Sick!Posted: January 8, 2013
A question I get very often when people hear that I’m a nanny is, “Do you do diapers(insert disgusted nose wrinkle)?” to which I amusedly reply that, yes, I do “do diapers”. Oh, if only they knew. I’ve changed the worst diapers imaginable, though at times in the life of a Supernanny, diapers are the least of my worries. I usually concentrate the majority of my time and energy on making sure the kiddos are having fun, cared for properly, learning, and behaving well. It takes a lot of energy to make sure all of these stars align, even in the best kiddos’ homes. However, when an ailment is afoot, then my skills, sanity, and stomach are often put to the test.
I don’t know how many times Big Cat and Mr. Man got colds the first two years I was their nanny. All I do know is that one of the two sneezed in my face, coughed in my ear, or snotted on my chest/shoulder at least twice per day on said sick days. I learned a trick from their pediatrician: when I felt their breath on my face I immediately exhaled to keep their germs at bay without having to distance myself from them. You always hear it said, that “when it’s your child, you won’t think stuff is gross.” Having no kiddos of my own yet, I couldn’t tell you if that’s true. But when they’re your nannying charges, you think it’s gross, but you love and pity them too much to let it get to you. Writing this post I think back to Mr. Man using a breathing treatment machine, and looking so pitiful, all blue eyes above the inhaler, and Boss Lady whose energy is only ever at half mast when she’s feeling sickly, or Rebel, who when he has a runny nose will rub his face so raw I have to slather him with Aquaphor before naps and bedtime to replenish his skin.
This immunity to disgust at the sickness of my charges could not be better illustrated than by an episode a few years back. I went to pick up Big Cat and Mr. Man from school, just like any other day, though on this day I immediately noticed Big Cat looked a tad…green. I took a knee and asked him if he was ok, and before he could get a syllable out he threw up all over my outstretched hands. For a reason I cannot fathom− call it instinct, or stupidity− I cupped my hands together and let him keep on spewing. Better in my hands than on his clothes. I knew there was a pillowcase in the car, so in between heaves I grabbed it to catch what little could be left in his stomach, only to find that there was a hole in the bottom of the pillowcase, and the puke went all over my flip flopped feet. I told the boys to stay right by the car with a teacher as I ran in the school and quickly washed my hands, wiped chunks off my feet, grabbed paper towels, and tried to keep from vomiting myself. I returned with a wet paper towel for Big Cat’s head, and asked him if he thought he could make the drive home without yorking. He wasn’t sure, but I felt it was more important to get him home, in bed, near a toilet, than to continue making a sick scene in front of his classmates, which he might be embarrassed about. Best not to add humiliation to hurling. On the what seemed endless drive home, he threw up a few more times, into a plastic bag, missing only once, but getting himself pretty gross all in all. Mr. Man had been good as gold, quiet as a mouse, and pale as a ghost throughout the whole debacle. Once home, Big Cat went straight in the bath, then went to sleep, and I set my sights on getting myself de-barfed.
Once the kiddos are deemed “sick”, I go into Nurse Cheryl mode, a role I know well from my days tending to my younger brother Buddy growing up. Whenever Buddy would get sick, my mama would set him up on the couch with a pillow and quilt, and I would get one of the little porcelain bells we used at Christmastime, and would have him ring it whenever he needed something, whether it be more ice in his ginger ale, a channel/video change, or help getting to his bed/bathroom−whatever he needed. I do the same for any sick charges, setting them up where I can keep constant watch on them, and keeping them within close range of necessities. When in a contained situation, I can create comfort even in the midst of infirmity.
It’s when the sickness comes out of nowhere that my nerves frazzle, and it takes a lot of Supernanny self-soothing for a cool head to prevail. One day Doc kept insisting that it was too cold to go outside. As it was in the low 90s I knew this couldn’t possibly be true, and I thought he was being silly or contrary. But, knowing what I know about Doc I decided after his fourth protestation to going out of doors, to ask a few more questions, see what I could uncover.
Miss Cheryl: “Is it warmer inside than outside?”
(This was most definitely not accurate as the thermostat inside was at 75°, and outside was much warmer. What was inside that could be warmer than outside…blankets on the couch where he had been sitting when I arrived? But why would he need blankets even at 75°?)
So, just in case I checked his temperature. It was 102.3! My eyes were probably the size of saucers when it gauged his fever, but keeping my cool, I brought Rebel inside, set Doc up on the couch, fetched him an ice water, and texted his mama for further instructions. This instance of sick, though surprising, was mild in comparison to one witnessed recently with Captain Awesome. I was taking care of Princess and Captain Awesome for the day, and arriving that morning had noticed he had a bit of a cough. His folks had briefed me that both the kiddos were having bad allergies that week, and as many kiddos in Austin are victims of Cedar Fever and various other allergic reactions, ranging from aggravating to annoying, I didn’t think much of it. I was just getting him some breakfast when he threw up all over the table he and Princess were sitting at. All over the table, the floor, and himself. Whatever I was holding, I dropped, scooped him up and headed straight for the bathtub. I asked Princess to please come stay with me in the bathroom while I cleaned him up, she obliged sweetly, and really Captain Awesome did not seem the least bit rattled by his ralphing. He gabbed all through his bath, giggled when I put on clean clothes, I was confused at how calm they both were during what, in my mind, was quite a catastrophe. Upon calling their folks I found out that Captain Awesome has a propensity toward vomiting when he is coughing a lot, the result of a sensitive gag reflex. Relieved that it was not the flu, and nothing too unusual, I set about cleaning up Captain Awesome, and the kitchen, and making sure he toted around a Tupperware for throwing up in, just in case. I made sure to add a note to my Captain Awesome file: “prone to vomiting”.
It’s easy to love kiddos when they are well-behaved and, well, well. But it takes a Supernanny with special bonds with the kiddos to bring sunshine to them when they’re under the weather, and not get sick at the sight of theirs.