Most of the time, I’m delighted my two children are close in age. They get along well, and I’ve been able to hand down jeans, sneakers, sweatshirts and toys. I also got full use from my crib, playpen, high chair, walker, bibs and stroller.I only have regrets when they start doing “tag-team” illnesses. The World Wrestling Federation would be proud of my two, as they hand off their nausea, coughs, soaring midnight temperatures and runny noses. Tell me the incubation period of any given bug one of my kids has, and I will tell you, to the minute, when my other child will come down with it.
My son’s flu hit five days after his friend’s. That night was dedicated to throw-ups. I counted on my finger, calculating Thursday or maybe Friday. Thursday at midday, the school called to say my daughter had thrown up and I should come get her.
They won’t share a toy, a dessert or the crayons, but they happily shared strep throat, chicken pox, gastrointestinal distress and the endlessly mutating varieties of cold viruses.
To defeat one of my daughter’s persistent strep viruses, we did a piggyback series of very strong medicines. When her final culture came back negative, I pictured myself dancing victoriously around a boxing ring, surrounded by cheering tonsils. The offending germ was KO’d at my feet. What I should have visualized was that same germ staggering to its feet, packing its bag of nasty tricks and leaping deftly over into my son’s throat. Once there, it handed its bags to the nearest porter and snuggled down to incubate. It threw a housewarming party in my sons’ throat three days later. The viral party guests got steadily rowdier and more obnoxious until they were wearing little lampshades and swinging from my son’s uvula Sunday night, producing a roaring fever.
The other small bit of insight I received recently was that what they call strep throat today was called tonsillitis in my youth. I had tonsillitis every winter of my young life, in the days before bubble-gum-flavored antibiotics, when they (horror of horrors) gave you several shots of penicillin in the fanny to cure it. But at least I know that my children come by their sore throats naturally, and it somehow makes the whole thing less threatening.
Meanwhile, as I spoon out sticky, slow-acting antibiotics, I say never mind the years of therapy over fear of needles. I wish for a swift needle in my adorable children’s backside. I have no need for a round two.
Jean Gillette is in the market for a double set of antibodies. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.