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The Upside To Having a Sick Kid

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Nora was sick the past few days and while I’m certainly not glad about it, I’m reveling in her under-the-weather behavior. Here’s why:

Since so many parents are dealing with germy kids right now I thought it could be fun to celebrate what, for me, is a silver lining: that my usually wild and crazy kid actually sits and is sweet and doesn't have the energy to even whine. The past three days have sucked in some ways but they've been so much easier in others because instead of peeling Nora from the rafters and managing her moods and meltdowns, I just have to lie with her and watch Puss in Boots for the 85th time. 

Nora developed a cough on Saturday and had a fever that spiked to 103 on Sunday. Then she coughed so much she puked. Twice. Despite all that, it’s been relatively calm in our house. Nora has a lot of spunk and a lot of sass and that gets muted when she’s not feeling great. She also likes to hug more and sit in my lap more—she does these things when she’s not sick but it usually comes with a price (i.e., she’ll jump up too fast and smack my chin with her skull or she’ll just whine “Hold me, Mom” nonstop while I’m cooking or trying to help Al with his homework.)

On the way to the doctor yesterday, she stared out the window and only spoke three times. Once to say, “Mom, Daddy forgot to get me a mint at the diner the other day;" later to say, “Mom, we didn’t bring a book to read;” and finally, an unprovoked “I love you, Mom.” Normally in the car she’s requesting a million things I can’t give her, demanding to hear Phillip Phillips, asking me to roll her window down, telling me to turn up the volume, roll her window back down, pick up some random thing she’s dropped that she has to have while I’m driving 40 miles per hour. “No, I need it now, Mom!” she’ll whine. (I don’t indulge her, mind you, but it makes for super intense driving.) I couldn’t help notice how unintense it’s been with her lately. Cleaning up puke wasn’t fun, obviously, but other than that we’ve had a mellow few days. And mellow is not a word I would ever use to describe my kids.

It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that I am not wishing my kids ill. I obviously prefer them healthy. And this post is not referring to seriously sick kids or sick babies, at all. I know how hard it is to have a baby with even a stuffed-up nose and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone (which is why I’m not bringing her to a playdate this morning to see a friend’s baby even though I really, really, really want to go). It’s just that I couldn’t help notice the change in the vibe around here since Nora’s been, well, not herself. She hasn’t been fighting with her brother. She’s been sweet. She’s been sitting still. She’s been agreeable. Of course now that she’s on antibiotics, she’s retuning to normal (she’s all sass and has cabin fever to boot—awesome!) and thus our reprieve is over. And I’m thrilled she’s on the mend, I just wonder if anyone else has experienced this welcome calmness when their kids get a little sick. Any other silver linings? Let’s discuss!