Volume 16 • Issue 29 | December 16 - 22, 2003

It’s time for Mom when the fever goes up

By Jane Flanagan

I’m feeling guilty. My son, Rusty, 5, was sick last week with a virus and it afforded me some of my best mom moments.

Okay, I hated seeing him sick — fever, chills, aches and pains. I also had my usual Mom panic moments — his temperature is 102! But his illness also brought forth a new phenomenon, one I couldn’t get enough of: a boy who needed his Mom.

Rusty is a full throttle guy. His need for his Dad has always been crystal clear to me. The two have so many similar interests — planes, sports, the Marx Brothers you name it — that Rusty wants to spend every waking minute with him.

When I come in the door at the end of the day his first question to me is “Where’s Dad?” To which I respond, “What am I, chopped liver?”

Rusty also doesn’t like me to do what I do best — worry about him. When he has a minor ailment — a cold or a boo boo — and I ask how he’s feeling, he gets mad.

“Don’t ask me that,” he’ll say with a growl.

But this week things were different.

He was feeling bad.

One morning during the siege he lay on a sofa chair watching TV. I was reading an article in the paper about a bear hunt in New Jersey. It quoted a hunter who said that since there hadn’t been a bear hunt in New Jersey since 1970, it would be fairly easy to shoot them. The bears didn’t know to be afraid. I grumbled aloud.

“What’s the matter, Mom?” said Rusty.

“Oh, nothing.”


“They are hunting bears in New Jersey.”

He thought for a minute.

“They are killing bears?” he said.


Another moment passed and then he started crying.

I was dumbfounded. I’d never seen him react this way to a news story.

“Are they going to kill all the bears?”

“No, no. Not all the bears.”

“I don’t want them to kill any bears,” he said sobbing.

I went over and gave him a hug. I explained why they were doing it — about the potential threat to humans, etc. The hug and the explanation made him feel better. (Although I still can’t figure out how New Jersey managed to go from nearly extinct bears in 1970 to having to kill them off now.)

I also discovered that he only let the tears flow with me.

On the Saturday afternoon that he was in the throes of the fever, Bob and he were watching a basketball game, sitting side by side in sofa chairs.

At one point Rusty’s aches evidently got to him because he got up to look for me. Finding me at the computer he climbed into my lap and started to sob. “My leg hurts,” he said. My husband came trailing in behind.

“We were sitting there watching the game and he was doing just fine,” said Bob puzzled.

“I know,” I said. “I’m his Mom.” Rusty climbed into my lap several more times that day, each time comforted by my hugs and kisses. I felt like Wonder Woman.

And even though my husband is the softest touch when it comes to his son, Rusty clearly wasn’t comfortable letting his Dad see his vulnerable side, not even a little. When they were making plans to watch a movie, Rusty, craving some extra cuddling from Dad, pulled me aside.

“Ask Dad to sit next to me,” he whispered.

Rusty is feeling much better, and so am I. I may be chopped liver, but it’s okay. I’m Mom.



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