Kindergarten Germs

When I came home from work the other day, I had this in an e-mail from the daughter-in-aw: RJ has croup 😦 . I was concerned and called the kids right away. I remember hearing bad things about croup when I was growing up, and I had read this in Anne of Green Gables:

Minnie May, aged three, was really very sick. She lay on the kitchen sofa feverish and restless, while her hoarse breathing could be heard all over the house. Young Mary Joe, a buxom, broad-faced French girl from the creek, whom Mrs. Barry had engaged to stay with the children during her absence, was helpless and bewildered, quite incapable of thinking what to do, or doing it if she thought of it.

Anne went to work with skill and promptness.

“Minnie May has croup all right; she’s pretty bad, but I’ve seen them worse. First we must have lots of hot water. I declare, Diana, there isn’t more than a cupful in the kettle! There, I’ve filled it up, and, Mary Joe, you may put some wood in the stove. I don’t want to hurt your feelings but it seems to me you might have thought of this before if you’d any imagination. Now, I’ll undress Minnie May and put her to bed and you try to find some soft flannel cloths, Diana. I’m going to give her a dose of ipecac first of all.”

Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac but Anne had not brought up three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac went, not only once, but many times during the long, anxious night when the two little girls worked patiently over the suffering Minnie May, and Young Mary Joe, honestly anxious to do all she could, kept up a roaring fire and heated more water than would have been needed for a hospital of croupy babies.

It was three o’clock when Matthew came with a doctor, for he had been obliged to go all the way to Spencervale for one. But the pressing need for assistance was past. Minnie May was much better and was sleeping soundly.

“I was awfully near giving up in despair,” explained Anne. “She got worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond twins were, even the last pair. I actually thought she was going to choke to death. I gave her every drop of ipecac in that bottle and when the last dose went down I said to myself–not to Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I didn’t want to worry them any more than they were worried, but I had to say it to myself just to relieve my feelings–`This is the last lingering hope and I fear, tis a vain one.’ But in about three minutes she coughed up the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can’t express it in words. You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words.”

“Yes, I know,” nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were thinking some things about her that couldn’t be expressed in words. Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

“That little redheaded girl they have over at Cuthbert’s is as smart as they make ’em. I tell you she saved that baby’s life, for it would have been too late by the time I got there. She seems to have a skill and presence of mind perfectly wonderful in a child of her age. I never saw anything like the eyes of her when she was explaining the case to me.”

My son sort of laughed at me. “You might look it up, Mom,” he said, “before you panic.” And he was right. My defense is that the things you hear when you’re a kid really stick with you.

It turns out that RJ got some time off school and an injection of steroids to ease the swelling in his throat. Not too bad, all things considered. Still, when the son said RJ had taken five or six naps during the day, I knew how sick he had been. Normally, the child goes non-stop from 6 AM until his parents corral him at bedtime, and even then it takes him a while to wind down.

I called yesterday, and I was relieved to hear RJ’s voice. He sounded better. But the bad news is that Tony, age two, caught the croup from his brother. You wouldn’t think that steroids would do much but Tony, who still does take naps, was up at 4 AM this morning.

How well I remember those days. I feel for my son and daughter-in-law. Schools are the source of every germ known to man and then some, and their experience is just beginning. But how thankful I am that things are not like they were in Anne of Green Gables. Relying on ipecac seems like a really hard way to go!

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1 Response to “Kindergarten Germs”


  1. 1 Ron September 30, 2007 at 10:28 am

    RJ returned to school on Friday to find most of his friends were out sick. He came very sad because he thought that he had made them all ill. 😦


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