Illness: Nature’s Little Immunization

I don’t know about where you live and play, but for us this past week has brought forth news of a variety of childhood illnesses within our circle of friends. And I am not talking about colds or flu – this is the real deal, y’all.

First, it all started with an email last Wednesday from T’s school that a child was sent home due to HEAD LICE. Now this little bulletin wouldn’t have fazed me in the slightest, except that the Thursday previous we both attended the school field trip where we went on school grounds, rode a bus with his classmates, and bounced and climbed around with (and over) these kiddos at an indoor play place. So, yeah, you better believe C and I have been inspecting our little monkey like, well, a little monkey, picking and pulling hair back regularly and multiple times daily looking for these little buggers (literally). I only wish the email from school had told us exactly what we were looking for (thank goodness for Google images though, and blech).

Then the next fun piece of information I received came Thursday when I stopped by a friend’s house for a quick pick-up and we couldn’t be invited in because, ta-da, the oldest had just gotten back from the doctor due to PINK EYE – in both eyes! Again, this news wouldn’t bother me so much, but it’s pink eye; honestly, just hearing those two words together and my eyes begin to itch, ooze, and close up. That and we all had just visited and played together the day before that (outdoors, but still). Do I even remember if the kids shared food? Held hands? Hugged? Licked one another? I don’t think they did, but who knows, they’re kids! I’m especially bummed out for this family because this past weekend was chock full of fun activities that the mom had planned not just for her family to go and do but she’d invited our entire play group to join the fun on both occasions, and in the end they had to sit it all out, which is a total summer bummer for sure. In the meantime, I’ll be staring into T’s eyes relentlessly, and I hope for the next few days that I see nothing but the whites of his eyes.

And as the saying goes, things always seem to happen in threes, right? Yep, that’s right, and turns out this is no exception to the rule either. The same day I got the pink eye news a friend informed me that another friend of ours has been stuck home because her son was diagnosed with CHICKEN POX (a mild case, but still). Again, terrible news to hear as that means more sick kids down and out for days – and in the summertime, too – and again more friends of ours affected to boot (boo). Yet once again I began wracking my brain: Had T seen this child in the last 10-14 days (because that’s how long Chicken Pox takes to rear its ugly head)? The answer was, yes, yes he had. Both T and this boy play together at the Kids’ Club at the gym that our families belong, and I know we’d seen them at least once in the last two weeks, so T has potentially been exposed to this as well. Thankfully, T’s updated on his vaccines to date, but then again I heard this boy was up-to-date, too. Uh oh….

Of course, none of these potential exposures are anyone’s fault and I am not complaining. In fact, it’s amazing I don’t get this kind of news way more often than I do. My honest-to-goodness feeling is that it’s just the cost of doing business – kid business, that is. Kids are high-production germ factories: they play in close proximity together; they eat raisins off the floor of the grocery store (true story, and T said they were good, too); and they lick sand off their hands (and their friends’ hands) while lunching at the beach or playground. These types of illnesses are bound to happen, and happen often, so as much as it all sucks (and is so miserable for the kids), I just have to trust (even if I don’t always believe) that all of these episodes as nature’s special way of immunizing our littlest generation.

OK, off to inspect T again… fingers crossed we are still in the clear (times three)!