We all know the signs.  The droopy eyes, the sagging energy, the irrational tantrums (because the regular tantrums make complete sense).  You’re little one is getting sick, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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And yet, much like grief, we can’t help but go through the 5 stages of having a sick kid.

Denial.  When your child first starts showing signs of illness and you just ignore them in the hopes that it will go away with a good night’s sleep.  The drippy nose is just a cold.  The cough?  Just a little tickle, maybe from post-nasal drip.  Those big, watery eyes?  Well, this is a sad episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Finally you get to a point where you just start chanting, “She’s not getting sick.  She’s not getting sick.  She’s NOT getting sick!”  As though you can just wish the germs away…

Anger.  Of course, you’re not going to be angry at the sick child.  You’re going to be angry at everyone else, including yourself.  This can include a husband who doesn’t help enough, or tries to help and doesn’t do it “right.”  You could be mad at the mom who brought their sick kid to school to share their germs with everyone else, or the doctor who tells you to just let it work itself out (even though you know there’s nothing else to be done).  You’ll kick yourself for stupidly uttering the words, “Wow, he hasn’t been sick all year,” 3 days before he spiked a fever.  There’s never a shortage of people to be irritated with when you’re dealing with a sick kid.

Bargaining.  Just let her stay well until the weekend, or Friday, or any day but today.  Kids have a way of getting sick at the most inconvenient times, don’t they?  It’s as though they check your calendar, look for the day with the most going on, then go out and lick doorknobs and pick their friends’ noses a few days prior.

Bonus: Once the truth dawns on you, you’ll start a different kind of bargaining.  The, “Let me be sick instead, because seeing your baby sick is torture,” kind of bargaining.

Depression.  Ugh.  He’s sick.  There’s no denying it now.  You’re poor little one is sick, and hurting, and feeling yucky.  Of course, there’s a nice side-order of guilt to go with this depression since you’ve just spent at least 12 hours trying to convince yourself he was just fine.  Now, you know.  He’s sick and you’re going to be stuck inside your germy house, smothered by your germy kid, watching obnoxious kid shows for at least the next day, probably more.

Acceptance.  Finally it sinks in that this fever isn’t going to break in the next 20 minutes, it’s time to settle in for a long day of Disney movies and cuddles.  You might not want to admit it, but there’s a secret joy in those days spent on the couch in pajamas drinking juice.  On these days typically active kids are still, and need us in a way they haven’t since infancy.  Of course we’d never wish our kids ill, but there’s no harm in cherishing sick days for the closeness they bring.

For better or for worse, most moms will go through the 5 stages of having a sick kid in their own way.  Some will speed through, perhaps having a frequently ill child gives them lots of experience.  Others will drag it out, trying to will the germs away until they just have to face it.

However you handle it.  Having a sick kid is no fun for anyone.  So just hunker down, grab the remote, and wait for the storm to pass.

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