Thursday, May 19, 2011

The silver lining to a filthy shopping cart

I caught my 17-month-old licking the shopping cart while we were at the grocery store last week. I used to laugh at those fabric shopping cart covers, but not anymore. Now I wish I had had one last week, because the very next day, her nose started running and she started coughing, and I remembered her licking that shopping cart and thought, "Oh, no, here goes."

Sure enough, she got really sick. The night my husband and I were supposed to have a positively epic date night, she developed a fever and threw up. Date night was canceled. The next day, he and I both started to feel sick and my 3 year old started developing a cough and a runny nose. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in China, all it took was one baby licking a shopping cart to take down the whole family.

I try to look for the good in everything, because I've discovered that life is easier and a whole lot more enjoyable that way. So here are some of the things that you can enjoy about your children being sick with a cold, flu or other short-lived, minor illness:

1) More snuggling. They feel terrible and need affection and reassurance. They feel too crappy to be the constant, vibrating, perpetual motion machines that they usually are, so they can't get away from you as fast. They are more willing to sit on your lap and accept some hugs and kisses.

2) Longer naps. If both kids are sick, you can manage to have a day where they both nap together, so you can recharge for the next round of intense caregiving and do something fun for yourself. If you're sick, you can nap, too!

3) You are highly likely to catch what they have. This is bad, but what's good is the sympathy you'll get from your spouse. No way will you have to cook dinner tonight.

4) You can't really take your kids anywhere, so you're guaranteed a fairly low-key week. It's a great time to catch up on laundry and your favorite soap operas.

5) You get an opportunity for real nurturing and bonding. Attending to your sick, miserable child's every whim and giving her every creature comfort imaginable to help her feel better is something she'll remember. She'll learn that she can rely on you.

6) You get to feel immensely grateful that this is just a cold or just a flu and not anything more serious. Caring for a child (or two) that's sick with a flu for a couple of days is intense, exhausting and frightening. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to care for a child who's sick with something worse.

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