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Small Talk: Colds — a family affair

Would you like the night to last forever? Just wait until your child has a cough and fever.

After an astounding eight or nine months of blissful childhood health, including the Christmas season, I was sucked completely into a hubris-laden euphoria. The gods did not disappoint.

Seeing your child sweat with a 103-degree temperature and listening to him/her bark and sputter, even in his/her sleep, just unnerves me. It put me in a very strange frame of mine, which I am embarrassed about, and yet suspect many a parent has experienced.

During my third pediatrician visit in two weeks, I became — well — angry when my daughter’s strep throat test came back negative. That meant it was a miserable, untreatable virus. Yeah, I know how that sounds.

My son had been home with a cold all week. Then an official notice then came home from school saying that strep was reported. That same day, my daughter registered a 100.4-degree temperature, complained of a sore throat, then lay down and fell immediately asleep on her bed after school. All my Mommy bells and whistles sounded. I went through the mental struggle of “Is it too soon to take her in? Can we take another three days or sleepless nights and high temperatures?” An executive decision was made.

Despite the cost of another doctor visit, we would nip it in the bud. All the signs pointed to strep. How could I have been so misled? That notice from school was a red herring. Perhaps I have been watching too many TV mystery shows.

Of course, after a moment or two, I pulled myself together and realized that I was saving money on pharmaceuticals, avoiding antibiotics and we did not (yet) have an infectious disease of the throat. This was excellent news, but it took some attitude adjustment.

Meanwhile, my daughter succumbed to the viral cough and cold that my son fought the week before. I am in the mood to rend my garments and tear my hair, but I know I am being a sissy. Because my husband worked at home, I did the night duty and lost a fair amount of sleep, but escaped those challenging days of entertaining a “sick-enough-to-stay-home-but-not-sick-enough-to-sleep-all-day” child. I borrowed videos, handed my son the remote control, fluffed his pillows, gave him his first dose of pills, and went to work.

Then I got the truly bad news. My husband was to leave town the next week. I need to rent again “Ernest Goes to Camp” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who, of course, caught her children’s cold. Contact her at [email protected].