Alec starts his second year of preschool this week, which means that for the next eight months I will have at least one sick family member in the house. Having a sick child means no one is happy. Obviously the sick child is not happy because he's sick; I'm not happy because one of my kids isn't happy; the other kid isn't happy because he's not getting all the attention; and Chad isn't happy because no one else is happy!
For me, one of the absolute most stressful parts of being a mother is having a sick child. When one of my kids gets sick, it starts a minimum week-long process of constant worrying and second guessing. Will the other child get sick? Will I get sick? Should I give him medicine? Should we cancel our plans? Do I need to take him to the doctor?
In an effort to reduce my stress levels this year, I have devised a simple 3-question "Sick Child Guide" to help me decide whether or not to worry when one of my boys is sick:
1) Is it green? I don't care what part of the body it's coming from, but if it's green it can't be good. (Thanks to the pool snack bar this summer, I did, however, learn that a 3-year-old eating a blue freeze pop results in a 3-year-old producing blue freeze poop.)
2) Is the child being good? If the child is behaving, surely there must be something to worry about. If one of the boys is not picking on his brother, I know it's time to call the doctor.
3) Will the child eat M&Ms and drink soda? If yes, then he can't be that sick. This also applies to cake, cookies, lollipops, ice cream and basically any other food that a child typically begs for. But if the child refuses the junk, then I know I need to prepare myself.
While having a sick child stresses me out, I've never really considered myself a "germophobe." But I have to admit that I do a bit more hand washing during the school year in an attempt to keep germs away. I'm still not convinced of how much it really helps though. With Chase being a thumb-sucker, washing his hands is basically pointless. I mean, why wash his hands when we get home from the mall when all he did at the mall was alternate between touching things and sticking his thumb in his mouth? I could spend hours of my day wiping his hands if I did it every time he touched something in public. What else can you expect from a 17-month old? Alec is pretty good about washing his hands, but it still seems impossible to keep them clean all the time.
Hopefully my kids are busy building up their immune systems right now so that in a few years it won't seem like I spend three quarters of my life wiping noses and taking temperatures. But for now all I can do is realize that being sick is a part of life. Wait, was that a sneeze I just heard?