It’s Just a Cough, Right?

My son’s friends came home with him after school today to hang out for a while.  As the boys tumbled through the door, divesting themselves of their jackets, backpacks and sneakers (no shoes in the house!!) I noticed that one of them was sporting a pretty nasty cough.

Normally I’m not paranoid about other kids’ coughs, sneezes, or runny noses – kids get sick, including my own –  I offer tissues and insist on hand washing to keep the germs at bay, and that’s usually enough to keep things under control.  But last week we got a notice from the school nurse that a case of whooping cough had been identified in the school, and in my son’s grade to boot.  I knew for sure that my son’s friend wasn’t the affected individual, but as soon as the boys were settled in I grabbed the notice and gave it another read.

I learned that whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes an uncontrollable, violent cough lasting several weeks or even months.  It can begin with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough that can progress to episodes of severe coughing.  It is spread from person to person by direct contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of infected individuals.   At that point a visual of microscopic droplets, pregnant with pertussis, being hacked into the air popped in to my head.   In my vivid imaginings I pictured those droplets landing on the Legos and Nerf guns the kids were playing with, and then making their way into their noses and throats. . .

That’s when I went to the laundry room and grabbed my can of Lysol disinfectant and started spraying.  Everything.  Even those stinky sneakers by the door.  The kids didn’t seem to notice.

I asked my son’s friend how long he’d been coughing and he replied that it’s been a few days now, “but it’s not that whooping cough”, he insisted “I just have a cold.”  I simply smiled and kept on spraying.

After the kids left, my son remarked that his coughing friend had been uncharacteristically cranky today.  I explained to him that he probably wasn’t feeling well, and then I called his mom to let her know that he’d been out of sorts and coughing quite a bit this afternoon.  She thanked me and assured me that it was nothing to worry about.   Was I being a little paranoid?  Perhaps,  but I told my son to wash his hands and face thoroughly and continued to Lysol all the Legos and Nerf guns. . .

Anatomy of a Playdate

I came home today to find my son’s cousins had come over to play for the afternoon. With my son suitably entertained for the time being and my husband on kid patrol, I comfortably settled in at my desk with a cup of hazelnut coffee and a croissant slathered in Nutella (what else?) and topped with apricot preserves, door tightly shut (should I lock it?), hoping to get some work done. My husband is supposed to be keeping the kids from killing each other watching the kids but I can hear that they are just about to begin a sword battle and I know that no good can come of this.  When it’s two 11 year olds against a 7 year old (or is it the other way around?) there’s bound to be bloodshed, or tears at least.

“Ow, that hurts!” I hear one of them cry out, I can’t tell which one.  I don’t hear my husband.  I hear the playing continue.  I hear a little body slamming, some running, jumping, banging, yelping and more sword clanging.  Still no husband.   I wonder if he’s fallen asleep on the couch.  I refuse to get up and check to see what’s going on.  I refuse to let my coffee get cold, and I’ve only eaten half my croissant.

I sit and listen, trying to discern whose voice is whose.  I hear some yelling, but can’t really make out what they’re saying. . . Uh  oh.  Now it’s quiet.  Too quiet.  I start to push back my chair. . .

Now they’re laughing.  Laughing is good, right?  Unless they’ve found something inappropriate on the internet (is that why they were so quiet?) and are now cackling hysterically over something that’s really funny or that they don’t understand – or both.

Good.  The sword clanging has resumed.  “I’m not kidding!  Stop!  Stop it!!” one of them bellows.  Still no reaction from my husband.  For goodness’ sake, what is he doing????

I am not getting up.  I can hear feet scurrying.  I hear rapid clicking sounds.  I wonder if my husband’s still in the house.

I take a sip of my coffee – still warm.  And then the crying begins.

It’s the 7 year old.  From what I gather about the melee occurring outside my door, he got pelted between the eyes with a Nerf gun bullet and didn’t like it.  When I came home I noticed at least five Nerf guns out and enough ammo to take out a small (Lego) village, with the younger one sporting multiple weapons, dispatching foam balls and bullets at the hapless two older kids.  Turnabout is fair play, little man.

“All right guys, that’s it!” I hear my husband parenting (finally!)  He tells one of the kids to put down the shield (?) and for everybody to sit down and watch TV.

It’s quiet again.

I polish off my croissant.  The doorbell rings – it’s the boys’ dad come to pick them up.  I can hear them all talking and saying goodbye.  I don’t move.  I finish this post.  And my coffee.

Photos courtesy of Google Images and Mom Meets Blog