Monday, January 14, 2013

Surviving Flu and Cold Season and Foolproof Winner!

Here's a little something I wrote and sent to a couple of places for publication and was met with either outright rejection or tumbleweeds. So, now I'm making like the gutter girl of the internet and giving it away for free! 

According to the weekly influenza summary map on the CDC website, the flu was widespread in 43 of the 50 states during the last week of 2012. At this time of year we all try to take precautions to avoid getting sick. But even if you get the flu shot, wash your hands often, and stay away from people who are obviously ill, sometimes there is no way to avoid germs. This is especially true if you have children who do things that no amount of hand sanitizer can counteract.

I first noticed that children are inescapably drawn to germy things before I even had children of my own. One winter afternoon I was waiting for the New York City subway. The only other passengers on the platform were a mother and her son. The little boy, who looked about four years old, was running his hands up and down one of the pillars, feeling the texture of the paint. “Stop touching everything. You’ll get germs!” his mother reprimanded. The boy stopped touching the pillar, looked her dead in the eye and then licked the pole that he’d just been touching.

Trying to keep my own children germ-free has been challenging, at best. My two oldest children are only 20 months apart in age, and I quickly realized after my son was born that keeping an infant from getting contaminated when you have a toddler is an impossible mission. When my son was about a month old I secured him in a bouncy seat placed on the bathroom floor right so that I could take a much-needed shower. After I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair, he was still so placid and quiet that I peeked out of the shower curtain to make sure he was still breathing. I saw that my daughter, who was almost two years old, had snuck into the bathroom and was gently and carefully brushing her brother’s hair with our toilet brush. After I got over my initial horror, I was almost impressed that she managed to find the single dirtiest thing in the house to rub all over her immune system-free brother.

I believe this is a "Make Way for Noddy" toilet brush.

My children are now older and I’ve found that they don’t get sick quite as often as they did when they were all in preschool and early elementary school, but we still wracked up an impressive list of illnesses in the final month of 2012 including strep, colds, coughs, ear infections, eye infections, and a stomach virus. Interestingly, my son managed to stay well, despite the fact that both his sisters were sick. Even though I was very glad that he didn’t catch anything, it almost seemed unfair that he escaped illness, since I caught him numerous times drinking from the juice glasses that the girls left out on the coffee table.

I’ve tried to be vigilant about hand washing so we could start 2013 illness-free. No one has been sick yet, but that’s not for lack of trying. At my oldest daughter’s most recent basketball game, my son and younger daughter were entertaining themselves climbing on the bleachers while I watched the game. It was only during half time that I realized that they had been busily picking discarded chewing gum off the bottom of the bleacher seats. The only positive thing to note is that neither of them actually ingested any of the already-been-chewed gum.

Later, when we left the game, the two younger children ran ahead and arrived at the car before the rest of the group. When we all got to the car, my son and younger daughter were urging their older sister to open the car door with huge mischievous grins on their faces. When I opened the door instead, they both shouted with glee, “You’ve got the spit touch, Mom!” They had both licked the door handle.

The bad news: there is no approved vaccine for the spit touch. The good news: the seasonal flu season rarely lasts past May.

Congratulations to the winner of the Foolproof giveaway, Virginia

This is absolutely what I expected to happen as Virginia is the only one who entered the contest who doesn't live in my neighborhood. Virginia, I will dispatch my Vice President in Charge of Mailing Things (aka the K) to post your new book from his office. If you didn't win the contest and still want the book, it is available at One King's Lane today for $23. Or, if you want it sooner and for less money, it's available on Amazon for the strange price of $20.37. 


  1. Did you try any of the Boston papers? The mayor declared a public health emergency with announcements on subway loud speakers.

    Gum is a topic of comment on my blog today.

  2. I love the toilet brush/hair brush story!

    1. If you remember, B had a lot of hair when he was born. I think she was just trying to groom him.

  3. I nearly died about the toilet bowl brush! And I think it"s bad when my 3 year old rubs her lovey - which she uses to wipe her nose - all over her baby sister.

    1. Oh it's all bad! I remember when I took him to his next doctor's appointment and they let me go in the all-infant room away from the germy children, it was just like, why bother??

  4. Keeping an infant from being contaminated, especially when you have a toddler, is indeed a mission impossible. I could only imagine your terror with the ‘toilet-hairbrush’ story and the ‘spit touch’ experience. Good thing you were cautious of them washing their hands; that’s one tough defense against colds and flu.

    Logan Rojas

  5. We should work on strengthening our immune system not only during the flu season, but all year round. Aside from getting a flu shot, good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle should be developed. Also, keep your surroundings clean to make insects go away.

    -Tyrone Vanwagoner @ USHealthWorks (Redmond-Center)