This week alone, I have read online about: hand, foot and mouth disease (a vile infection involving painful ulcers forming on tiny faces, inside mouths, on hands and feet and fingernails subsequently falling off), Meningitis killing a baby girl of only 15 months (in a disturbingly cruel twist she was also the 17th baby her Mother carried but the only one to survive outside the womb); scary chicken pox complications and the availability of a private vaccine, a child dying from ingesting a button battery after it silently ate it’s way through her organs; and finally, a terrifying condition called PANDAS which caused a family to lose about five years of their beautiful boy’s life to horrific OCD and behavioural issues, brought on by bacteria attacking his brain. It’s a wonder I can sleep at night. Actually, it’s not, I’m a stay at home Mum of two very lively daughters, but you know what I mean.
Social media is absolutely superb for raising awareness of symptoms of disease and I have no doubt countless lives have been saved through the sharing of tips on spotting early signs of potentially life threatening illnesses. It’s also utterly fantastic at scaring the shit out of me with the constant stream of stories about poorly kids, who always seem to be the same age as mine.
One morning this week, Willow woke up with a red mark near her mouth and it was only after I had frantically examined her hands and feet for ulcers and was maniacally demanding she say “AAAHH, no poppet, not ‘car’, AAAAAH!” that I realised the mark was the same size and shape as her dummy, which she’d probably just been laying on for twelve hours or so. I felt like a bit of an idiot but I’m pretty certain I’m not the only parent to have leapt into action based on a hunch, boosted by confidence from strangers living inside my phone and I’m also quite hopeful I’m not the only Mum around here whose Doctor regards her as a hypochondriac nutjob. It’s fine, in return I think he’s an insensitive prick who ought to realise without patients he’s be jobless, but we agree to just get along.
Parenting in general can be pretty frightening (I’m still not really sure how it’s possible little ol’ me is actually allowed responsibility for two tiny lives as well as my own), but the prospect of a seriously ill child is something else entirely. And so, we must be on our guard for illness symptoms at all times as we are the ones who must spot these things in time, make the right decisions and act accordingly. We are in charge. Not scary at all. Ahem.
In addition, we must also make sure to choose the correct car seat, not give them honey under one or nuts under five, chop their grapes in half, teach them to be aware of ‘tricky people’ without scaring the bejesus out of them, buy mostly organic and steer clear of processed food, make sure they don’t wear a coat in said car seat, make sure they DO wear a coat when it’s bloody freezing outside, make sure they always wear shoes at the playground (did anyone else see that poor girl’s blistered feet online this summer? OUCH), make sure they understand to keep their pants on, not climb on furniture (especially those Ikea drawers everyone was talking about a few months back), not to walk too close to open water and to look both ways before they cross the street.
All of this alongside raising them to be well-rounded individuals who don’t bully but do stand up for what they believe in, maintain a healthy weight, don’t do drugs, treat people with respect, act fairly and with kindness, practise safe sex, display excellent manners and look after the environment.
No pressure at all then, eh? *reaches for the organic gin*