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Caring for Your Sick Child


One of the most difficult things that we can do as fathers is try balance family and work responsibilities and not have one suffer for the sake of the other.   Many of us guys feel like just going to work is enough to fulfill our family responsibilities.  Meaning, supporting our family financially is all we really need to do.  We sometimes think this even when our co-parent also works full time.  This paradigm is obviously flawed.  If you are listening to me right now then youíve joined me, and thousands of other dads, in taking on the challenge of moving toward being better fathers, which in part means changing how we think and shifting our negative paradigms.  I do this little show to help encourage fathers to stay healthy and participate more actively in the lives of their children, and I also do this for myself because I can be a lazy parent sometimes and I sometimes need a kick in the pants.  I believe whole heartedly that we can change our own thinking and maybe even the way fathers are perceived buy society in general.  But I canít do it alone, so I thank you dedicated daddies for joining me.

      Letís move on

In my opinion one of the best ways to bond with your child is to volunteer to stay home with her when sheís sick with an ear infection, a cold, or if youíre really ambitious the flu.  I know that the idea of caring for a sick child being a good thing can be difficult to grasp, so bear with me.  Now, I get that there are a lot of negatives to staying home.  To start with you have to use either a personal day, a vacation day, or a full day of pay.  These things, especially the cash, are difficult to part with, so use your judgment as to its feasibility and timing.  Then thereís the fact that if you stay home with a sick kid you run the very real risk of getting sick yourself.  Iíll be the first to tell you that itís not fun to have to deal with all the stuff that comes along with being away from work for a few days because you have a cold.  Trust me. Having to play catch up on a project, missing a deadline, or leaving your staff unsupervised are all very much possible.  Then there is the reality that there may be no other care options and everything I just said is irrelevant. Nevertheless, I still think staying home with your sick child is a good thing because believe it or not the positives outweigh the negatives.       


Recently I took the day off to care for Devin, my two year old son.  I felt kind of obligated to do it being that the previous day his mother left work early, picked the kid up from daycare, took him to the pediatrician, went and got his prescription filled, all before I got home from work and all with the sick baby in tow.  So I volunteered to hold down the fort the next day.  Iíve stayed home with him when he was sick in the past, back when he was younger and easier to manage, and I went into it thinking itíd be like the good olí days when heíd sleep all afternoon and sit quietly on my lap when he was awake.  I figured I could get in a little All My Children and maybe some General Hospital and all Iíd have to do is make sure that the juice and toast flowed.  As it turned out, caring for the sick two year old toddler version of Devin was waaaaay different than caring for the pre-terrible twos Devin.


First of all, his 101 fever seemed to energize him.   He was like that character from the Fantastic Four, the one they call the Human Torch Ė just fired up, almost literally.  He didnít want to sit down, anywhere, not on my lap, not on the sofa, not in his booster chair.  He was determined to play with his toys and he coerced me into a couple of games of hide and seek.  I tried to remind him that he had a fever and an ear infection, but he acted like he didnít know what I was talking about and he kept on trying to enjoy his time away from daycare.  The only problem was that Devin was also simultaneously cranky.  So in between the 2,632 books he insisted I read and a few hundred games of imaginary bus, he had several emotional meltdowns.  OK, they were tantrums.  When your kid is sick you may find it hard to be a disciplinarian as I did.  I was all prepared to be a loving nurturing father, yet the kid had no interest in allowing me to do that.  He wanted to play and argue and boss me around.  With his face encrusted in a snot mask, and a scowl across his face, he pushed me over to the DVD player and insisted on Dragon Tales over Elmo, he slid down the back of our leather sofa and kicked me in the back telling me to get him some milk, and threw the a book at me and told me to read it.   When I didnít hop to reading the book fast enough, and opted to look at him like he was crazy instead, he kicked me.  Thatís when I realized that he needed a nap.  I gave him a dose a cough syrup, which he promptly spat in my face, and then he lay down and fell soundly asleep.


When Devin woke up he was in a much better mood.  He ate a little something and we had a few civilized interactions while watching TV and reading.  His fever broke as he slept, and with it his mean streak.  On that particular day there was construction going on outside our apartment window so I took the opportunity to teach him about the different types of equipment, which always fascinates him.  He learned about dump trucks, bulldozers, back hoes, cement mixers and other construction equipment.  He also belted out the colors of each vehicle and waved goodbye when one of them left the construction site.  Him being adorable and rested helped me get back to being the dad I wanted to be that day.  He even gave me a random unsolicited hug.  He smeared snot on my jeans in the process, but it was worth it.  Kids are moody and unpredictable and we love them in spite of it.


I want to back track for a second.  Earlier I mentioned the flu, and I wanted to remind you that the flu vaccine is an option and is recommended for small children.  You should consult with your physician about the possibility of getting the vaccine for your child.  Your doctor will take into consideration certain risk factors like age and an asthma diagnosis among other things. 


Wasnít I supposed to be telling you about the positives of caring for a sick child?  Well, after mulling over everything I just mentioned I think you can figure out the important ones.  However I have one that may not be on your radar and here it is:  If you are very, very, very lucky your co-parent will think you are amazing, dedicated, nurturing, and in turn may be willing to pay you for your services in creative ways. 


Or he or she may just think you were doing your job and all youíll end up with is a statement like:  ďSo youíve been home all day and you didnít even make the bed.  I guess Iíll do it.Ē  Regardless of the outcome, staying home with your kid and your kid being in one piece at the end of the day is a win for fathers everywhere.     

Last updated December 2005

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