Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Preschool as disease vector

We were warned. "Beware preschool, folks... after your kid gets there, you'll all be sick for weeks," the voices said, in many places, at many times, throughout our wishing-for-parenthood past. And like a murmuring gang of prophets, those voices have indeed spoken wisdom.

Here we are, a mere two visits and one "official" half-day into our son's preschool experience, and two out of three of us are down for the count. And unfortunately, one of the victims is me.

It started innocuously; a little girl coughing four or five times during our son's first preschool visit. But what a cough... she sounded like she'd started unfiltered Camels shortly after birth and had no interest in a Nicoderm nuk. The next day, we worried as our little boy built a hack of his own, gaining visual confirmation when he revealed a seriously booger-blocked nostril.

So, our boy spent a good chunk of last week imitating our older cat Miss Kitty, who transforms the hacking-up of hairballs into performance art. The good news is -- a few days and one inhaler later -- Boy seems on the road to recovery, and has since returned to his preschool and spends half-days with the other germ vectors building superbugs. But since his favorite place to nap is on me while I hit the Barcolounger, and since he interrupted at least one such nap with any number of hacks, coughs and flat-out sneezes five inches from my face, I got a concentrated dose of whatever bug he picked up.

Thanks to an apparently short incubation period, as of tonight I'm up to Day Six of "Crud 2007" and counting, with my formerly blocked breathing passages now exchanged for a cough wetter than a summer on Kauai. Robitussin is still my friend, but with its effectiveness declining I have a feeling we'll shortly be off speaking terms. And should wishes be granted this evening, I'd trade my proverbial "lottery win" pipe dream for a decongestant that won't keep me awake all night. Last Saturday? One Drixoral, advertised as a "non-drowsy cold medicine," and I spent the entire night wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling. High octane, that stuff. And not worth the sleeplessness.

But there's always hope for me in the form of massive orange juice doses. And The Boy did have fun at preschool, without any of the stereotypical wailing and teeth-gnashing so many parents speak of. He liked it so much that, when he saw I'd arrived to take him home after his first "official" day, he took his teacher's hand, led her to the far end of the playground, and said "See ya later, Dada."

So much for Dad. Infected and abandoned, apparently.

I did manage to retrieve him after a short chase. And once he was in my arms, I encouraged him to tell his newfound germ-source friends "bye-bye," at least until next week.

"Bye-bye, friends," The Boy said wistfully. "See ya next week," he added, waving.

"Bye-bye, B------n," four toddlers said, also waving.

Whoa. Wait a minute. Did those four toddlers just call him by name? And these are all two-year-olds? Did he make friends that quickly?

I'm impressed. Maybe this dose of The Crud will be worth it after all.

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