Taking Care Of A Baby Is Tough… With A Cold!


I’m better now, but I had a raging cold last week. Having any cold is miserable when you’re by yourself, but when you are responsible for the daytime care of an 8-month-old, you need to be “on point.”

Because from the time Skippy wakes up until the time he goes to bed, he wants to play. And forget what you see in the magazine ads — an adorable toddler snuggling cozily in his grandma’s lap while she serenely turns the pages of a book. No. Skippy is adorable — but in a Frenetic Hummingbird sort of way. In a Whirling Dervish sort of way. In a High-Speed Blender sort of way. He wants to go, go, go and never stop. Unfortunately, he is fairly short and has not mastered the ancient art of walking, so this means you have to hold both his hands and help him. He loves this.

If it were up to Skippy, you would spend your day hunched over him like a human crane while he propelled you this way and that by your thumbs. When you have unhappy sinuses, this is a torture track, but you do it because you want him to learn.

There is also the scooter option. Baby scooters completely encircle the baby, provide a padded seat for resting (ha!) and have four wheels that go in any direction the baby points them. The pediatrician recommends no more than 20 minutes a day in this contraption because she prefers that the baby spends most of his time crawling. “Crawling is important for his hip development,” she said.

We started the day crawling, he in the lead of course, but I caved when he kept reaching under the washer, pulling out fuzz and eating it. I weighed the lack of proper hip development against ingesting an errant paperclip and plopped him into the scooter.

Lest you think this bought my ailing self some much-needed couch time, let me correct you. The preferred activity among babies in scooters is to charge wildly up behind the household’s 13-year-old, deaf dog and scare the crap out of him by yanking his tail. Babies will do this despite all warnings and cautions until you finally get up and put the poor dog outside. This will last until the dog, whose age in human years is 91, forgets why he is outside and starts barking to be let in. Back up from the couch.

The baby itself had a milder version of this very same cold for a day and a half the week before, and I begin to question where he got it. The floor is clean (except under the washer), the rugs are routinely vacuumed (due to the excessive shedding of the 91-year-old), all his bottles and eating utensils are boiled after use, and he is constantly being put into fresh, clean clothing.

Then I remember. His mother took him to a baby sign language class where there were (the very thought of it makes me shiver) other babies. And one of these babies was sick, and all of these babies shared the communal toys thoughtfully provided by the session leader (probably in a futile effort to teach the sign for “disease”). So Skippy came home, spent three days incubating and then (I remember this well) gave me his first kiss ever.

As awkward as a preteen kisser but with none of the shyness, he opened his mouth as wide as it would go, lunged toward my yawn and slopped his baby spit into my mouth. Then he sat back proudly and smiled at me.

So you can see how this whole illness is worth it.