The Germ Slayer.

My 15-year-old daughter has mono. I of course assumed she kept falling asleep because that’s what teenagers do.

All that texting can be exhausting.

Kidding! I really just figured she was run down. Since my own epitaph will probably read “She Just Wanted Some Sleep,” the fact that my daughter suddenly seemed interested in napping again after 12 years struck me simply as a sign of improbable, but laudable good judgment. 

Then it occurred to me that she was extremely pale.

Next, she asked me to feel the side of her neck, where she thought she might have been bitten by something. Even I know a swollen gland when I feel one. My thoughts raced: “Don’t be mono don’t be mono don’t be mono.”

It was mono.

This diagnosis provoked a flurry of responses in our household.

My daughter promptly fell back asleep.

I promptly began emailing her teachers.

My son, who heard that his sister might miss a couple of weeks of school, was overcome with a degree of jealousy only an Othello could achieve.

“Breathe on me,” he begged his sleeping sister.

When she didn’t respond, he cuddled up next to her on the couch.

Never underestimate a sick teenager’s ability to muster the energy to keep her siblings in line. She managed to boot him several feet.

And then she went back to sleep.

Her sister, who had heard that our much-anticipated spring break trip could be, ah, somewhat less enjoyable for the invalid, refused to enter any room where there might be germs. She is not without empathy, so she shouted, “Hope ya feel better,” from the threshold of the room in which her sister lay.

She then went on a search for latex gloves and retired to a corner of the kitchen, spraying Clorox as she went.

My husband, like many husbands in the face of illness, succumbed to a manly panic. He became convinced that he, too, must have mono.

“I’ve been feeling kind of sick,” he announced. 

Our younger daughter absentmindedly squirted Clorox at him and went back to researching how to build your own ‘boy in a bubble’ contraption on the Internet.

“Don’t, even,” I said to him.

“No, seriously,” he said. “I’m really tired.”

“Who isn’t tired?” I hissed while our daughter began methodically wrapping herself in clear plastic.

In the end, we all calmed down.

My son realized what mono could do to his baseball season and stopped treating his sister like a germ ticket to freedom.

My younger daughter gave up on sewing a homemade Hazmat suit and contented herself with decorating our family room with “Biohazard” signs.

My husband stopped loudly announcing “I might be dying,” and stuck to surreptitiously prodding his neck glands, out of striking distance of his wife.

We all have spent a lot of time watching the Sick One, as we started to call her, sleep, stretched out on the couch like a pajama-clad Lady of Shalott. And we have hoped, every minute of every hour, that she would soon feel better.