Andrew and I make a great team. One of us holds down Mad Max’s flailing limbs while the other one squirts pretty, pink antibiotics into his mouth.

“Here ya go, buddy, take the yummy medicine and make your ears allllll better.”

WHOOF! He smacks the syringe out of my hand with a jerk of frustration. We both silently hold one another’s gaze for a moment. He knows he’s done something bad. He knows the wrath of Mother Ginger is coming.

“Okay, that’s it ya little bugger, open up.”

I snatch the syringe out of the dog’s mouth.

Legs kick, arms punch the air, copper curls swirl with pint-sized insanity.

“Daddy!” I call in the reinforcements.

“Holy crap, he’s squirmy.”

“And strong! Hurry up and get it in there.”

“He’s fighting me with his tongue.”

“Ouch, he bit me!”


“Okay, five mills, we’re done.”

“Now, see, that wasn’t so bad, was it buddy?”

The wild billy goat is free. Tears dry up instantly. Peace resumes. “High five, honey!” Meet you here in four hours for another rumble with the rascal.

Oddly, Max has not yet discovered that he could actually spit the medicine out instead of swallowing it. Kids are so dumb.

Sometimes he takes the syringe and drinks it like it’s liquid candy; mmmmm, bubble gum. But if he’s not in the mood, he’ll flick that gadget at your retina quicker than you can say penicillin. Hence the need for force. We’ll traumatize him with our aggressive methods, but hey, at least his ears will work.

I used to inwardly judge people whose kids were always sick. I mean clearly it was because their kids ate nothing but wieners and chicken nuggets, or because their house was filthy rotten dirty. But now I see the snot-nosed truth. Every kid is a cesspool of disease and infestation. A towering kettle of snot ready to explode at any given moment. The reason the Kleenex people are filthy stinkin’ rich.

Max is a pretty healthy boy. When he gets sick, he’s tough about it. Even with boogers flying, he’s still motorin’. And wiping his nose-goo into the couch. But he has had a few ailments since I went back to work, when I released him into the big, scary world beyond my ample bosom. (Okay it’s not so ample anymore, but it felt right so I said it.)

He has rocked the pinkeye with style.

He has sported a polka-dot rash on his belly. The doctor took one look and said, “roseola”. I was confused; he doesn’t even eat Chef-Boyardee.

Recently, he had the croup with that distinct seal-like bark – a sound so startling, I caught sight of someone lurking in the bushes outside the house wielding a club and a thirst for blood in the snow.

And now he has an ear infection for which he is getting his first (but surely not his last) dose of antibiotics.

I’d like to think I’m keeping my boy as germ-free as possible. He loves broccoli, brussel sprouts, and fish – good immunity-boosting foods, I reckon.

(Brussel sprouts: world's most exciting meal.)
(There's more than one way to eat corn, missus.)

I mean sure he has his treats, and the occasional heaping pile of good ol’ Kraft Dinner. And seriously, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t let him lick the beaters? It’s a rite of passage, mandatory in my books.

(zombie beater-lickin' baby)

I blow the dirt off the fork when it hits the floor; if there’s a sink or a wet rag nearby, I might even rinse it off. I dress him nice and warm so he doesn’t catch a chill. And I try and keep him away from other kids who are snottin’ and barkin’ and spreading their cooties. Which is virtually impossible, because there is always at least one kid in the room who is clearly an expert in boogerology. I once saw a little girl with her hair stuck to her face on both sides – with what one might call homemade glue. I almost tossed my cookies.

(attack on poppy murphy's birthday cake)

I can’t keep my mini in a bubble. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. He needs to be around people, even other little three-foot pillars of phlegm. Besides, not all germs are bad. Yogurt is bacteria! So there. And some bacteria found in our ears and mouths actually protect us from invading pathogens.

Colds and ear infections and this-ola and that-itis… It’s all a part of childhood. Nature’s way of armouring our little soldiers for life. We just do the best we can to keep them healthy, roll with the punches, and thank Lady Luck for sparing us from anything worse (and bribe her with our souls to keep it that way.)

Note: I used the word snot too many times in this post. Turns out there are snot a lot of synonyms for snot.