The first day of spring symbolizes so many wonderful things: warmer weather, birds chirping, more daylight…and longer spurts without fevers, sore throats, coughs and chills for Babyface. This year, as I was just about ready to settle into six months without doctor’s visits or trips to urgent care, she caught a virus from The Petri Dish, also known as preschool.
Things started off mild. There was just a low-grade fever and some sniffles. As the weekend progressed, the sniffles became a fountain of snot and my shirt the most convenient handkerchief. The whining, fussiness and sleepiness escalated. Normally, Babyface is one of those kids that act normal when they’re sick. She still wants to go to the park. She still wants to go to school (wonder when that phase will end). She still wants to wear a dress in 50-degree weather.
This time, things were different. By Sunday, she was laying on the couch like an old man after a large meal. She was whining non-stop about everything, which made me wish for wine on tap, straight to my mouth. Her fever was consistently higher and, the kicker, she refused to go to the park with her friends because she was too tired. Alert! Alert! Either aliens have abducted my child or she is really sick.
Normally, I don’t take her to the doctor, unless she’s got a fever over 100 for several days or her symptoms are odd. If I took her to the doctor every time she had a runny nose, we’d start receiving letters from Sutter Health, congratulating us on our large donation. The doctor would check her temperature, her ears and her throat and give her a sticker. $25 for a sticker is a lot of money.
After she refused the park, I called the doctor. Turns out she had a bad ear infection. She was prescribed antibiotics and my nurse duty continued. I coddled her, kissing her forehead and hugging her at frequent intervals throughout the day. I gave her popsicles everyday. We played games, drew pictures, watched movies with popcorn, read books and even had a comedy hour everyday. Babyface would put Louis CK to shame with her knock, knock jokes.
Most of all, I let her whine. There were no time outs. I let her sleep, when she wanted to. Basically, I put every minute of my life on hold, so that she would feel good. Yes, all of the things a mother should do, when faced with a sick child.
Finally, Sunday, she woke up without a fever. She was running around in circles, like a dog chasing its tail. It was clear the infection was subsiding.
The problem: she was feeling better, but her expectations of the treatment she received the past five days, was still fully intact. The whining continued and the crying carried on. Suddenly, I wished I had been Nurse Ratchet instead of Mary Poppins. Her behavior was worse than the day after a long Disney World vacation. I had created a monster, and I would have to spend the next week retraining her.
Just as I was staring at the clock today, wondering if it was late enough to have a glass of wine (it was two o’clock mind you), Babyface told me she needed to tell me a secret. I bent over and she whispered, “I love you, Mommy.” A pretty nice payment for another week of retraining a little monster, I guess.