A Shot of the Flu
by Patty Eggertsson
Sunscreen Song got a lot of playing time on the radio recently, and it
was full of advice for the younger crowd. The song is clever and thought-provoking,
and most of the kids Iíve talked to think itís pretty cool. My limited
experience as a parent, which began 16 years ago, would also include this
little tidbit: get a flu shot every year. In fact, take two, theyíre small.
The flu will do a real number on even the heartiest kids, not to mention
their compassionate caretaker. There is nothing harder than watching your
little one suffering, and when your child is sick, I donít care how old
he is, he is still your baby.
sad, droopy eyes are the first clue, quickly followed by lethargy and a
clinginess that would match the Jaws of Life. The flu gives mothers a chance
to do what we do best: hover, nurture, and fret. These sometimes get lost
in the shuffle of carpooling, laundry, PTA meetings, team sports, yada,
The flu runs
on a reverse timeline for parents and kids. The first few days, the
child lies around listlessly with no appetite or energy. We run between
the sick child and the other kids in the family, the pharmacist, Blockbuster
and the freezer, keeping it well stocked with popsicles and frozen fruit
bars which are the basic staples of a sick child who doesnít feel like
eating or drinking. We check their temperature every hour and give them
cool rags to put across their foreheads. In the name of good taste letís
just gloss over the pail that we place by their side; we all know what
itís for and how itís maintained.
and four are roughly the same but by then the reversal has started to take
place. The kids are slowly getting back their strength and a healthy color
to their face, while the parents are fading fast. Three or four nights
of sleeping with one eye and one ear open have taken their toll, plus how
many times can a person watch The Lion King in one week? Not only do you
have to attend to the sick child but the rest of the family still needs
hot meals, clean clothes and rides back and forth to school, practices
and friendís houses.
Days five and six
bring a marked difference in the patient and the parent. He is still too
sick to go back to school but not too sick to be driving you crazy. Last
year my little one stayed home from school for a whole week. It was the
longest week of my life. By the time Monday rolled around nothing short
of a tidal wave would have kept me from sending him back. I sent
him off with a kiss and a subliminal message, ďGet OUT of here!Ē Just kiddingóOK,
maybe I was a little anxious to see him go butóall right, yes, YES! I prayed
all weekend that heíd go back to school but is there really something wrong
Donít answer that.
Just get me a red popsicle and a copy of ďYouíve Got MailĒ from Blockbuster.
Iím feeling a little weak.