I was sick with a cold during one of our recent colossal dumpings of snow, so I had a couple of sick/snow days. I was working from home — the news waits for no one — but I couldn't have gone into the office if I had wanted to.

After two days of working through the coughing, nose-blowing, sinus headache, general awfulness, I took an actual sick day: the kind where you just let yourself be sick, rest and drink lots of liquids. I wasn't very good at it, either. Restless, bored, blah.

It was the first sick day I'd taken in quite a while — I say that with a sense of gratitude rather than pride — and it certainly didn't live up to my recollection of childhood sick days. I was lucky enough to have a healthy childhood, back when vaccinations were a matter of course for most children in the developed world. But every now and then, I'd come down with a stomach bug or a really nasty cold, and get — er, I mean have — to stay home from school.

Usually, Mom would install me on the couch in our den with pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. Just getting to be downstairs, where I could hear what Mom was doing and know she was close by, was comforting. And the pampering was nice, too. Sometimes, I actually felt guilty for enjoying it, even though I truly was sick.

If I was sick to my stomach, there would be, first, crushed ice in a washcloth held closed with a rubber band. I could suck on the ice when I was thirsty, and not aggravate my stomach by putting anything into it. Later, when the vomiting had eased, I would get ginger ale, thought to be very good for tender tummies. In any case, it had a placebo effect on me.

For colds, there was orange juice, and plenty of it, along with Cheracol cough syrup — the version I took may or may not have had codeine in it, but it sure tasted good — and Vicks Vap-o-Rub on my chest, covered with one of my dad's clean, white hankies tied around my neck to keep it off my pajamas. I can't even count how many times I heard my mother say, "Feed a cold, starve a fever," which I think means, don't eat when you're sick if you don't feel like it.

You might get to choose more of what you ate when you were sick, but the downside was that you had to go to bed earlier than usual. That was not too bad, though, because you really didn't feel well. When one of us kids was sick enough to stay home from school, the others were a little envious of the attention they got. But, as I remember it, we also liked each other enough to want to make the sick one feel better.

The younger of my brothers, David, had a tendency when he was little to develop a croupy cough when he caught cold. My parents would have to run the shower in the middle of the night and have Dave lean over the tub to breathe the steam. His gasping between coughs sounded desperate, scary. Later, he grew out of it. Now, he's an experienced climber who lives in the Rocky Mountains.

The thing about being sick when we're kids that we don't allow ourselves as adults is just that acceptance of things as they are that allowed me to enjoy the extra attention of being home alone with my mom when I would normally have been at school. I didn't feel good, and I wouldn't have wanted to prolong the not feeling good, even to extend the special treatment, but while it lasted it was nice. I could enjoy sucking on crushed ice through a washcloth, even if my stomach was queasy and my muscles ached.

Sure, I wanted to get well and go out to play. But I don't remember being in a hurry; there was no sense of "I don't have time to be sick." I think that may be a gift of minor illness (being seriously sick is another matter) that I often fail to recognize: the chance to rest, take time, be where I am, let others take care of things for a little while and focus on the present. It is good not to be indispensable, and to know it.

Time for another cup of tea. Be well.