Sunday, February 22, 2004

Baby's First Flu

Greyblue lips and pasty skin that blotches when she cries. A belly once distended falls to rolls of flab over the tautness of the diapertop as she leans forward in bed. We've had two baths, and three changes of clothes. She doesn't cry much, but she coughs and complains. My brave little soldier girl is pretty sick.

We rack our brains: what are the things our parents did to help us through this? We soothe her brow, and sing to her at off-schedule naptimes; lie in bed all day, and allow extra television. Like her mother before her she won't drink bubbles, so ginger ale's out, but there's some Jello firming in the fridge, for a later half-better time we hope will come to the sick house soon. Mostly, though, we just repeat the litany of illness: it's okay, we know, it's okay, we love you.

It's hard to know if the words do any good; what's hardest to watch is that she clearly does not understand how she's lost control of her body. She doesn't know how to read the signs of impending spew, though she's learning fast, the hard way: just now in the middle of a tea-and-toast lunch she turned to Darcie and said, questioningly, mommy? just a moment before four times what had gone in came out violently, spurting past the chair to the tablecloth and floor. She can't yet imagine, and doesn't have the words or concepts for her own insides rebelling against her.

Sometimes what hurts most about parenting is this kind of helplessness: knowing it will be okay, but knowing, too, that we cannot truly help her know that: she will need to suffer through until she can accept this strange new feeling as something which must be suffered through, and which will pass soon enough.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:09 PM |

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