Kids Are Gross
The first Big Bad Cold of the winter is storming the daycare. Now, colds are colds are colds. Though I have a sick policy, it doesn’t include colds. If a parent stayed home with their child for every cold of those first few years, they’d be out of a job, fast. So. Sniffly, snotty, sneezy, coughy kids can come. (Huh. Three more and I’d have the Seven Dwarves. Hacky, Wheezy, and Whiny, perhaps?)
I have some discretion with this, of course. If there’s a fever of more than a degree or so, they stay home. If the child just isn’t capable of coping with daycare, they stay home. Those, however, are the exceptions. For the most part, they come. Coughing, sniffling and sneezing, they come.
Of the six children who attend throughout the week, let’s see … Rosie, Josh, and Jazz have it, in spades. Grace is snotty, but Grace is so often snotty, poor mite, it’s hard to know if this is the cold, or just the allergies I suspect she must have. (Not so “poor” from Grace’s perspective, mind you: the snottiness doesn’t bother her at all. Though she does routinely — and increasingly — ask to have her nose wiped, Grace, as I was saying to Hannah only yesterday, also views snot as the sixth food group. Mmmmm, salty goodness.) Daniel has it, mildly. And Poppy, bless her hardly immune system, has not succumbed.
But oh, the snot. SNOT. Snot. Snot abounds. This is a cold which inflicts inordinate, extraordinary amounts of snot on its victims. There is a cough, a dry one, but it’s intermittent, and (hallelujah!) is not interfering with their ability to sleep. There’s no sneezing. But the snot?
Gallons of the stuff. Thick, yellow, and copious. How one tiny nose, attached to, one assumes, a set of equally scaled-down sinuses, can produce that much mucous is one of nature’s little mysteries.
Yesterday poor Rosie was the hardest hit. Poor petit, 14-month-old, red-headed Rosie. She took a morning nap yesterday. Rosie does not normally nap in the morning these days, but her fatigue was profound. This thing has, in the words of my grandfather, “really knocked the stuffing right out of her.” She slept for a solid 90 minutes, and when I retrieved her?
Her nose was trailing butter yellow ribbons, viscous and glistening. Her cheeks were shiny with the snot which had dried after she’d smeared it there. Shiny, and, if you pressed into a shiny spot, it actually crackled. I swear. Her eyes were seeping equally yellow goop, and thus her eyelashes were well-crusted. (The eye goop likely the result of irritation caused by the snot she’d rubbed into them.) Her hair! Her delicate wisps of cinnamon-red hair … were stiff and prickly with dried snot. The backs of her hands slimy with the stuff. Ew.
I felt like the Grinch, contemplating Christmas in Whoville: “Oh, the snot! Oh the snot, snot, snot, snot!”
This was going to require a Major Cleaning Operation. Whoop-de-doo.
We all know how year-old(ish) babies love Major Cleaning Operations, particularly of their face. Gah. However, I have a system, and it’s pretty effective. It doesn’t stop the struggling, but it minimizes its effectiveness. Want to know?
Mary’s Method for Cleaning Snotty and Unco-operative Faces
1. Gather supplies. (Warm, wet facecloth and crusted, disgusting child.)
2. Sit down. A nice deep armchair is good, but for particularly writhesome children, you might opt to sit on the floor.
3. Place child on your lap, facing out. Their back is against your tummy. No, you cannot see their whole face, but you know where it is, right? And you know that it is covered, IN ITS ENTIRETY, with snot. So how precise do you need to be, here? You can certainly find the nose by feel.
4. This is the important step. With one hand, grab both the child’s wrists, bend his/her arms up at the elbow, and pin their wrists to their chest. Pull the child tight to your chest.
See? You’ve effectively immobilized them. Their hands are out of action, and they can’t run away, they can’t kick, their torso is trapped. Yes, they can still thrash their head around — and they will!! — but when you are holding the washcloth over their face, that suddenly becomes helpful. They are scrubbing their own face.
Stay calm and get ‘er done. Despite the noise, the child can’t escape, so if you need to hold the cloth to a particularly stubborn spot to soften it up, you can do that.
Now, I don’t torture the kids. I can have that child in my lap, scrubbed over, and down again in less than twenty seconds. I’m after improvement, not perfection. But if you need more time, you’re in a position to take it.
Once in a while, the unexpected does happen. If the child is tall and you are short, BE CAREFUL! I had a client whose son (while sitting on her lap for a story) actually broke her nose when he flung his little self back in a fit of enthusiasm for the excitement of Bob the Builder Digs a Hole. The back of his head made bone-breaking contact with the bridge of her nose. Broken nose and two black eyes, poor woman, inflicted on her by her happy (and solid) toddler.
I am not short. (I am not tall, either, just not short.) Rosie is teeeeny. I was in no danger of that.
Rosie is teeny. Her head is teeny, her torso is teeny.
Her wrists are teeny.
They were also, at the time, snot-smeared and slippery.
You can see where this is leading, can’t you? One teeny, slippery, snot-smeared fist eluded my grasp and flew up. That’s not so bad. So the hand, greased up by snot, slipped out of my grasp. I only needed to grab it again and proceed, right?
Bear with me, my darlings, while I describe the events of the next .0097 seconds. Her hand flew up, as I said. Up and backward over her head. Up and backward over her head and
STRAIGHT INTO MY MOUTH.
I felt the cool dampness on my lips. I tasted the salt on my tongue.
I HAD BEEN INJECTED WITH SLIMY, GERM-RIDDEN, SLITHERY, COLD-FROM-HELL-CARRYING SNOT.
Ack. Blerg. Gah. Gross. Ick. Bleah.
Now, we all eat that stuff when we are tiny. I see the bottom side of Grace’s tongue a decent percentage of each day, as her tongue delves into a nostril. Children pick their nose and eat it all. the. time. Because kids are gross. I assume that once upon a time, I too was equally gross. But it has been many, many, many years since I passed that stage. I no longer have the slightest desire to be ingesting my nasal production. In fact, I would be safe to say I have a STRONG AVERSION to it.
And to be ingesting someone’s else’s???
There are not words. For the Grossness. For the Revulsion.
And what does one do, post snot-injection? Gargle with bleach? Or, as one funny friend suggested, “Take off your whole head and boil it”??
Nope. Though the urge is there, and both those options have their appeal, they are, so sadly, untenable. What you do is drop the child, race to the kitchen where you spit madly in your sink, then wipe your tongue with a cloth. If I’d been thinking just a little more clearly, I’d have headed to the bathroom for the Listerine.
And then what you do…
What else can you do?
Because I know it’s in me now. Simmering. Percolating. Fighting it out with my T-cells. (Go, T-cells, Go!!!)
And you second-guess yourself. Is my nose runny this morning? Or was that just because of the cold outside when I walked the dogs? Are my eyes itchy? Is that a tickle in my throat?
And you wait.