(This post could also be titled “My Mom is the Meanest Mom in the Whole World”, and it might even be true.)
So, apparently I really freaked my kids out by being so sick a few weeks ago. None of us have ever had strep throat (that I can remember, anyway), so it was a BIG DEAL to them. Like, one-breath-away-from-death Big Deal. I was too sick to realize they were so panicked, and so they turned to their dad for reassurance, which… well, let’s just say that he’s a bit of an alarmist when it comes to illness.
I got better, but the damage was already done. Every day, for the past three weeks, I have engaged in some variation of the following conversation:
Kid: Mom, I’m sick.
Me: Oh no! What’s wrong?
Kid: Strep throat. I have it bad.
Me: What are your symptoms?
Kid: My eyes won’t stop watering.
Me: Are you sneezing? Is your nose running? Does your throat itch?
Kid: (insert dramatic swoon here) Yes! I knew it! It’s strep! Do I need to go to the hospital?
Me: Allergies. They are ALLERGIES, and you need Benadryl. Or Allegra.
Kid: I’m pretty sure it’s strep throat.
Me: I’m pretty sure it’s not.
I’m not even kidding. Every headache is a migraine. Every sniffle is strep throat. A warm or sweaty forehead means one of two things: either a raging fever, or a raging fever that has broken.
[Common sense would (should!) show that the child who goes to bed in flannel pajamas when it's 70 degrees outside, and then pulls two fleece blankets over himself, plus a comforter and a quilt, might wake up a teensy bit hot. Most definitely sweaty. But who needs a thermometer when one of us has a magic hand that ignores common sense and can accurately measure a fever simply by hovering over the afflicted person. "Oooh, it feels like 103.7. Let's add more layers so the fever will break faster." Or (my personal favorite), "It feels like a fever of 101.2. Based on the amount of sweat on the pajamas, I'd bet this fever was at least 105, and it's gone down that much on its own. Should we call the doctor to let her know?"]
I have started telling the kids, in what has to be the WORST Arnold impression EVER, “It’s not a too-mah. It’s NOT.” And of course, they don’t get it.
For the past week, Sam has been running a (legitimate) low-grade fever. He’s had a mild runny nose. He’s also teething again, and he really likes to gnaw on his hands, which were looking a little red and chapped. Thursday night he threw up after dinner. (It’s the first time he’s ever thrown up, which is a miracle by itself!)
[Would it surprise you to know that parent with the magic fever-hand who claims to be the epitome of calm and collected in ANY crisis-- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hahahaha. Ha.-- stood at the high chair screeching for the other kids to grab something, ANYTHING, to stop the vomit, but "NO! NOT THAT! SOMETHING ELSE! NO! NOT THAT, EITHER! What about a clean towel from the bathroom? GRAB ALL THE TOWELS!"]
After a bath (and a large load of laundry), poor Sam laid on my lap in a sad, hot little heap for the rest of the night. He was running a (legitimate) fever, but couldn’t keep anything down, so I used cool washcloths to help him feel better. Four kids went to bed convinced that their baby brother had some sort of intestinal blockage that would require emergency surgery and a lengthy hospitalization, because what other reason could there possibly be for a baby to vomit?
So, Friday morning he woke up with a rash on his fingers, but with no more fever or vomiting. Since this is not my first baby, and not the first time I’ve taken a baby to the doctor for a rash, only to be told it’s Roseola, and will go away on its own, I let it go. By Sunday, they had morphed into these nasty blister-like things that resembled Chicken Pox, but only on his hands. So, to the InstaCare we went. (Remember when everyone got Chicken Pox at some point, and it was just part of childhood? Now they have the vaccine, for which I am EXTREMELY grateful, but kids hear “Chicken Pox” and equate it with imminent death. Or maybe that’s just my kids. I could not convince them that I survived Chicken Pox almost 30 years ago, along with their dad, their aunts and uncles, their friends’ parents, their teachers, their grandparents, and pretty much every other person over the age of 20.) Anyway, not Pox; Impetigo. It turns out that the strep version of Impetigo affects primarily the hands, and the staph version spreads around the mouth and nose. (DO NOT GOOGLE images. Trust me on this. Nasty, nasty, nasty.) So, I guess you could say that Sam had “strep hands”, which sent the family into another tizzy. It didn’t help when Kenny told them if they touched Sam, they would get it, too, and it would spread all over their bodies.
Kendra came into our room Monday night, about 2:30 AM, whimpering. She is 12 now, and hasn’t come into our room at night for years. Years and years. So, this was surprising. She felt hot, so I used the thermometer (NOT the magic fever-hand). 101.2. She took two Advil, and crawled back into bed. I asked her if she was hurting somewhere, and she said no. I asked why she was crying. ”Because I have a fever. It’s probably strep throat. I’m so scared! Will I get Sam’s rash?” I reassured her that it was most likely NOT strep, but probably Roseola, or something similar, which was completely mild and would go away in a day or two, and didn’t even give older kids a rash. She still felt miserable in the morning, so I let her stay home from school. I knew she was really, truly sick when she spent the entire day on the couch, watching movies and dozing off. She begged me to sit by her and play with her hair, or tickle her back, or rub her face.
When Anthony got home from school, he was not happy about having to share my attention, so he turned into Naughty Boy. (Annoying siblings and making them miserable since 2005!) Bedtime could not come fast enough. Of course, there had to be a massive thunderstorm that woke him up shortly after midnight, and the magic-hand thermometer pronounced he had a fever in the 102 range. (Because why wouldn’t a fever wake you up, rather than thunder, lightning, and a full bladder?)
So, I’ll give you one guess who did not want to go to school this morning. Anthony stomped around the house in his nightshirt, refusing to get dressed for school. When I sent him to his room, he sat on Alex’s bed and refused to move. He kept insisting he was sick, and he didn’t feel well, and there was no way he could go to Kindergarten. (He would have been more convincing if he’d kept the smile off his face.) I was tempted to let him stay home for a split second, but then I knew that I’d spend the morning hearing, “Mom, whyyyyy can’t I play Nintendo? What about my game boy? Pleeeeeeeease? Pleeeeeeeeeeeease? Can I at least play your phone? I’m feeling so much better now!” So I told him he could stay home (his face lit up!) but since he was sick, he would be expected to lay on the couch ALL DAY LONG, not getting up to play, not having any computer time, not having snacks or candy or anything else. (Aaaaand, just that fast, his face fell.) He practically flew back to his room to get dressed and brush his teeth while I wrote a note to his teacher. He thought I wrote that he was sick, and should be allowed to call me if he needed to come home. What I really wrote was an apology to his teacher, for sending him to school in such a rotten mood. (Good thing he can’t read cursive!)
Kindergarten ends in 20 minutes, and– surprise! He did not die. Nor did he vomit, cough up a lung, asphyxiate, bleed out due to nosebleed, or go into anaphylactic shock. He did have a small bug bite on his thumb, which was not caused by a Brown Recluse or a Black Widow, or a hepatitis-carrying mosquito, but as long as we don’t consult the magic-hand thermometer, it’ll probably clear up on its own.
If not, there is Calamine lotion in the medicine chest.