This might be TMI, but the milestone I’m currently looking forward to in my almost 4 year old is his ability to cough up phlegm and gunk rather than this endless cycle of cough cough, swallow, more cough, more swallow. You can forget riding a bike, hopping on one leg or perfect speech development. The ability to expel muck and yuck from his chest is what I want – no, NEEEED, right now.
When Ryder figured out how to blow his own nose, it was life-changing. Like seriously, worthy of song and dance and thanking of the Good Lord for bringing us to that point. Colds and flu instantly became more manageable. He stopped treating me as if I was delivering a deadly dose of chloroform every time I approached him with a tissue. It was awesome. I’d lie on the couch and instruct him to blow his nose and he’d do it willingly and ably, taking us one big step to good health one giant booger blow at a time.
For the past month since starting at a new pre-school, however, my son has been ill. From the Facebook memories notifications I’ve been getting, I know that January / February are generally sick periods in our home each year, so I’m not terribly stressed about it. He’s still happy and active. We’ve been to the doc, been dispensing meds on and off, but still, the days are filled with snotty noses and gunky chests. I tried the natural route with a bit of honey before bedtime, but after the first night he decided “I don’t like honey! It’s deesgusting!” and now swirls it around in his mouth looking as if he’s about to explode, before running to spit it all out. (Yes, the very same action I wish he would implement with the gobbies sitting in his chest.) As kids this age are wont to do, his way of getting the muck out is far more disgusting. We’ve had at least 3 instances of changing bed linen at 11pm because a coughing fit eventually ended in snotty vomit all over our bed. So lovely.
To add to the merry mayhem, last week he sustained a bad fall with his dad. We were out at a flea market one Friday night when a torrential Durban downpour came out of nowhere. We tried to wait it out but – 20 minutes in – we got restless and decided to chance the treacherous run back to the car. Big mistake. Dad slipped on a wet surface (a tennis court, nogal) and went flying with threenager in arms. The result was a pretty badly skinned leg for threenager (his 4th in 3 months… BOYS!) and a stiff and tender shoulder for Dad.
This entire period of battling boogers and blood has highlighted the very different ways in which my husband and I approach illness and injury. The Hubster is very much a get-to-the-doctor-at-the-slightest-sign-of-sickness kinda guy. Me on the other hand… I’ll first try to treat things at home, administer over-the-counter meds, Google ad infinitum, realise Google says medicine is evil and will kill you, try a few natural remedies in between, and then only if I am sufficiently close to death will I give in to his nagging and haul myself to the GP. Fortunately most things can be treated at home successfully. This approach leads to disagreements when my laid-back style of health management collides with The Hubster’s overly cautious, over sensible one. Husband is also easily queasy. On the night of the skinned knee and dislocated shoulder he was close to fainting at the sight of Ryder’s and his own blood. Picture this – me, unable to see the injury because it was dark and I was driving. Husband – in the back with a screaming Ryder, every now and then looking over at the kid’s knee and going “Oh God. Oh, it’s bad, babe. Babe, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to deal with this at home. It might need an emergency room visit.”…. It was enough to make me fly into a wild panic.
Except, I’m a mom, which is pretty much on par with being a superhero. We got home, I looked at the skinned knee, gave the hubster a colossal eye roll and proceeded to take care of business, mom style. Ryder eventually fell asleep and I was able to disinfect and clean up the leg. Under duress we went off to the doc the next morning and paid 500 bucks for the honour of having the doc tell me to do all the things I’d already done the night before – clean it with diluted Dettol, slather on some Bactroban and give kiddo some pain meds when it’s sore. Uhh, thanks, Doc. Husband however was extremely good at patching up the leg with a bandage and character band aids according to the rigid demands of a three year old.
Anyway, my son appears to have inherited his father’s sense of drama about injury, so I spent all of last weekend playing nurse to a 3 year old and a 33 year old. Ryder wanted to be carried everywhere. “I can’t walk, mummy. It’s vewwy vewwy sore!” he wailed all weekend, such that husband decided he couldn’t possibly go to pre-school on the Monday. He also wanted to keep him home the next day, but I waited until Dad had left home for work before quickly getting sonny boy ready and out the door for school. And just as well I did. Because the minute we arrived at school, the child was instantly and miraculously healed, to the point of hopping, skipping and jumping happily up the steps on that same dramatically band aided leg that a few minutes before had been close to requiring amputation. The teachers actually asked if he really had a bad injury or if the 62 plasters were covering up just a teeny tiny scratch. He’s been mostly fine for the rest of the time – able to participate in sports and Grandparents Day at school, but at home he has still milked his ouchie for all it was worth.
One week later, the scab has fallen off (side note: I’m super jelly at how a kid’s skin heals so quickly compared to my own wrinkled and wrecked derma). Dad is still in pain from his shoulder. Kiddo is still a spluttering noise machine especially at night. It’s mostly interrupted sleep and pleas for our hacking threenager to spit it out, please, just freaken spit it out. If it’s not cleared up by the end of this week I will be hauling him to the doctor. We might also need to review putting him on allergy control meds and looking at his diet. For now, I’ll keep standing on the sidelines cheering him on and willing him to figure out the very important life skill of knowing how to heave up a giant slime ball from one’s thoracic cavity. Google says it should happen when he’s about 5 or so. Sigh.