Friday, March 30, 2012

Sick kids: Is there an up side?

 A child wilts, with a fever and a cough. I comfort him, and cope in my own way.

Denial:  This will not go through everyone.
Bargaining: If I feed us all oranges, maybe we all won’t get it.
Compromise: They might all get it, but I won’t.
Acceptance: I might as well plan for it, since we are all going to get it eventually.
Resolve: If it’s going to happen, I might as try to find something funny in it.

Last night I spent the night “sleeping” with two fevering boys plastered to my sides, hacking all night long. By morning, the germs in my bedroom formed an actual cloud over the bed. Nothing funny about that.

Yet, this may turn out for good.

My theory: the cloud of germs I have been breathing in all day has given me superpowers. I can see things that you cannot.   Allow me to open your eyes.

Good out of evil: the up side of having a sick kid

  • Get early breaks

If sleep is choppy and the day starts at six, you have every right to feed them lunch at 10 and nap by 1030. If that means they want dinner at 4, you can put them to bed at six.

  • Expand your mind

Long ago, you believed that tissues were the one proper tool for nose-blowing.  You will find yourself at in public (with no tissues) and you will see IT on his nose, lips, and chin, and hanging down to the floor. You will be forced to improvise.

  • Reuse dirty laundry

You will discover: there is a plus side to having kids that leave their dirty clothes lying around.
They make good snot wipes, and you don’t have to waste a tissue.
(What? I was going to have to wash it anyway!)

  • Gain sympathy with good stories

Your sob story will be more effective if it includes explosive bodily fluids.  You will be forgiven for missing any and all events.  You might even receive sympathetic food offerings.

  • Make people feel better about their own trials

Once, we drove to Florida with all the children. In the middle of the night, halfway there, three of the youngest ones got the stomach flu. Picture me, opening the door to get out at a gas station, and having several ziplock bags full of puke fall out at my feet.  (I’d say more, but I have blocked out the rest.)

  • Find new ways to tease your children

After awhile, you will probably give up trying to protect the healthy ones from the germs. Then, you’ll her one whine, “Mommy! He just wiped his boogers on me!”  You can reply, “That’s great, honey! Didn’t you know snot has magical powers? See if you can pick me up now.”

  • Add to your curriculum

You will discover things they need to learn that have not yet made it to your list.
 “If you can’t make it to the bathroom, aim for the wood floor, not the carpet.”
“Try not to get boogers on your book. They make the pages stick together.”
“It’s not polite to hack on someone’s keyboard.”
  • Find out who has your back

As I’m rushing out to take the baby to the doctor, my husband says, “Hun, do you know there’s a big green rag hanging from your pocket?”
“Yep, it’s the snot rag. What?”
Apparently that is weird. I’m glad he told me.

  • Add to your prayer list

“Mommy, can you pray about my boogers?”
Do it, even though it feels silly.
You’ll understand later in the week when a little person prays about YOUR boogers.

  • See them share

The sick kid of the family may be inundated with gifts of love from brothers and sisters. It is not uncommon for me to see a boogery child on the couch with 10 borrowed stuffed animals for company.  You will smile at this, even though you know it might just be a means of germ-sharing.

  • Dig out those old clothes

Finally have an opportunity to wear the super-absorbent shirt you’ve been saving for a special day.

  • Stock up on affection

Sick kids want to receive and give snuggles all day long. Stock up on them, and try not to turn into a porcupine.   If start to feel like you need them all to BACK OFF, you could dressing a giant teddy bear in your t-shirt, spraying it with your perfume, and sitting them on top of it. 

  • Appreciate big kids

When the big kids come home from school, they might have fresh compassion for the whiners. They might even be glad to rock a baby or snuggle with on the couch.   (This is the only reason I have never actually tried the Fake Mama Bear strategy.)

  • Appreciate the talents of others

While it may not be your area of expertise, mama, you will discover that adults who have good couch-sitting skills are in high demand. You may think twice the next time you roll your eyes at him who practices this in the evenings.

  • Try new sleeping arrangements

Experience partial night’s sleep in a child’s bed, on the couch, in a chair, and even (in the case of croup) on the front porch!

  • Give thanks for fresh grace

I have been interrupted no less than forty times in the writing of this post. Their needs trump mine, especially when they are sick, and I often whine about that.  Their pathetic, legitimate needs reveal the selfishness of my own heart, again and again. 

Yet, His grace is new every five minutes. 

Thank God for that.


  1. Emily,

    This was a very clever post! This morning I sat with my coffee, praying for my grandchildren and laughing out loud. Your sense of humor is remarkable during this trying time of illness with the kids. I sure hope that you stay healthy! Hugs to all.

  2. I always figure, the more the germs spread the more chance we have of our defenses building up! That's my attempt at staying positive in the midst of illness. Ugh - God be with you!

  3. I too have resorted to using dirty clothes as snot wipes. My 3 year old is terrible about taking all of the Kleenexes out of the box and then they get hidden and so you never find them when you need them. What ever works!

  4. I too have resorted to using dirty clothes as snot wipes. My 3 year old is terrible about taking all of the Kleenexes out of the box and then they get hidden and so you never find them when you need them. What ever works!

  5. I love, love, love everything about this post. You're hysterical, it's all true, and made me feel way better about being sick with these kiddos. THANK YOU! And thanks for sharing so I could read! :)

    1. You are welcome :) Hope your littles get feeling better soon!


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