To the child with a really high temperature, cough or cold
Last week, first one child had a really high temperature, and then the other two succumbed to the same virus too.
Soon all three of my children were suffering from fire and brimstone temperatures of 40˚C (104˚F). They each spiked two to three fevers a day, usually in the evenings and nights, sometimes at the same time. For the girls (aged five and seven), the illness lasted several days each. But my poor toddler, aged two, suffered for an entire miserable week.
So much for trying to lead a healthier family life.
And as I raced from one child to the next, mopping brows, administering medicine and checking temperatures (while feeling quite scared and coughing and sneezing with the same virus) I came to a few realisations.
Dear child suffering from a cough, cold or high temperature:
If a parent is so concerned about your welfare as to want to bring down your raging fever, please kindly accept any medicine offered
Don’t clamp your mouth shut and say, ‘No! No medicine, don’t like medicine’ or ‘That one’s yucky.’
Likewise for drink
If your mum is trying to serve you liquids which you’re not normally allowed in your bedroom after toothbrush time, like apple juice, believe me, she’s worried. Take whatever’s available. And if she is having to force fluids into you in a syringe, she’s very worried indeed.
In the same way, please don’t put your hands over your ears when it’s time to check your temperature
I have an ear probe thermometer, highly accurate and wonderful, and I love it. But it does need the cooperation of the poorly toddler. (Unless they’re asleep, in which case, break a leg. But watch out for that beeping noise beside your littlie’s ear. It has an annoying tendency to wake them up.)
If your parents generously offer up a space in their bed to you, please be so kind as to avoid sticking your knee in their backs, lie there sighing or want to stroke their shoulders
They will have only offered you bed space as a last resort. They will already be exhausted, having spent quite a long time trying to get you to go back to sleep by the usual methods, so please do them a favour – just roll over and fall asleep.
Don’t then sob wholeheartedly when your mother tries to decamp you to the other side of the bed because your father has vacated it (having grown tired of the shuffling and the sighing and the knees and the small body pulsating heat next to him.)
It means that your put-upon mother has to get out of bed to switch sides, while you lie in royal splendour.
During the daytime, in between Calpol hits and fever spikes, please don’t go galloping around the house as though you’re on holiday
While you and your parents know that you’re not at school as your temperature shot very high last night and your body needs to rest, and that you’re hyper because you’re powered by medicine, the neighbours won’t understand. Particularly when they hear you singing through the walls and moving furniture around to put on ‘shows’.
And if of your siblings is feeling really poorly and is curled up in a scary-looking ball on the sofa?
Please don’t start asking the only adult present to get stuck into crafts with you.
Children’s medicine is not cheap and when you’re ill, you go through a fair amount
We’d therefore appreciate it if toddlers didn’t spit it out. Thanks so much.
It’s also very sticky and difficult to remove from carpet
So if you do decide to spit it out or tip the spoon everywhere, you must expect to be reminded of this event well into your teenage years.
When your parents say, ‘Hmm, you’ve made a remarkable recovery, I think it’s time to go back to school’, don’t pretend to be all poorly again, as though school is an optional extra in life
Finally, please humour your parents if you’re told your body is hot…
…and that the duvet must be pulled off, your pyjama top removed and your forehead cooled with a moist flannel. Don’t complain loudly, say you hate everyone and pull the duvet back up to your neck when you think no-one’s looking.
And here’s what I learned about nursing feverish kids:
– Children can hallucinate while experiencing high temperatures
My two-year-old saw a bee, a house and a tree in his pillow.
– A spike in a child’s temperature can also make them vomit
(Possibly all over your bed if you were kind enough to move up for them as per point 4.)
– Toddlers are most likely to refuse the thermometer, medicine, fluids etc when they’re shaking because their temperatures are spiking and they feel really grotty
Unfortunately, that’s when you’re feeling desperate, and are most likely to resort to blackmail and threats.
– If your child has a really high temperature, here’s my trusty technique for using an ear probe thermometer on a toddler:
‘Please could you press this button, darling, to switch the thermometer on? Shall we check Mummy’s and Teddy’s ears first? Now it’s your turn – which ear shall I start with first?’
It was a roaring success for a whole day.