The Texture Of Things

Dear Tot,

November 16th, 2006

Before you were born, even while I was pregnant with you, I didn’t understand why parents of small children were always sick. I mean, I wasn’t going to get sick with everything you ever caught because I had already had a bunch of colds in my life, so I should have some immunities, and I was going to wash my hands a lot. Didn’t these other parents think to wash their hands a lot when their child was sick? Um, ew. Clearly, I needed to rethink having dinner at their houses, right?

Wrong. They are certainly washing their hands and their children’s hands, because I am, and I have still caught your pestilence.

But the pre-baby me is screaming in my head: “How?! How could this happen?!” Exclamation point!

I have some hypotheses.

1. Tot, you like to play in my bed, “the big bed,” and I think you wiped your germy face on my pillow. So, washing hands isn’t enough – I’ve also got to limit your access to certain areas of the house when you’re sick.

2. Tot, I know we are all overwhelmed by a sneeze or two in our lifetimes, but did you need to ah-choo it into my face the day before yesterday? So, clearly I need to teach you more about living a kind and thoughtful life even while sick. Here’s a pointer – although I routinely encourage you to share or take turns, this does not apply to illnesses. I wipe your nose because it’s my job, not because I actually want someone else’s snot on or near my own hands. I do it because I love you.

Also, the next time you suddenly find yourself sneezing unexpectedly, please point it down toward the ground. Do not look up for help. The bogies don’t run down your face for at least a minute after you sneeze. We’ll wipe them up then.

But, tot, I don’t want you to feel like this letter is all negativity aimed at you. You are, after all, only 2.5. It’s my job to teach you, so I should expect these things.

Today, however, I learned something from you, and that is that you are one tough kid. Seriously, I’m impressed. Throughout this cold, you’ve been pretty good natured. You’re not your usual bubbly Tot-ness, but you have energy, you are mostly happy, and you are still climbing over everything you encounter, including my body. The cold has not slowed you down much, but I am only several hours into it and I can see that it is probably going to stop me in my tracks. Full stop.

It’s an especially timely lesson too, as I was just complaining inwardly about my students. I actually thought, “Now I know why people say ‘Youth is wasted on the young.'” It might be wasted on college punks, but my dear tot, you are not wasting it. You are using it to plow ahead through your day, paying little heed to the pounding pressure of snot in your head.

You are amazing, little girl. Truly amazing.

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