This is a gross post - just a warning in advance!
If you know me at all, you know I’m a teensy bit of a germophobe. (Hey, friends! Stop laughing at me!) I’ve been known to exclaim, “Oh, God! Get away from me if you’re sick! I mean it, do NOT touch me until you’ve washed your hands. Maybe you should sit over there. In the corner farthest away from me,” and “Are you going to throw up? If you’re going to throw up, you get away from me. I don’t want to even see you in my line of vision.”
Yeah, sympathetic friend, me. I’m definitely the one you want around when you’re dying of whatever plague you’ve contracted lately. (Well, if only if you want me to hand you my neverending supply of hand sanitizer and bark at you to wash your hands.)
But it seems all bets are off when it comes to kids. Oh, no, I don’t revel in germs. In fact, I tell parents I work for very bluntly that I do only certain kinds of sick and if your kid is sick, chances are I don’t want to see them, let alone have their snotty, spitty hands all over my face and shoulders and hands. But I’m nice to people who are desperate.
Today, SaraBeth, mother of 16-month-old Diva and Footballer, was desperate. Diva has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, the latest in a long, unending line of daycare illnesses for both kids that began with a constant cold and escalated to 103°F fevers and strep throat and Fifth’s Disease and I think a few stomach things in there. Poor SaraBeth (and poor twins!). I really felt awful for her – she’s missed a ton of work because of her sick little twins. It’s an occupational hazard of daycare, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck hugely. I have no idea if I’ve even had Hand, Foot and Mouth, but I agreed to go over to let her work from home today.
After all, it was only Diva for today, though I had both last night. Two sick babies (and I’ve done it! I’ve dealt with two feverish, snotty, coughing children at once) all day would be a lot, especially because Footballer is known as “Zombie J” because of his tendency to wander around, his face and eyes crusted over with gook, moaning on one note, in and out like a broken accordion, his arms extended towards you. Ugh, I love you too, buddy. Luckily, he was well and was able to go to daycare.
And anyway, I figured I could keep the snot and such out of my way due to my excellent hand cleaning methods and expert turning skills. (Kid begins to twitch her face, turn her out in a flash so that her sneeze sprays the other way instead of into your face.) So I started last night with the twins – Footballer was overjoyed to see me, because I’m his favourite. So I joyfully gave him hugs and kisses on his cheeks and forehead . . . only to meet with his disgusting snotty nose when he turned his head at the last second. Pow, right in the kisser. Ewwww.
Diva was pock-marked and bedecked with the telltale blisters of HF&M and was running a slight fever. She was also oozing . . . oozing fluid from her blisters, snot from her nose, and a ton of drool. Okay, ew. But I expected this, and was careful to wash my hands after I wiped her chin and nose. I was also careful not to let my hands get anywhere near my face. (First rule of disease transmission: keep your damn hands off your face and mouth!)
Except she had other ideas. Diva loves to “feed you”. It doesn’t have to be food. She attempted to feed me a penny, a piece of carpet lint, her toy plastic bee, and a shoe last night, and continued this morning with a mix of real food and the Tylenol bottle, her milk bottle, and just her drool-and-snot-covered fingers. Er, thanks? And a few times, she actually got my mouth . . . and no matter how I felt like pouring a shot of vodka down my throat and all over my lips, I couldn’t avoid the slight, moist, gross wetness of her fingers on my face and hair and ears and neck. Because Diva is a clingy koala when she’s sick, I was holding her almost constantly, because putting her down elicited one of her very unique and trademarked siren screams! So I got lots of germy touching in places I really did not want germs to be . . . yuck.
Today, I came over to look after just Diva. Let me tell you, she is very different without her brother. Normally when I have both twins, it’s a symphony of crying, screaming, fighting, and both children trying to climb into the coveted spot on my lap. (Normally I have one on each knee, but that’s never good enough.) Today, Diva was . . . well, quiet. Tractable. Cheerful. She talked a lot – naming things she saw, waving at me and crowing to get my attention instead of screaming, and playing quietly on the floor or pushing around her push toy.
But the sick, oh, the sick. The gallons of snot. The drooling. And the worst . . . the cough. Diva’s cough was not there last night. It was worse this morning, and upon my arrival at 8:45 AM, I got coughed all over from head to toe. As is usual for sick children, she was also pooping. A lot. I changed three dirty diapers before I got tired of the whining and clinging and coughing and put her down in her bed with a back rub and a fervent wish that she’d go back to sleep for a few hours and wake up feeling a little better.
Thankfully, the Nanny Gods above granted my prayer and we were able to have a fairly nice today together. We went out for a walk and got caught in a very pretty snowshower. We had Starbucks like proper Toronto hipsters and Diva flirted with everyone far and wide. It was a successful day. And I am counting on my years-of-nanny-trained-strengthened immune system to hold up over the assault of germs on me today.
Except, I’m freezing cold and I have a tickle in the back of my throat. No, no, no . . .
Oh well. Diva (and Footballer!) are worth it.
More from parenting