Da pox is in da house

Entertainer Madonna at Movie Premier with Bucket of Popcorn

(Image from Madonna Scrapbook)

 

Dear son,

Well, at four and a half years old, a year and a half into preschool, plus 2.5 years of garderie before that, you have finally caught the chicken pox. I’m amazed you didn’t catch it sooner. Every week there seems to be a sign outside school or the garderie indicating cases of “varicelle”. For a while there I was wondering if you had gotten it and it was so mild that we had just missed it. But, uh, nope, there’s no mistaking chicken pox. We are on day two and you are covered in spots.

It’s funny, son, but of all the things for me to feel nostalgic about, you getting the pox is the clincher. Yesterday I felt sad, because I wanted to call Momie and tell her you had the chicken pox, and reminisce about when I had them, 25+ years ago, and maybe have her tell me stuff I had forgotten. It’s funny but it feels like a rite of passage, and I wanted to call everyone up and tell them.

I have a fun memory of having the chicken pox. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was MISERABLE. MISERABLE. I was so itchy and uncomfortable for weeks, I had pocks in my ears, inside my cheeks. But that’s not the fun memory.

I was 11 years old when I got it, which now seems kind of old, although at the time it was circling around my school mates and I knew it was a matter of time before I got it. (I’m told that they’ve been doing the vaccine in the US since 1995, so kids really just don’t get it like in the old days.). Anyway, I was in the fifth grade and out of school for at least a week, if not a bit more.

I remember about a week into my spots, I picked up a flyer somewhere that announced that Madonna was going to be in Century City for the premiere of her new movie, Desperately Seeking Susan. I convinced my dad to take me. I may have been itchy and miserable and covered in red dots, but there was NO WAY  I WAS GOING TO MISS SEEING MADONNA AND HER FINGERLESS FISHNET GLOVES.

This was the spring of 1985. The height of Madonna mania. Yep, I’m that old kids.

We arrived early in the afternoon and stood around and waited for what I remember seemed like hours. The crowd grew bigger and bigger. When The Lady finally arrived, I remember there was a huge, scary swoosh that took my breath away. My little 11 year old self got very squished by the crowd of teenage and twentysomething girls and gay men yelling “MADONNA! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU MADONNA!” I panicked and my dad pulled me out of the crowd, and put me on his shoulders so I could see her in her white dress rolling down the red carpet.

We decided not to see the movie just then, the crowd was too overwhelming. Instead, my dad took me to see Return of the Jedi for the, um, sixth time. I itched through the whole thing.

It’s a nice memory.

It’s funny but the chicken pox is such a rite of passage, that I almost feel sad that, at age four, you probably won’t have any memory of having it, and your sister who is two and who I imagine will be getting it in a few weeks as well, will certainly not remember. It’s weird to feel this way about a disease that was probably considered extremely dangerous a couple hundred years ago, but I guess it’s just due to the fact that it’s pretty mild now. They say it’s easier to have it when you are young; I suppose the next few weeks will tell us whether that’s true or not.

The vaccine is available here in France, but it’s not in the routine childhood vaccine schedule and you have to specially request it. I thought long and hard about whether to get you guys vaccinated. I decided that as long as I was on parent leave, I wouldn’t, but I would consider it if when I went back to work you still hadn’t gotten it. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do, but I guess time will tell with that too.

Meanwhile, we are all about oatmeal baths and gels around here right now.

 

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