This winter, life has been a bit rough.
We’ve had one continuous Germ Fest after another.
After Thanksgiving, we all had the flu. After Christmas, the infections began: double ear infections, bronchitis, strep throat…Jolly good fun. January was topped off by a case of Mononucleosis, like a cherry on top a very large bacterial parfait.
I knew we had all had ENOUGH when the Mono was diagnosed. Everyone was sick of being sick. That week, Little Guy came into the living room wearing a home made Plague Mask.
A Plague mask!
You know, those beak-like masks, dark robes, covered in oily wax from the dark ages? They wore them when they came to collect people that died from the Plague. Does Little Guy really think it’s that serious?
“I’m not getting HER germs!” he snorted.
How does he even know what a Plague mask is, you ask? Oh, I don’t know. History books lie around here in bulk… We could probably construct furniture from surplus hardcover books. Can’t get enough history and art and literature, right? But I digress. Back to the Plague.
He was wearing two pairs of Spiderman boxer shorts on his head, a long, dark Obi Wan Kenobi robe from Halloween, and he was wrapped up in a scarf. With mittens.
Way to be proactive, Little Guy.
But isn’t he taking this a little too far? He had his share of antibiotics. Can I blame him for being wary? There has been a lot of talk about the measles at Disneyland…whooping cough, chicken pox, Ebola… How much disease talk can one little kid take?
How does a kid decide what is fine, what is trouble, and what is DOOM?
Little kids just don’t know. How serious is serious? I mean, we go to the doctor a lot. They don’t forget those shots easily.
“Okay, Mom. I trust you. You say I gotta be shot up with diseases today, then I trust you. I may scream and try to run away, but I’m still counting on you to take care of me. …Are you kidding, Mom? THREE shots at once? I’m gonna run. Will I die? Will I still know who I am tomorrow? Can I have a sucker AND a sticker?”
I know that’s what they’re thinking as I sign on the dotted line, saying I accept all possibilities and it’s my own fault if they die because of vaccinations. I know it.
They don’t have much control over their lives. So they take what they can into their own hands, and craft a nice little Plague mask for protection. How effective is that underwear hat going to be, Kiddo? I had to laugh.
But after I laughed, I realized that I do the exact same thing. No, I don’t wear boxers on my head for disease protection. But I do ridiculous things to try to make things better.
I could insert a list here: I avoid doorknobs. I (still!) buy antibacterial soap. I wash my hands compulsively. I call out “drive safely!” to everyone, even adults. Will this really make a difference? They do know how to drive safely already. But I still worry. I teach them to be careful with scissors (“Blades down!”) careful with pencils (“Oh, my goodness turn that around, you’ll poke your eye out!”). One of my older kids prefaces requests with “I know you won’t like this because you say I’ll poke my eye out, Mom. But can I please have a ________?” Fill in the blank with anything that any normal American kid might have. And mine do not. Like real darts or real bows and arrows or bb guns or sharpened blades and axes from the middle ages…
The truth is, I can’t control life, and I worry. Even though I make them eat vitamins and probiotics and gluten free bread, we could still get hit by a truck tomorrow. I can’t control life. It happens.
It does happen.
Eating organic isn’t going to save us from life any more than Spiderman underwear on our head is. We can’t save ourselves. Vaccinations, disabilities, illness, even the Plague… We can’t stop it. We just have to roll with it and love those kids as much as we can.
We need to hug them and love them and tell them they are worth it. They are worth all the sleepless nights and doctor bills and drawings on the walls and the yogurt in the carpeting and the headaches and the overtime. And no matter what happens, whether they get a shot or need surgery or are fighting cancer someday, I am here. I am here because I love them, and nothing can change that. Not Autism. Not Down Syndrome. Not a poor report card. Not two months of being sick. Not even the Plague.
I’m here because I love them. All of them. No matter what.
I’m a mom.
Yes, you still have to have the shot.
You still have to eat oatmeal.
But you are loved. So everything is gonna be okay.
Later on, after the Plague Mask Kid went back to play, the One With Mono had something to say:
“This is the life. I hope Mono sticks around for a long time. The doctor actually told me I have to lay around and sleep as much as I want to! No medicine, no shots. Just my bathrobe and the couch. Jolly.”
Life is good. So put that Plague mask away and hug someone.