I have a vivid childhood memory of being held down on my dining room table by my parents' friends at a party. I was wriggling around, staring up at the light, feeling trapped and confused. My panic ended and arms released immediately after my mother came over, held my nose and shoved a disgusting tasting liquid in my mouth. I recall this memory with anger, often wondering why my mother couldn't have come up with a more creative and less abrasive way to administer medicine. When my daughter was born I vowed to never do this to her. I was confident I'd come up with ways to make it fun and introduce chasers of ice cream and peanut butter. I now recognize my naivety in underestimating the strength and will of a child.
We have been lucky it took 18 months for our daughter to get sick with the need of medication. There has never been anything more than a 24 hour cold in her system while friends' kids have had virus after virus. But alas, she has caught the croup and for the past week our routine and rule book have been tossed out.
Our couch has been covered in more mucus and food than the manufacturers could have ever imagined. Our necks and backs ache from sleeping uncomfortably in our bed, the couch, and the recliner to accommodate a cranky toddler who doesn't want to sleep alone or horizontally.
I've made a pathetic attempt to get her to take a bath by getting in myself. Showing her how much fun it is to play with Mickey who is clearly not waterproof, only to have her kick and scream while trying to wash the snot clump out of her hair. Exhausted my husband later cut out said snot clump with a scissor since the shampoo did nothing.
At one point there was vomit everywhere. On the rug, in the garbage, all over my unwashed dishes in the sink when I thought I was being smart and held her over my shoulder to avoid more mess. After throwing up on both of our shirts my husband and I tore them off, walking around topless while we tended to her. We eyed each other, noting the complete non-sexiness of the moment.
We tried to give her anything she pointed to and became increasingly frustrated when she wanted everything and nothing at the same time. We took video of her when she was so out of it she talked gibberish and looked drunk.
Despite all this, the most difficult challenge wasn't washing vomit out of a rug. It was trying to give her the small amount of medicine she needed.
Attempt number one was on the changing pad. I tried to use the syringe as she was crying, mouth open, during a diaper change. Dumb move. She spit it all out, got upset and left me wondering if she took in any medicine at all. Second and third attempts resulted in many hand swatting and a strained "Noooooooo." I'd approach her with the medicine in hand and she'd run like the blonde girl in a horror movie, looking back every few feet to see if I still wanted to murder her.
We tried giving it to her in a spoon, in a cup, in a cup with a straw, in the bottle, in the sippy cup. Mickey took a sip, Mommy, Daddy, our neighbor, Elmo, a picture of Grandma. Nothing worked and so much was spilled I wanted to dip into her piggy bank and take back the prescription co-pay. I looked up techniques online, drawing the line at the woman who claimed she does a "fun, silly" dance that leaves her daughter in stitches wanting nothing more than to drink her medicine to view an encore.
I was about to give up when I read the line " you have to be confident that the medicine is going to help her." I knew part of my problem was not wanting to psychology scar her and while I believed the medicine would help I couldn't bring myself to force her to take it in an effective way. My confidence in this being what is good for her despite her rebellion wavered. I knew this was another challenge as all the hard things I have faced as a parent are more my issues than anything else.
So I again filled up the syringe, put on a pained Chandler Bing smile, and approached my daughter as she sat with my husband on the couch. I told him to hold her tight though she quickly realized this wasn't a bear hug. I could see her confusion, her trust in us fading, as I squeezed her cheeks and inserted the syringe. She coughed and swallowed. We did this a few times until I said "All done." She had a look on her face that said, "Oh, that was it?" I kissed her on the cheek and told her I was sorry, that I had to give her medicine and I hated doing it this way but hoped we could still be friends.
As I walked away she said "I sorry," and continued watching her show and snuggling with Daddy. I laughed thinking of my mother and said, "Me, too."