between states of feeling fine and feeling absolutely lousy. A post-lunch play session will end with mucus oozing from her nostrils — the telltale sign that things aren’t all right.

At least it hasn’t hit you yet, eh? Now that you mention it, you’ve had this tickle in your throat for a few days already. And as the week goes on, you start to feel The Sickness fully manifest itself.

Get up, c’mon, get down

Once The Sickness has infected you, your path is set. You’re in for a world of hurt.

“It seems that all that was good has died / And is decaying in me.”

You’re sick. You have to admit it now, because you can’t keep your usual pace. As your strength is sapped by the day, wistful memories will surface of when you were well and capable of moving. Running, laughing, playing — even staying awake will seem like the distant actions of another person. You can’t even remember what feeling good felt like, let alone see an end in sight. The Sickness is all-consuming, and it’s crippling you from the inside.

“It seems you’re having some trouble / In dealing with these changes / Living with these changes / Oh no.”

Once you start to feel better, you’ll feel like you can take on the world. You’ll start to want doing things again.

Don’t. Resist the urge to embrace life again, else you could suffer a relapse. Suffer for a while longer, maybe spin some misanthropic black metal — whatever gets you in the mood to close the blinds and stay indoors for a while longer.

Madness has now come over me

“You fucker / get up, come on get down with the sickness.”

Aside from the fact that I equally ironically/unironically love that song, “Down with the Sickness” serves as a decent roadmap for being sick with a child. The angst and frustration in the lyrics (not counting the incredibly stupid “skit” that always gets cut for the radio edit) are surely echoed by every parent who has ever felt the obligation of child-rearing yet feel so damn weak. It’s enough to drive one mad.

A side-by-side comparison of Disturbed's The Sickness album cover with my daughter, Gorgonna, heavily filtered.
Who wore it best?

But as I type this, the worst of The Sickness has passed; only an infrequent phlegmy cough remains. Like all things rough about parenting, these times will pass, until they rear their ugly, ugly heads again. (Kind of like Disturbed’s first album cover.)

Because come again, it will. The Sickness moves in a remorseless cycle, and you’ll inevitably feel its sting again. Will you be ready? Can you ever be ready?

I don’t know if I can. But the most we can ever do is just deal with it.

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