Childhood diseases and how to deal with them

Years ago, me and a few of our friends were all talking about what childhood diseases that we had.

We were living in Wells at the time and this is the sort of conversation that you end up having when you live in a small mountain town in the summer in your twenties. After you exhaust all the big conversations about life and love and religion, random oddities become the conversation lubricant when there is no cable and the gas station has lost the VHS of the first Harry Potter movie.

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Anyway, of the lot of us, most of us had chicken pox, one had mumps and one had scarlet fever. When my girlfriend told me that she had scarlet fever when she was little, it stunned us all for a moment in disbelief.

"Like Beth in Little Women? That scarlet fever?" I asked.

Yep, that scarlet fever. Who gets scarlet fever?

Turns out that lots of people still get scarlet fever and there is no vaccine. According to Wikipedia, scarlet fever was a leading cause of death in children in the early 20th century so thank all things holy that it is not the early 20th century. I thought of this conversation again when I received a text last week letting me know that scarlet fever was spreading around the kindergarten classes at my daughter's school.

Imagine my utter delight when a few days later, my son develops a fever. Luckily, it was not scarlet fever but just a run-of-the-mill pukey virus that laid him out (and us) for a few days and he is now back to his chipper self. To no one's surprise, our daughter got sick immediately after our son started to feel better and now no one has slept for days.

Our daughter is the rockstar of all children who are ill.

Since the time that that she was little, she always ran to the toilet to be sick and then would say, "I'm okay. I'm okay," after she was done. My son has always been a bit of a panicker and tended to just stand and be sick wherever he was. He seems to be growing out of that (thank god) and he now hits the bucket most of the time.

We are exhausted from being up into the wee hours of the morning administering Tylenol and actively monitoring the children for signs of a disease that should be resigned to the pages of Louise May Alcott novels.

The thing that you discover when you become a parent is that your own sleep becomes less important than anything else in your life. You sleep lightly so you can hear your child's midnight whimpers and unsettling fever dream chatter. You administer medicine, draw cool baths, kiss foreheads and hold buckets of sick and barely even notice the deep fatigue in your own body (that is a lie - you notice your own tiredness, you just can't do anything about it).

Hour by hour and day by day, you do what you can to keep your kids safe and healthy and you hope that what you are doing is enough, while trying to dodge the puke that is aimed your way.

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