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Loving and Loathing

1 August 2011

It’s been a tough week at our house.

My 2 year old has been sick with the flu, had a runny nose, a chesty cough, a high fever for 3 days… and not to mention a really shitty attitude.

His sleep has been disrupted. He’s been lethargic and floppy. He’s been losing weight and getting sicker and sicker by the day. He has been very miserable, and I have been cuddling him a lot, and GIVING IN TO HIM A LOT.

It’s kind of amazing and funny at the same time… that as a parent, when your child is sick, you find yourself suddenly filled with so much love and patience. So much more than you ever thought possible for yourself.

When you’re in that situation, you seem to have an overwhelming sense of strength, clarity and purpose, and yet helplessness and vulnerability too. You’d do anything to make your child better. Anything to keep them alive.

I guess in a way, it is an enriching experience.

But other than that…

Having a sick child is a fricking PAIN IN THE ASS.

Liam would go the whole day and refuse to drink anything. Complete, utter refusal.

First he wouldn’t drink any water or milk. So we started offering him other fluids like orange juice, then apple and blackcurrant cordial. He would sip and spit it out.

Heck we even went to the shops to buy him all the stuff that he loves, but he isn’t usually allowed, like – chocolate milk, a can of fizzy raspberry soft drink, a can of soya bean drink. He wouldn’t go near any of it.

I mean, how do you make a kid drink fluids?!? That is, without forcing it down his throat and choking him, otherwise known as the Chinese Aunty Torture method.

I remember my aunties would squeeze open the lips of children, flip their heads way back and pour medicinal drinks down their throats… until they were coughing and spluttering it all back out, through their noses… and it just makes a terrible mess all over their face and necks.

I personally don’t remember having that done to me, maybe we were all lined up and it happened to my cousins? Or my little sister? Then again, only one of us needed to go through that in order for the rest of us to get the message.

Anyway, I was getting really, really stressed and frustrated with my 2 year old.

For 2 days, we tried ignoring the whole situation and treating The Drinking Of Water like it was no big deal. Then we tried bribing, giving rewards, offering special treats, happy talk with lots of kisses and cuddles. Then we tried scolding, punishment, time-outs, and all that jazz.

The number of times he spat out everything we gave him, threw it all over the floor, threw a tantrum, threw furniture around, cried, screamed and flung his body around – it was countless. I was at my wit’s end.

Liam 2.5yo

Then (in this photo above) I casually handed Liam yet another cup of water. It must’ve been a good couple of hours since the last drink I offered him. And I was so nice to him in those hours. He sat on my lap. We played puzzles. We watched his favourite movie. We read books and I sang to him.

But he must’ve sense how tense I was about “the drinking of water”. He saw that my casual gesture was forced and desperate, and that in this battle of the wills, I was vulnerable.

Because instead of drinking it, he poured it down the front of his shirt.

And then he gave me those apologetic eyes. He was all squeaky and pleading, “I’m so sorry mummy. It was an accident.”

But it was SO NOT an accident.

I almost lost it. In that moment, I wanted him to be very, very far away from me. But I also felt so sorry for my poor, sick, miserable child.

I wanted to explode in a fit of frustration and anger, guilt and compassion.

(I took a photo of him instead.)

So. Yes. It is possible to feel equal amounts of love AND loathing. At the same time.

It’s crazy. But that’s parenting for you.