Sunday, 27 September 2015

Head colds and snot in preschoolers - what I have learned


Hallo autumn. I haven't missed colds. At all.

Sorry about the title but there have been times when we seem to be downing in the stuff and I had to learn fast.

With kids comes snot. I could write a novel on the stuff and on head colds. Digger had them coming like the London tube trains in rush hour for the first few months after he moved in.  I guess we gave him lots of new germs as did the kids in local playgroups.

Of course all this illness spelt excellent bonding time. Lovely times of physical closeness with my son in the sling ... never far from a tissue or a muslin.

Here a few thing I've learnt about snot. Do add further comments below.

  • As a parent you will touch snot and there is a 100% probability that it will also end up on your clothes. 
  • It is amazing what these kids can produce. I would swear my son produces more than the estimated 1dl per head cold.
  • It spells bad nights' sleeps. In my experience - three years in, the first two nights are the worst. 
  • You can elevate the bonged up nasal passage a bit by raising the head of the bed. A pillow under the fitted sheet has been suggested by many a friend and website. And so we tried it. Prob Good for kids who lie still all night. Digger doesn't. So instead of sleeping uphill, he ended up down hill and so much more bunged up. 
  • Rubbing his chest in mentholated petroleum jelly on any sort can keep everyone awake and unable to sleep.
  • A Nasal Decongestor is good news. Digger hated it but eventually got used to it. It is an excellent tool to avoid raw red nose and nostrils. 
  • Warm steam baths will help empty them, but also stimulates production. 
  • The colour matters. 'What colour is it?' My mum would ask. Ouh gross mum. Now this is what I ask of my husband. And of Digs himself. So here's the load down:
    • First day or two means dripping watery clear consistency. 
    • Third day this should slow down as the snot become more viscous. Digger would often be able to blow snot bubbles from his nostrils on day 3 and 4. The consistency would now be mucous. But pale. And very stretchy/ smeary. 
    • Once the colour turns a pale yellow you are over the worst. Usually this is on day 4 or 5 onwards. 
    • A good yellow and finally green sees you through to the thick and sticky end. This makes for big bogeys. Cubic centimetres stuff. 
  • A slight elevated temperature is normal at the beginning. 
  • Real fever (above 37.8 degree Celcius) is not.
'Does my kid have to stay home when he has cold' I asked my friend, a mum of four, early on. 'No.' was her short answer. By now she pretty much ignores colds from any of her children. What she does (and what I do now too) to check if they are really ill, is to whispers 'would you like some ice cream' behind their backs. If they turn around and eagerly pronounce that they would, they are not ill. Simple, and very true. Doesn't mean they don't need a bowl of ice cream and some down time with you. They probably do.

I'm not fond of seeing elevens of snot on toddlers. In fact I went to see a kindergarten and when I saw most of the kids with the number 11 written under their noses, I was certain this was not the place for my son. It is not so much about cleanliness, or even that snot is like drool on a sheepdog:  it's bound to end up somewhere soon. No, it was the lack of caring for them.

Things are lot easier now that the colds have slowed down and he is able to blow his own nose, aged 4. Well... Sort of. Almost. Nearly. On one such nearly-done-it-myself occasion I spotted a big bogey had ended up his cheek, and quick as the wind - we were in fine company - I mopped it up with a clean tissue which I tossed in the bin. All this in a nanosecond. This resulted in a spectacular melt down of the surprising sort: 'Puttit back! Mummy, put it back!' Well, I didn't.

Oh and if you feel a sneeze coming on and you want to provoke: look into a bright light.
If you feel it coming and you don't, just press the tip of your tongue into the roof of your mouth.

That's it. That's what I have learned. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Sometimes I'm not so sure

 I tell my son many times every day that I love him. Especially when we snuggle.

I add 'I love you when you sing, when you shout, when you eat. I love you all the time!' And for laughs I add 'I love you when you fart, and I love you when you poo. I love you always!' He loves the notion and the affirmation. So I try to come up with new combinations and situations. 

'I love you when I tell you off. When I say (for the hundredth time) 'Digger! Pleeease.... Just put on your shoes now. We are running late.'' Not a very conducive sentence I know. (Running where? Mummy never runs - or only when chased. Late?! For what??) But the reaction is common and human. 

That didn't compute. He looked up at me. Puzzled. 

'Really? When you are crossed?!'

'Yes. I always love you. Even when I am angry. Or annoyed.'

'Mummy, sometimes I am not so sure...' 

Outch. I'm glad he said it. It hurts. It's a wake up call. 

We can't stay connected all the time. And I am only human. I tire. I stress. I loose my patience.

That's not his fault. I'm ashamed that he would think it made him less lovable. But it is not rocket science if he did. 

Instead of just acknowledging his feelings with a look, perhaps a touch, a nod, but mainly silence - because he has just said something important and painful - I immediately launched into 
'Oh darling but I do!! Always .... bla bla bla blaaaaa'. As usual I was trying to be reassuring. Yet all I really did was letting him know that there was no space for feeling like that. At best. At worst it suggested he was wrong in feeling like that. And surely he did know best how he felt. 

I do the same to my husband when he complains about something at work. 'Oh he probably didn't mean it like that.' Not a great conversation opener. Neither is 'Gosh... Why would she do such a thing to you? She sounds like she really stressed out. Poor her.' Yep. I say a lot of unhelpful things to both my men.

Friday, 25 September 2015

20 seconds

Mindfulness. It's bloody everywhere isn't it. I tire of the word and the pressure it applies of smooth perfection and graceful presence. In clean minimalist homes. Smug. 

Yet I'm curious. And I freely admit - as I have done here many times - that I could do with a dose of slowing down to check in with all my senses. I'm a better mum and wife when I do. I stress less when I remember to slow down. And so I snap less, yell less, rush less, burn the toast less, cut my fingers less. And so on. 

So when I came across the idea of just looking your loved one in the eye for 20 seconds I was intrigued. I do that all I the time I thought. Truth is I don't. 

20 seconds is no time at all. Or just right. Or very very long. Definitely can be too long. 

Keep the gaze. Leave the world around. Just be. Right here. Right now. Connect. 

Larry Cohen talks of eye love. Of holding that loving gaze. Of the flow and deep sense of belonging that springs from it. 

The gaze. We do it when we are in love. Mothers and fathers do it with their children. Babies do it with their parents. 
And they turn away when they have had enough. Wonderfully clear message of 'Fanks but no fanks.' If not 'Buzz off.' Which of course can leave us feel rejected. Unhappily in love. Unfulfilled. Unconnected. 

So powerful is giving or withholding eye contact. So aggressive. So loving. So calming. So needy. So personal. 

What do you see? 

Look your child in the eyes every day. 
I'm guilty of forgetting that. 

Look your spouse in the eyes. Every day. 
I'm guilty of forgetting that too. 

Stopping to look. Not to look at. Just to look. 

It is so simple. And such a lovely way of slowing down. 

Try it ... 

What did you think? 
How did it feel? 

What did you see?