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Archive: Gaining Immunity

May 8, 2009
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James spent most of yesterday attached to me in some format, or whining because he wanted to be attached to me. And I spent most of yesterday going, “what is WRONG with you, kid?” Then as I was putting him to bed, he looked at me and in not so many words said, “you want to know what’s wrong? Here:” and then he vomited all over my chest.  And thus, I bring you a past reflection on infant illness.

(Originally published 12/08)I heard somewhere (the place from which I get most of my scientific facts) that there are up to 500 cold viruses crawling the earth. Once a person catches such a virus, he or she is then immune to that virus. I have done some math and have calculated that at the current rate, James will be immune to every known cold virus by the time he is five years old.

In the meantime, I have been gaining an immunity of my own. I no longer experience the symptoms of revulsion (exclamations followed by an immediate load of laundry) commonly associated with the variety of fluids that spill forth from a sick infant.

When James catches a cold his body decides it would be better off inside out. The nasal faucets are a particular favorite of mine. Unfortunately, having his nose wiped holds the number one position on James’ list of things that deserve the scream of death. I will remind him of this when his kindergarten teacher phones home complaining that he picks his nose during circle time.

Due to my new-found tolerance for mucous and vomit, I have become much more flexible about what we use to wipe up the viral messes. In the beginning, only a specially designated wash cloth or prefold was acceptable. The problem with this system became evident when James would gak all over me and, in my panic, I would yell for J.D. to “GET ME A THING! QUICK, I NEED A THING!” He would start frantically handing me soothers and booties and remote controls.

After six months of these daily emergencies I was still unable to effectively communicate my need and he never figured out what the “THING!” was. So now any absorbent fabric within my reach is kosher. J.D. has quickly learned to distance himself from this region when James is on hand. I willingly donate my sleeves all the time but absorbent fabric attached to someone else is still preferable.

You might say that motherhood has diminished my standards of hygiene. But I personally believe that motherhood has simply caused me to be open minded about what actually defines a “clean shirt.” For example, sleeves do not count toward a shirt’s cleanliness value. (Sleeves, by the way, are excellent for a single nose swipe, as baby rarely sees it coming.) Anything front and center is open to personal discretion but I would say that a three-dimensional stain is generally not to be worn in public.

While James has a long way to go before he acquires complete immunity, my progress has been notable. In addition to being undaunted by a wide assortment of baby slime, I have seen a reduction of both laundry and faulty communication with my husband. I should be well equipped to handle that call from his kindergarten teacher.

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