07 July 2011

I DO like them, Sam I am!

I didn’t start this blog with the intention of making it all about ‘things that are hard for parents’. But I am a parent and it turns out that lots of things are hard in this role, and so tonight’s notes are again on the ‘tough stuff’ because we have again reached a milestone. And it’s another milestone that no-one but a parent (or perhaps a nurse or a Dr) really understands. So, what is it?
Drum roll please … Tonight our 2-year-old took medicine from a spoon … willingly …

There. One sentence is going to sort the ‘knowing’ from the ‘unknowing’. Because anyone who has tried to force medicine down a small person’s throat will, quite simply, understand that no longer having to force it is a momentous … err… moment.

The thing with medicine is that when your child needs it, they gotta have it. Back to the ‘choice’ thing! No matter how much they cry and then scream and then spit and snarl and struggle and, finally, run and try to hide at the very whiff of a child-resistant cap being twisted, they have to have it and you have to give it to them.

Our eldest is on the verge of turning 5. She is now actually jealous that our youngest had medicine tonight and she didn’t. Oh, how the wheel turns!!! That child was a monster. We tried … boy oh boy we tried. We tried EVERYTHING.

I have, at different times in the first 2 years of her life, found myself using a syringe to put medicine into a Just Juice box (the ‘she likes juice boxes and she can’t see the medicine’ theory). No good. I have mixed antibiotics with honey and made a sandwich with it (the ‘she adores honey and won’t notice the medicine’ theory). Failed. I have mixed it with ice cream. Nope. I have mixed it into a paste with drinking chocolate. Nope. I have mixed it with strawberry yoghurt. Nope. I have bribed her with chocolate. Nope. I have threatened. Nope. I have cajoled. Nope. I have tried cups, special spoons, tiny bottles with a special teat, big syringes, small syringes. I have tried it all and I have failed more times than I care to remember. I have had pamol vomited down my front. I have had painkillers and antibiotics spat in my eye. I have opened my mouth at the wrong time and had antibiotics spat into it. It is evidently possible to spit, scream AND keep your teeth tightly clenched closed at the same time. What I have not yet had is the police turn up at my door to find out who’s being tortured … and THAT I find the hardest to believe.

Eventually, I learned a hold from a pediatric nurse. You sit on the floor with their head between your thighs (the child, not the nurse). Almost from whence they came if you get my drift. You put their arms under your upper thighs and you put their legs under your lower legs. They literally cannot move (I hasten to add that they can still spit, just in case you were inspired to try this one). Then you syringe in the medicine bit by bit, and blow on their nose to force a swallow. However, I must add that they can choke a bit too cos they’re lying flat on their back. Still – it IS a good hold for putting eye medicine in, so don’t completely disregard it.

Two or three weeks ago, I had a mammoth show-down with my youngest. There was howling, there was screaming, there was struggling, there was sobbing (that was me), there was spitting, there was swearing (me again), there was antibiotics in the eye (yep, me again). There was giving up (me), there was running away. Eventually there was story-time followed by an enforced 2-3 mL followed by another story-time followed by 2-3 mL until finally we had 10 mL in the tummy of the one with the chest infection. I think we’d actually gone through 20 mL in the process. It took an hour. We were both exhausted and upset and stressed. There is little more heartbreaking than watching a very sick 2-year-old stand facing the wall (anything to avoid looking at you), while her thin little shoulders shudder and her head tips back to wail like an injured wolf because of something you are doing to her.

And then about 4 hours later, we had to do it all again. The wailing started … and then it stopped. She turned around, took out her dummy and opened her mouth. Accepted the syringe, swallowed the medicine like she’d been doing it all her life, popped her dummy back in and simply wandered away. Leaving me holding an empty syringe in one hand while the other hand collected my jaw up off the floor. What the …?? Did she just decide that the medicine didn’t taste that bad after all? Did she realize after fighting mummy for an hour the previous time that it was inevitable and I wasn’t going to give up so she may as well just do it? Was I being played? Was I (yet again) in the twilight zone (who are you and where is my child?!). Eventually I stopped trying to figure it out and danced a little happy jig and updated my Facebook status instead. Wahoo … took medicine like a lamb.

Tonight I said to her “I think you need some medicine tonight to make you feel better” (thinking, huh, yeah right). She simply said “yes, wiv a poon” (translated, that means “yes, with a spoon” – the nearly-five-year-old translated for me). Okayyyy, I thought – off a spoon huh – I’d like to see this one! So I duly got out a spoon, I measured the medicine, she opened her mouth, I put the spoon in, she swallowed the medicine, had a cuddle and was away to bed. Done. Zip. Sitting next to her later while she dozed off, I suddenly realized – I’m done! I very likely will never have to grit my teeth and force a syringe into a child’s mouth. It is entirely possible I will never again have pamol in my eye. We can quite probably throw away the syringes and just have a couple of spoons. Wow. My girls are growing up.

And best of all, I will never have to sit on the floor and cry like a baby because I just did any of the above to a screaming, sick, upset child.

It’s just occurred to me that Dr Seuss was probably a parent. Green Eggs and Ham, after all, is about Sam mercilessly chasing ‘the other one’ around, suggesting every way in the world to get him to try the aforementioned green eggs and ham. Finally, out of exhaustion, ‘the other one’ gives in and tastes it, and whaddya know? “I do! I do like green eggs and ham! Thank you, Sam I am!”


  1. You know - I never realized that about Green Eggs and HAm. Youre exactly right. Medicine for babes is misery. Child One was a strange child who liked ALL medicines. Even excitedly drank liters of gastrolyte and asked for more. Wanted meds, askd why he couldnt have more med. But then came child Two. And then began the trauma which has scarred me for life ( never mind about the child.) Yes, meds for babes is misery. Great post Anna!

  2. Yes, great post! It is amazing how physically strong a two-year-old can be, even when they are sick. I remember being taken to the doctor when I was little, and (being pathologically afraid of doctors) spitting and screaming and hiding under the examining table/ bed, until eventually both mum and the doctor gave up, saying 'I guess she can't be that sick after all'!! Scarred me for life, obviously!