Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The conundrum of the sick child

I'm sure many of you have had sick children before, and most of us were sick children at one point (or many points) in our lives. So why is it that I end up in a tizzy every time one of my darlings falls ill?

It all starts with the mental battle of

“How sick are they?”

It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (google this if you don’t get the reference) in your head of how many ways could each possible scenario work out.

Realistically you are often asking,

"Do I really have to change my life to accommodate theirs?"

The answer is inevitably yes, yes you do. Because even if you send them to school, let them go on the sleepover, attend the birthday party or push them to go to practice, you will spend the entire time wondering if you did the right thing and crushing yourself with guilt that you went to work, took a break, said yes even though you didn't want to etc...

And if you aren't crushed with guilt then I am sad for you, I really am.

So, now you've altered your plans, thrown life askew so that you could tend to their every need. Now is when you are hoping and praying that they didn't pull one over on you (because you know they will at some point and then sick day turns into grounding/angry mom day.)

This is when things get dicey.

Do you lavish them with attention, cook anything their little heart desires and let them watch unlimited television? I know you're tempted, but it's often our nurturing attitude that gets us taken advantage of during future sick days.

Do you go totalitarian on their adorable little selves and issue edict after edict making sure it's seen as a sick prison that they will be dying to get out of?

I aim for the middle ground. Somewhere along the lines of, give them whatever they want and enforce a mandatory nap time. That works right?

As these things are whirring around your brain you also have to endlessly ask yourself the questions like:

"Should I call the Dr.?"

"How high is too high for his temp?"

"If he vomits will I vomit or will I be able to help him?"

"What does the BRAT diet stand for again?"

"When was the last time he was medicated?"

"Should I call the Dr.?"

"Is he breathing?"

"I wonder if I should check if he's breathing?"

"Do we even own a mirror? That's how you do the breath test right?"

"Crap, what if I wake him up?"

"How long do I let this go before I call the Dr.?"

These thoughts get louder and take on a more stressed tone the longer the illness lasts. Only it's all happening in your head so no one understands why you're on the verge of tears and missing large chunks of hair.

Then there lies the problem of siblings.

Of course there is the panic of,

“What did they share recently?”

"Do they have symptoms?"

But there's also the problem of what to do with them. At this point they are extraneous and need to be eradicated from the moral equation. Oddly enough this is usually not an option. So then it becomes,

“How do I transport the sick child so I can drop off the well children.”

“How will I pick them up?”

“How much drama will it cause to let just 2 out of the 3 go to the party?”

“Will my husband attend the party without me?”

“What bribed will it take for him to attend mommy group so that the other 2 siblings don’t miss out on the fun?”

“Can I leave a 7 year old home alone if they're really tired?”

and of course the,

“Do I trust the neighbor I barely know and will she even answer the door if I go and beg for help so that I can somehow manage this sibling jumble that I've gotten myself into?”

Finally, as your day is winding down and you find yourself staring at your child sleeping peacefully (it's not staring to see if they're breathing...I promise...or maybe ummmm, shut up. I'm not paranoid) the thoughts go to,

“Will they be okay tomorrow?”

“Should I have called the Dr.?”

and inevitably whatever decisions you make will turn out to be the wrong ones in the morning and you will look like a crazy person because either:

1. They are fine and no one will believe they were sick.

2. They've gotten worse and you should have taken them to the doctor you negligent parent you!

3. They are still exactly the same and you didn't plan for that so now it's everything that happened above all over again.

I mean it's not just me right? (If it is, don't tell me. I'm happier this way) You all have these thoughts when your child gets sick?

p.s. The above story aside, I actually kind of like my children’s sick days. We spend quality time (even if it's gross), we snuggle (I have all boys so I gots to take what I can gets) and while they sleep I have endless time to do those projects that I never seem to get to. However my heart also hurts the entire time because to see one that you love struggle (with anything, not just sickness) makes me feel like I am struggling along with them. I would do anything to fix their hurt and discomfort, anything!


  1. Um... MOST of these thoughts! I have definitely faced that conundrum of whether to lavish attention and nurturing or create a sick prison. It falls a little more to the latter at my place due to the fact that my children would fake illness forever if it was any good... x

  2. Thanks for confirming that I'm not totally loopy! thanks too for stopping by my blog. I keep telling myself that comments really don't matter but it certainly is the highlight of my day when I get a few :)

    Your comment love is inspring Maxabella, I am going to try harder to pay it forward and spread the comment love around!