Thursday, February 17, 2011
Cold Season Mothering
Health Alert: If you have had a winter void of snot, juicy coughs, runny eyes, fevers, etc. etc. etc., please do not make the following statement out loud, "We've been really healthy this winter. Maybe it's all the vitamins we're taking, but we just don't seem to catch any of the crud going around."
Upon making this statement, germ central will sound the Code Green alert and send a platoon of militant, disease laden germs your way.
Case in point: We just spent a lovely ski weekend at a condo with two other couples and eight children. Many of the children were hacking like life-long smokers. My friend said, "Our kids have those rotten colds that are going around. Take this vitamin and hopefully you won't get it too."
I confidently declined the vitamin while smugly saying, "We've been really healthy this winter. Maybe it's all the vitamins we're taking, but we just don't seem to catch any of the crud going around."
Payback's a bitch.
I had a LASIK follow-up appointment yesterday. So I went, with two of my hacking, dazed-looking children in tow. When I first walked in, a few of the waiting seniors gave me the "what precious, well-behaved children you have" look. And they really were...precious AND behaved! Of course, this strange behavior could be attributed to the fact that the ibuprofen had worn off causing their fevers to spike, which in turn made their painful ear infections painful again. They were just quietly miserable.
I took them to the chairs farthest from anything breathing. They sat down and began to play quietly. For a blissful moment, I appeared to be a mother in complete control of her children. I could just imagine what the sweet, white-haired grandma who admired us from afar was thinking. She was probably wondering why her daughter, Jan, wasn't more like me. Jan always allowed her young ones to run around screaming and throwing disgraceful public tantrums.
At that moment, it felt really good to be compared to Jan. But, as all seemingly perfect mom moments must end, mine soon did.
In unison, both children started coughing. A loud, wet, endless cough. You could actually hear the contagious droplets being expelled with each juicy hack. And not just once. It was like the Hallelujah Chorus of coughs. They started out coughing beautifully together. Soon it became a coughing harmony. If I hadn't been so horrified, I might have been impressed with how wonderfully they complemented one other.
I tried the "dutiful mother determined to mentor her children on public health issues" tract. "Children," I said calmly and in one of those really high, daycare provider voices. "If you have to cough, please use your sneeze catchers." And then I demonstrated by delicately "ah, ahing" into the crook of my arm.
The children looked up at me, eyes streaming, noses red and running, the snot collecting in the dimples on their chins. They looked around them, apparently realizing for the first time that they were in a waiting room filled with people. Then, as if their moves had been choreographed, they stood up, faced the room of sweet-faced vision-deficient people and (very loudly),
coughed and spewed,
coughed and spewed,
coughed and spewed.
I could hear quiet gasps of horror from those sitting closest. The squeak of chairs rang loudly as they were frantically relocated from ground zero.
Immediately, Jan's judgmental mother shot me the "why aren't you at home with your sick and disgusting kids instead of out in public infecting poor, innocent, healthy souls" look. Sweet grandmas can say a lot with just one look.
Fortunately, at that moment I hear, "Melissa, we're ready for you." I grab my two coughing and spewing kids and shuffle quickly to the exam room.
The moral of this story:
If your kids are sick and you need to go out in public where people will judge you, tell everyone you're the nanny.