Amor told me a few times how whenever they got sick as kids, their grandfather would look at them laying miserably on the couch and say “Sick child brand”. That seems to have stuck in my head. At 3 this morning when Oona was all snorty and stuffy all I could think in my grogginess was “sick child brand”. Neve has likewise been feeling unwell, and I can feel the beginnings of a head cold. Sick family brand?
It’s funny what things stick with you after someone is gone. My kids are the second generation to be frustrated by being told “You’re doing a good job”. Paul’s grandfather used to tell them that whenever they were mad about doing chores, or feeling particularly ornery about an assignment. Amor laughs about it now, but I can picture all of them as kids feeling exasperated by it, as my kids are now. Neve screams when she can’t properly dress her Barbie and Emily whines about cleaning her room and all Paul will say is “You’re doing a good job.” They roll their eyes, but I wonder if it will stick with them the same way it has stuck with their father and aunts and uncles.
My grandfather was always after us to wash our hands. My brother was terrified of him as a child – he wasn’t a big man but he had a large, if somewhat quiet, presence that seemed to command respect without saying a word. Every evening at dinner grandpa would say to my brother “You wash your hands, boy?” It’s a family joke now, and I’m sure if I ever had a son my brother would pester him with it. It was good advice. Maybe if my kids would be more diligent in heeding it I wouldn’t be calling them “sick child brand” today.