I once had a neighbor whose children didn’t like to take medicine, so she forced it down. If they threw up, she gave it again “so they would learn.” It didn’t matter whether it was a life-saving medication or a painkiller. Apart from my oldest, who stopped screaming at the excitement of seeing a bottle of Acamol, my kids also hate taking medicine. So I don’t give it to them. When I take them to the doctor it’s usually to rule out something more serious, and we escape without prescriptions. Well, we get the prescriptions and I don’t fill them. I’d like to take credit for my kids’ overall good health (bli ayin hara), by breastfeeding and generally healthy living, but genetics remains the most likely explanation. I let my kids do all the things that supposedly make them sick, at least according to the Jewish mothers around here. At any rate among six kids antibiotics were required in one case of pneumonia, one or two cases of bronchitis, one newborn with viral meningitis that required intravenous antibiotics (and a 4-day hospital stay) until bacterial meningitis was ruled out, one or two cases of strep, a mysterious purple rash covering about 30% of a two-year-old’s skin, and one incorrectly diagnosed ear infection that disappeared before the first dose had time to take effect.The bronchitis and pneumonia also required “inhalatzia,” or a ventilator.
Other than that my kids’ illnesses generally consist mainly of fever (bli ayin hara). I keep an eye on them and only go to the doctor if it takes a turn for the worse. When my then 7yo daughter contracted a mild fever beginning on a Monday, she otherwise seemed well. On Friday at about 11:30 AM, while she lay down with her head on my lap, my inner voice said, “This child is sick.” (My outer voice was probably thinking about my Shabbat menu.) I called the doctor, who agreed to wait for us (most offices close at 12:00 on Fridays). He diagnosed pneumonia. He said that had I taken her in earlier, he would probably not have found anything. I still feel guilty despite avoiding an ER visit or worse.
All in all, I look forward to my kids’ minor illnesses. They tend to sleep off the fever while I enjoy a bit of vacation. I can usually cancel my plans for the day. If they complain a lot I offer Acamol (paracetamol; the equivalent of Tylenol), which they refuse. With any luck they stop complaining and go to sleep. My pediatrician friend agrees that Acamol isn’t necessary when fever is the only symptom. I hate forcing my kids to do anything and I have spent years honing my parenting skills to avoid it. With my kids and fevers no skills are necessary — lazy mothering carries the day.
Wishing a refuah shlemah (full recovery) to all who are sick.
My 3yo just told me that she’s wearing “cold” pajamas–you know, the opposite of warm ones. Unfortunately, lazy mothering didn’t get her to sleep before 11:00.
Inspired by Just Making It Up as I Go