Joy of Parenting: Sick Kids

Wanda Sikes has a great bit in one of her comedy acts about parents with kids. She reveals how parents with kids lie to parents considering having kids so as to pull them into their shared misery. “Sure it can be work, but it’s WORTH it!“ It is all in good humor, and I admit I laughed out loud many times.

I have four beautiful children, who each in their own special way(s) provide me with new and interesting ways to learn life lessons. One of our favorite comics to read is Baby Blues because the humor is so applicable to our current station in life. There is no doubt the two authors of that strip are and have been parents of small children. Practically every panel we read, my wife and I turn to each other and laugh because we can think of an exact situation where our children have done the exact same thing.

Because there are so many things to laugh about with parenting in order not to go completely stark raving mad, I have decided to start the first of likely many posts about the “Joy of Parenting.” This will include things that happen typically as a result of our little bundles of joy going through their typical stages in life that bring a strained grin to our faces (with clenched teeth) or any number of other emotions.

Today the topic is the seemingly perpetual situation of sick kids.

My family has been experiencing some sort of sickness since just before Christmas. Having a bout of sickness in the house isn’t all that uncommon in the winter months, but this year has been a doozy. Nothing warms the heart and brings the joy of parenting like dealing with vomit spewed on every wall and floor surface within imaginable reach of a child’s bed. The smell alone drives me from the room, as it would any sane individual. I don’t lay claim to having the strongest stomach in the world, but what comes out of my kids could have some sort of military application I am sure.

It’s bad enough that our kids have made sure they have a “throw up bucket” as a permanent fixture in their rooms. Pleasant, eh? Fortunately these last few weeks have been only coughs, sneezes and plenty of fevers. This “fortunate” side of things is difficult to remember when it comes to trying to console a moaning and crying one year old at 1 am, 2 am, 3:30 am, etc. I don’t think my wife or I can remember that last time we had an uninterrupted, full nights sleep at home. We find ourselves planning short getaway vacations simply for the opportunity to get some decent sleep!
Before kids, I rarely caught any sickness. Granted, I lived a more physically active life at the time, but I like to attribute the bulk of my more frequent sickness to my kids. We ship them off each day to these germ breeding grounds we call the school, where they share all manner of sanitized gear and situations. After a day full of germs swapping they come back with fresh crops of infestations to share with the family.

Once the little bugs have found their way into your house, the fun begins. If your lucky, the whole family catches it and you endure a few days or a week of misery together. That’s if you’re lucky. More typically one or two people get it, get better while the others incubate the little bugger only to get sick a week or so later and start the cycle all over again. Round and round, like a fun little infection merry go round.

Kids exhibit their discomfort in their own, personal little ways. Since discomfort was part of that statement, you know they don’t jump for joy and exclaim their gratitude for their feelings of misery and discomfort. Some just whine and moan a bit, others get cranky and bring out their little devil inside. I feel the most sympathy for my baby. As I write this post she has been crying for an hour with my wife trying to comfort her. Not the cry that annoys you, but one that makes you feel bad because she really feels that awful.
In our house, there are little privileges that come with being sick. Meals in bed, regular supplies of movies and TV when you normally can’t watch them, etc. Of course because of these little treats, even when our kids have even a little cough they try to embellish it in hopes of gaining the “extras” as soon as possible. You know your kid isn’t faking it though when after days of not eating you get so desperate for them to eat anything you offer ice cream and they still refuse.

We used to frequent the pediatrician on way too regular a basis, but with some experience under our belts now we are well on our way to qualifying for our own degree of some kind. We can diagnose our kid’s ailments with a decent measure of accuracy, enough that our doctor respects our judgment to take it at face value. My wife can practically sense an ear infection coming days away…really. I’d call it a sixth sense, but she is well beyond the single digits on her built-in motherly super-abilities.
Yes, sickness is never fun, and as part of parenting, you get to experience in in abundance. Vomit, coughing and sneezing in my face and more bodily fluids than I knew could come out of every orifice than I thought possible. Paints a lovely picture, doesn’t it? It’s a good thing I love these little buggers.