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StorkNet presents . . .
Sanity Central > Columns > Stretchmarks on My Sanity

by Linda Sharp

There are many truths in this universe of ours. Scientific truths: Take gravity for example. Once an apple detaches itself from a tree it WILL, always fall . . . DOWN. Musical truths: "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow". Sappy perhaps, but barring a forecast for rain---well, you get the picture. And then there are Childhood Illness Truths: A child is most likely to need their Doctor AFTER the office is closed. A child will always choose to become ill in the middle of the night. And last but not least: Any child who throws up will have invariably eaten something red, something chocolatey or something requiring a fork to clean it up.

As parents, we have all been down the same road --- it's inevitable. We are raising little human beings and human beings all get sick at one time or another. ("Another" truth: If you have more than one child, they will all get sick at one time, not another.) I have three. Keeping them healthy is a challenge best likened to climbing Mount Everest---daunting. I pump them full of vitamin C, feed them healthy foods, dress them according to the weather, and light votive candles at church. Then I send them to school where despite my best efforts and precautions, some other child has the audacity to . . . sneeze. I acknowledge the first sign of a runny nose with weary acceptance. My life for the next three weeks will involve 50,000 tissues, two humidifiers, a jug of Benadryl, and snot as an accessory on everything I wear. To be honest, the common cold doesn't really bother me anymore. It comes, it stays, I wipe, it leaves. We coexist fairly peacefully.

However, I will never come to accept the virus whose sole purpose it is to "liquify" my children. It is covert, inevitably attacking in the wee hours of the night, yanking you from a wonderfully romantic dream involving Mel Gibson. It begins with a pitiful cry from your child, followed by a midnight showing of . . . dinner. (Universal Truth: Any parent would rather eat a plate of grubs than clean vomit from the sheets and carpet in the middle of the night.) Fighting this type of virus can have devastating effects upon the parental psyche. Personally, I find myself muttering words such as "The apocalypse" and "Armageddon". My oldest can never get from the top bunk to the toilet fast enough, the middle child on the bottom bunk lives in obvious fear of the top bunk occupant and my toddler's nickname of "Squirt" becomes much more literal than figurative. By the third day of one such "invasion", my husband came home to find me sitting at the dining room table, eyes glazed over, clutching a now empty bottle of Tide. He spent the rest of the evening trying to convince me that the President would not be providing me with National Guard assistance. Something about poop not being a priority.

Personally, I believe parents should earn stripes and medals, the kind awarded in the military. I mean, being thrown up on and resisting the urge to add to it yourself must surely be deserving of some sort of merit badge? Alas, none such recognition is given. Even the children you are caring for won't truly appreciate your efforts until they too find themselves rinsing Kool-Aid and hot dog from the sheets at 2am. So to you parents currently embroiled in the latest round of the flu and to those of you who will spy the first signs of a runny nose when Johnny gets off the school bus today, take heart. Grab some Kleenex, check your supply of laundry detergent and hum a few bars from "Annie". For there is one truth greater than all the others: "This too shall pass".

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