FILED IN: Parenting

What if… A Spoonful of Sugar Doesn’t Help!?!

Growing up in an age of modern and advanced medical technology — together with a medicine cabinet crammed full of prescriptions — causes me to question when, in the name of all things therapeutic, are my children going to start feeling better?!? Winter isn’t even here yet, and we’ve gone through a bottle each of decongestant, cough suppressant and antihistamines, as well as two bottles of fever and pain relief medication.

And they’re still getting sick!

Actually, although they are no longer feverish, my three girls are still coughing and the boy was the last hold out — until recently — and it made me realize how differently each of my children react to infection.

With my two oldest girls it’s tonsillitis — my nine year old had her tonsils removed in October — and it’s that time of year when my son suffers from respiratory infections and croup, while my youngest daughter has the tendency to run very high temperatures for no apparent cause.

These are the “Mommy…please, make it better!” moments I dread the most.

Unfortunately, with four children living in a tight space and relentlessly trading microbes — and after eleven years of running to the pediatrician’s office at the slightest sign of illness — I am well aware of the difference between a viral and bacterial infection and know that perhaps this is one of those times; there is no magic liquid, pill or cure.

But still.


**grabbing the clicker and lowering the volume**

“I think Little Man’s surrendered to the crud.”

I shifted from my husband’s arms, looked over his shoulder and at my six-year-old son, who was buried deep into a cushion on the other end of the sofa, and spot his blonde hair curling over his purple ears.

Yes, purple ears.

No, they’re not permanently purple — only when his body temperature is elevated (like during soccer games and the entire month of August) — but this time, they were glowing a lovely shade of plum.


“Yep, he’s 101.5 and the crud triumphs, again!”

I was pissed, and not so much because the kid was sick and likely to be until spring break, nevertheless, in view of the fact that there has been at least one individual sick in this house since September, I am so done with spraying, disinfecting, dosages and co-pays!

Besides, I don’t think all the Lysol and Clorox in the world could beat this thing.

“Drink it, Little Man…it’ll make you feel better.”

**a bit muffled with pillow**

“Nuh-uh…it tastes yucky!”

**heavy sigh**

“I know it does, but it will bring your temperature down.”

**shakes head**


Okay, here’s where you grab a beverage of your choice — hot or cold — because sometimes parents will try anything based on the simple fact that they are just too gosh-darned tired to argue.

So, I told him a story.

When I was little, I used to run very high fevers all the time and they didn’t have really good medicines like you can take now. In fact, my mom used to give me aspirin that tasted awful and, when that didn’t work, my grandmother would use a remedy that really stunk!

“Do you mean it didn’t work, either?”

No, I mean it smelled bad!

He smiles.

You see, my grandmother was born in a time and place when there weren’t any drug stores or even doctors that they could go to and get medicine. So, they usually made their own. And one of the remedies she used most often on me was vinegar.

**blank stare**

Vinegar is that smelly stuff that looks like water and I like to pour on my salad?



So, she would take cloth rags and soak them in a bowl of vinegar and then wrap my wrists and ankles with them. And, after a little while, she would take them off and do it again, until my temperature came down. I hated it, but it worked! I mean it stunk really badly…and it felt awfully cold on my skin…and I cried about how I hated it, but deep down inside I knew that she was doing it to make me feel better. But, if I had the choice, I would have definitely liked drinking something that smelled like cotton candy.

**handing him the medicine cup**

Like this.

“You’re not going to do that to me…are you?!?”

Well, no. Not if you drink this. But I do have some vinegar in the cupboard, if you want.


Unsympathetic…who me?

Perhaps…if you’re from the school of “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

On the contrary, I’d like to think that I am just sick…of their being sick…as they are…and could only imagine…when a little bit of vinegar wouldn’t hurt, either.