Eden had a sore throat last week, which meant we were up all night for a couple of nights, until -- alleluia -- I remembered benadryl existed. As I left the pediatrician's with a diagnosis of "a non-contagious virus that needs to run its course," I was struck by how quickly I want to fix sick.
It used to be that if a child was sick, she was sick. She stayed in bed. Soup arrived on a tray. She took lukewarm baths and held cool wash clothes on her forehead. She felt sick. Generally, when my kids are sick, I give them tylenol and usher them out the door. Or schlep them to the pediatrician for antibiotics. I like to say I use antibiotics sparingly, but in truth, we more often than not end up with them, and they always seem to work...
Today, Silas is complaining of a sore throat. (the non-contagious sore throat??? that we just invited friends over to play with???) My impulse, immediately, is to take him to the doctor. In fact I already called and scheduled an appointment. Watching myself, I am amazed by how hesitant I am to sit with the sick, even a viral sore throat that I *know* will run its course because Eden's just did. But the questions: what if it was strep? What if Eden's sore throat disappeared only to lodge in her ear as an underground infection? What if --
I think as well as not wanting a sleepless, whiny, sad sick child (and tired parent), I may also have an addiction to the pediatrician, which, after thinking about it, is rooted in answers. In parenting, I constantly swim through uncertainty -- have I damaged him forever because ___? Was ____the right way to respond to tantrum #6 of the morning? Should I let her decide ____? How can I be more patient??? So settling in next to a pediatrician who can peek into the depths, even the physical ones, of my children and give me a definitive answer feels like a gift. And a relief. A quick bright flash in the dark as I feel my way along.