The running joke between wives is that most men are ill-equipped to handle any kind of routine cold or bug with any shred of intestinal (forgive the bad pun) fortitude. Symptoms tend to be magnified tenfold. Every ache and pain elicits an audible moan of discomfort. Guys who usually refrain from discussing feelings of any kind, are suddenly compelled to issue a sit rep (That’s a “situation report.” One of my favored military terms garnered from my brother.) regarding the disposition of their illness. “I’m sick.”
My own husband suffers from this malady. Stories about my dad and the multi-colored bathrobe he’d break out when he was under the weather are legendary. Many of my friends, male and female alike, admit this goes on around their house as well.
I’ve often wondered how this self-pitying, wimpy, whining state of being evolves. Is it inborn? Nature versus nurture? Learned helplessness? The fact that they can get away with it?
I like to hope I’m raising four boys who will someday not become a burden on their future spouses. When it comes to dealing with not feeling well, I think they’re pretty tough. Cameron has run the gamut of childhood diseases and procedures, and has handled most with aplomb. David is rock solid. I actually kind of enjoy it when Justin has a fever because he becomes such a little snuggly docile sweetheart.
But in 30 years when Alex comes down with a cold, and is driving his family crazy because he’s acting like a two year-old about it, I can safely trace the behavior’s origins to this week. Yesterday he started to get a slight sniffle. And by slight, I mean, his nose is a tiny bit runny, and I can tell he’s somewhat congested. He doesn’t have a fever. No cough. Not sneezing. Head and ears are fine. Just a stuffy nose.
His reaction is more on par with someone suffering from poison ivy in a full-body cast.
He doesn’t like that his throat itches, and gets mad that none of my suggested remedies provide immediate relief. He’s upset that he cannot blow his nose hard enough to clear it out, and wants it fixed. NOW. The medicine I give him either tastes bad or doesn’t work quickly enough. The tissues are not soft enough. My “go to” solution for a stuffy nose, Vicks VapoRub, was deemed too spicy and too wet. He fussed and got mad for almost 45 minutes when he woke up in the middle of the night. Worse than a baby. And he’s been perfectly functional today, yet complains about his nose nearly every chance he gets. “I don’t wanna have a stuffy nose. Why do I have to have one? I really can’t get it unstuffed. Why isn’t it getting unstuffed right now? Please. Please. Make it go away. I can’t take it.”
I really don’t mind taking care of a sick kid, but this one has to man up. Now. You can’t be this demanding at 98.6°.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012