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A-Dad-s-Guide-To-Surviving-Flu-Season-With-Kids

A Dad's Guide To Surviving Flu Season With Kids

Welcome to The Flu Season. It’s snots all the way from here to the end of March. Pat Fitzpatrick has the low-down on surviving the next couple of months, with extra special advice for sick Dads who don’t get any sympathy because apparently, the kids are more important. It’s a hard station, guys. Give yourself a hug. (No one else will.)

The Name

Here’s the golden rule for Dads. Whatever your kids have is either a cold or ‘that bug that’s going around’, because you don’t want to alarm anyone. Unless you get it yourself, in which case it becomes the flu, or if no one is giving you any sympathy, the Black Death. 

Not that this will actually get you any sympathy. The first thing you learn when the kids are sick is that you matter less than your wife’s hair-straightener. (A lot less.) 

Tissues and Snot

There are three laws governing snot in kids.

1. The smaller the child, the greater the snots

This is why you will often see a guy picking up his one-year-old, to check if the little guy is getting snot pumped by hose into his bum. “How does so much snot come out of one little child?”, says, everyone. 

2. You never have enough tissues

There is nothing you can do about this. As a result, you will end up keeping snotty tissues in your pocket for re-use, which all but guarantees you’ll get the flu/cold/Black Death yourself. There is nothing you can do about this either. 

3. There is nothing wrong with a child eating snot in private

In fact, it’s lovely watching their little snotty faces, chewing away. Stopping them means you need to find a replacement activity, and who has the energy for that in January? (Not me.)

Doctor?

Is that under-six free GP visit card saying “Use me, use me, you know you want to”? Maybe. Or maybe you’re hearing voices because you still haven’t cleared all the gin out of your body after Christmas. 

Bear two things in mind before you visit your GP. First of all, the doctor doesn’t want to hear what you read on a medical website called WeAreAllGoingtoDie.com. Secondly, there is a kid called Nathan in the waiting room with a dark green snot hanging down to his knee. The more you try and avoid Nathan, the more he’ll try and come over to play with you. Again, nothing you can do about this.

Medicine

Your relationship with your partner can seem stale at this time of year. Sometimes it can feel like the only thing you have to say to each other is, “We’re out of Calpol.” There are a number of reasons for this. The main one is that no parent ever said, “Let’s stop giving him Calpol and see what happens.” (What, are you nuts?) 

You try and get around this by stocking up with Calpol on your supermarket run. You also try and stock up on Panadol (what with having the Black Death yourself), but the checkout guy says you have to return one because they all count as paracetamol. You delay your decision just long enough for the checkout guy to cop that you put your own health above that of your child. It’s very awkward. You change supermarkets. 

The Cough

There is clearly a bidding war going on, mainly driven by the Daily Mail. Last year we had the 30-day cough. This is for lightweights now apparently, and you and your children are nobodies if you don’t have the 100-day cough. Here’s my advice. Don’t announce you have the 100-day cough after just 5 days of coughing.  Otherwise, you’ll have to keep coughing for the next 95 days, or people will think you’re a hypochondriac. So, try not to set unrealistic expectations for you and your kids. If you do have a cough, just let it be one of those coughs that might be gone tomorrow. 

Appetite

There is a good chance that your kid is a reluctant eater. Or, a three-year-old, as they are known in the business. Then, he gets sick and pretty much downs tools on the eating front. There are two ways to approach this. One is to spend an hour giving him one spoon of dinner because he needs the nutrition. The other is for all of you to take a break from force-feeding him until he gets better. I’d go for option two.

If you are really worried about nutrition, it turns out that he’ll actually eat two bowls of Cheerios by himself, so go with that, you bad Dad. 

Don’t Worry

When it comes to a sick child, Dad’s role is to stay calm and say there is nothing to worry about, while his partner does all the worrying. This, unfortunately, means you’ll get told you don’t really love your own child and, to be honest, you’re a heartless bastard. Don’t  throw a strop here, or you’ll be accused of looking for attention just because the child is sick, which, let’s face it, you probably are. 

A word of advice if you have plans to abandon your keep-calm role and join your partner as a worrier. You will end up having to go to A&E every time Jack registers over 38 degrees on one of your three thermometers. (Owning only one thermometer is another sign you don’t love your own child, apparently.)

Dad Flu

It goes without saying that you are sick yourself. It literally goes without saying, because as I said above, now is not to time to complain about anything. It’s hard enough for a man to get sympathy for his plight during flu season, without trying to compete with a sick child. 

To get around this, I am thinking of setting up a Facebook page called Very Sick Dads Who Could Do With a Hug. I realise this page might also attract horny Russian ladies in your area, who are willing to give you more than a hug. There are worse things that could happen to a man. 

Let me know if you would be interested in joining such a page. And, whatever you do, disguise your cough. Because now is not the time. 


About the Author

Pat Fitzpatrick lives in Cork city with his wife and two small kids. He gave up a decent job in I.T. in 2008 to head for the lucrative world of writing. So don't hire him as a life coach, investment advisor or anything to do with your career. His Sunday Independent newspaper columns have been entertaining Irish people through some tough times. Pat is a regular on the on the RTE Today show with Maura Derrane and Daithí O’Sé and pops up frequently on radio shows such as the Right Hook. All of this is a bit too much like hard work, so he has started writing novels which will hopefully fund an early retirement to a hammock in the back garden. His first novel, Keep Away from those Ferraris, is available online and in shops outlined here http://www.patfitzpatrick.ie/novels/. Pat’s kids are both under two, so if you don’t mind, he is now going for a quick lie down.

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