Apparently human beings can get hoof-to-mouth disease. I guess this means we’re done with petting zoos.
But are we done with hugs too?
Over the weekend my son ran a fever. At about the same time, he developed a bit of a rash on his elbow. Then the fever got worse, the rash spread, he stopped eating and our plans to visit a local “Pirate Day” celebration fell off the plank. We may have dodged a bullet with that; had we gone, my son probably would have contracted scurvy.
Last night the fever broke but the rash had spread even more, so we took him to the pediatrician, who told us he’d acquired Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Apparently HFMD isn’t a big deal (and it’s not the same as Hoof and Mouth either, so don’t kill your pet cow just yet); it’s just another disgusting-looking sickness that forces parents to discover just how much they love their kids.
I don’t like that many people, and the list of them for whom I’d sacrifice myself is extremely short. I’ll tell you right now, if my wife gets a gross rash all over her body, I’ll be checked into a hotel so fast I won’t even bother to finish this sen
But children are different. So despite the fact that my son looks like he should be playing Trivial Pursuit with George Costanza, my wife and I let him sleep in our bed. We give him extra cuddles and feed him jello and let him watch extra “Yo Gabba Gabba.” We haven’t let his repulsive rash prevent us from giving him the TLC he needs to get through this stupid disease, even though it’s potentially contagious.
Kids are gross. Even before he got HFMD my son barely let two minutes go by without rubbing his snot and drool all over his face and clothes and hands and everything and everyone he touched. He doesn’t care. A little bodily fluid ain’t no thing but a chicken wing on a string to this kid. And as a parent it doesn’t take long before you’re completely unfazed by getting a speck of your son’s feces on your hand while changing him.
Previous limits are shredded. Boundaries are crossed and forgotten. And it goes beyond just dealing with messes; less than two years in, I’ll gladly humiliate myself at his dance class or endanger my own health just to shield him from an angry dog or a runaway scooter. Much of it is instinctual; even if you hate your kid – maybe he’s a little Joffrey-in-training – something urges you to react and protect your offspring. It’s genetics.
But when you love your kids, as most of us do, there isn’t much that’s TOO inconvenient or TOO gross or TOO dangerous to prevent you from doing whatever possible to make sure he’s okay and comfortably and happy and safe.
Except puking. He starts puking and I’m filing for divorce. I don’t do vomit.