Observations of a Husband/Dad/Math Geek/Writer/Soap Box Owner/Wine Lover

Sick Baby Magnets

Minor child ailments and complaints never used to concern you too much. The odd snivel here and there was not your greatest concern and all you hoped was that should you be taking a flight or train journey the worst-case scenario was the coughing, spluttering child preventing you from sleeping. This all changes when you become a concerned, slightly neurotic if honest, parent.

Sickness amongst infants is a favourite topic of conversation. Everybody tells you about vaccinations, how children kindly share all their illnesses whilst at school or playgroup and every mother on the planet has a horror story about some everyday item on the supermarket shelf. Everything that was once safe is now somehow extremely dangerous and a lot of this we can attribute to the phenomenon that is email. Everyday a mother is guilty of spraying emails to the masses describing the perils of an arbitrary basic product and it resulting in the premature demise of your cherished one before they even lose the nappies. This is all familiar stuff.

What, on the other hand, is not particular well known, and spread thinly on the knowledge grape vines, is something rather more useful when it comes to protecting your offspring. That is, when out in the big, wide world, your child will miraculously become a sort of magnet. Not just an ordinary magnet though, no, your child will assume industrial size power capacities for attracting sick children. Like a homing beacon, ill children will emerge from every direction, gleefully carrying their germs and virus’ towards your station. Your location is immaterial; whether out to collect supplies or relax at a coffee chop, you will discover at least one child with a less than exemplary health check will levitate towards you, eager to touch, play and engage with your loved one.

There is no rationale behind the sick baby magnet. Consider the scenario of a shopping centre, bustling with children and their respective parents. The number of babies, toddlers and pre-pubescent teenagers may reach well over a hundred but this number is irrelevant. The figure that matters, the critical digit, is the number of those masses carrying some sort of virus or bacteria, which is contagious. The numerical difference of the two may be great; dropping your final total from over one hundred down to five, and thus giving you a warm fuzzy feeling inside that perhaps, this time, you are safe. Wrong. Of the only five sick children in the vicinity, at least one will gravitate to the stroller you push, ready to share what they can.

There are further complications to the sickness magnet that is your child. Firstly, self-propelled, older children are not your only concern. Those smaller people out there that still depend upon mum and dad in order to move from A to B are also potential germ spreaders. They, however, are not to blame; their parents are the guilty parties, who duly wheel them en route to only you without stopping to consider the consequences. Selfish springs to mind. These people antagonise every parent at the birthday party. They manage this by still attending, even when they or one of their clan is close to keeling over from infection. Secondly, being a parent yourself, you are aware of the expected etiquette when dealing with other parents and their brood. This means you are compelled to engage and cannot simply shoo them away in disgust, citing their attempts to infect your precious one.

Diming your baby’s magnetic power is no mean feat. When corned, for example, at a restaurant or coffee house, your options are slim and only stocking up on the necessary medication and praying to higher forces will help you. In a more open environment, such as a park, you have a chance to escape, so I advise running, and do not stop to look back. Finally, situations like parties make your apologies and leave else face the prospect of child who is poorly, trips to the medical centre and long nights of broken sleep once more.

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