The cable box told him three hours had passed. Three hours of crying and coughing fits and that whimpering call of “daddeeeee.”
“It’s okay, sweety. You’re okay.”
“I gotta go potty,” she squeaked out between sobs.
“Angie you just went potty five minutes ago, remember?”
She repeated herself, louder.
“Okay, let’s go.” He lifted her from the toddler bed and carried her to the bathroom, started pulling down her pajama bottoms and diaper.
“No!” She shrieked. “I do it!”
“Okay, okay, you do it.” He pulled the diaper back up into place so that his two year old daughter could pull it down herself.
As Angela sat on the toilet, half asleep, coughing on and off, Vince sat across from her on the edge of the tub, ready to jump if she were to lose her balance. A few weeks ago she fell off the can and hit her head on the wall and he nearly had a heart attack.
After she finished peeing and wiping and standing on a stool to wash her hands, he carried her back to bed and sat at her side. She curled up in a ball, hacking and whining and saying “Stop” whenever he tried to hand her a glass of water. Eventually Vince just stared, loving her and hating himself all at once. He hated himself for the relief he felt every morning when he finally got her to daycare, for the tasks he wished would’ve by now become more routine: packing her lunch, washing her clothes, doing the dishes every night after she went to bed. But most of all, at this moment, he hated himself because he'd had the bug earlier that week and she'd gotten it from him. He felt like crying along with her as she wailed her way to sleep.
It occurred to him that his current self-hatred was creeping toward self-pity, a state of mind he promised himself he'd avoid. He laughed at the ridiculousness of his emotions and stood to leave her room and tried to look on the bright side. At least the sickness hit Angela on the weekend, so he wouldn’t have to call out of work. At least, since he'd already had the virus, he knew what to expect. The pediatrician's office told him they’d received the same phone call from countless other parents – something nasty was going around. Maybe she would’ve gotten it at daycare anyway. Heck, every germ on the planet found its way into the daycare sooner or later.
Angela coughed some more as he leaned against her doorway. He looked at her and thought that they’d get through this, one day at a time.