I don't do sickness very well. It's the one area of motherhood that makes me feel stressed and anxious and like I'm not at all remotely qualified to handle anything that transpires. Ethan will sneeze and I'll fall to pieces on the floor sobbing and surrendering to an inevitable pediatrician visit the next day while my concerned husband gives me the side-eye and asks why I can't just wait to see what happens in the morning. And, sadly, that's likely an accurate scenario.
Many parents like to spew some garbage about "just the sniffles" or "just a cold." Sometimes they wipe their kids snot with the bottom of their shirt and say "maybe it's allergies" when we all know that this sudden onset of first-time allergies is totally a cold. Or a virus. Or something that requires antibiotics and throat cultures and medicine that takes CVS four hours to fill while my kid screams in the backseat because he will inevitably catch it. And, considering he gets his crappy immune system from his mama, I'll get it, too. I always do.
I just don't play the "just a cold" game and for good reason: Ethan never, not once in his little life, had "just a cold." His very first experience with illness happened to be a nasty bout of RSV that landed us in the hospital and served as the start of our formal relationship with his nebulizer (or "Nebbie," as the blue plastic bastard is called around here in an attempt to attach some affection and fondness towards it). RSV quickly spawned into RAD which, let me tell you, is anything but rad and basically stands for "you will have major respiratory problems that will one day become asthma, sucker" (or Reactive Airway Disease). From that first sickness on, Ethan couldn't get "just a cold" or "just the sniffles." It's an impossibility completely. A common cold that another child kicked to the curb in forty-eight hours becomes two weeks of respiratory misery for Ethan. Two weeks of treatments and lung steroids and sitting inside our house feeling stifled and bored with every project on Pinterest that we must have done at least seventy-four times each. Oh, and the coughing and the "breathing breaks" weeks after "just a cold" is finally gone, the promise that weeks later Ethan still won't be able to keep up with the other kids or play on the playground without flushed cheeks and a shortage of breath a la asthma. Yeah. No. Take your "just a cold" and shove it, please. We don't play that game. And don't pretend your kids crusty, goopy eyes and face full of snot is the result of being "really tired," either. We don't play that game, either.
If there's one thing other people love to share, however, it's germs. This has made living among society a challenge for someone like me who has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sharing germs. (Keep those suckers to yourself, please.) If I had a dollar for each time a mother toted her sick kid to a mommmy and me class, museum or playground and had the audacity to utter the words "we just couldn't stay cooped up at home any longer" with the intention to garner sympathy and understanding from me, I would be be rich. Or at least able to fund the Germ Restricting Bubble that I dream of inventing for all kids who are sick of the germ sharers among us.
Dude, just keep your sick kids home. Commend yourself on being noble and brave enough to survive the confines of your home during a time of illness. Take your kids on a car ride or a walk around the block for fresh air like the rest of us, not to the children's museum where your strep-ridden kid is free to lick their hands and then touch everything in sight.
I guess you can figure out where I'm going with this. We're sick. Again. It's been weeks since we left the house (aside from the one day, after day six of my antibiotic and finally feeling fully healthy, I let my friend take me out for a pre-birthday foot massage) and the germs inside these walls are keeping me up at night. No, they really are. Just when I thought we were all healthy, Ethan woke up barking like nothing I've ever heard before which, two hours later, was diagnosed as croup. For some reason, Ethan is really into having croup. He hasn't stopped telling me "I have the croup, mommy" before giving me a totally exaggerated cough which, thankfully, has finally lost the bark. Apparently croup (or "the croup" as Ethan says) does best in cold weather and, luckier yet, it's actually been chilly in Florida so in an attempt to beat cabin fever, my stroller-hating child leaps into his stroller every morning and we've been walking miles upon miles just breathing in the fresh air. We don't do good trapped at home. We become desperate and cranky and stressed out and frantic. On his third bubblebath of the day (because, you know, it's something to do), Ethan declared that he missed My Gym and his friends and hoped they would remember him when "the croup" went away. I assured him that they would. He smiled sadly and gave me an exaggerated cough.
Miserable and ready to play rock, paper, scissors, throat punch with the next person who thinks sharing their germs is a rite of passage all children must endure to build their immune systems.