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Smelling Sick

  • Posted on March 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Parenting brings about some pretty strange super powers. One of mine is the ability to smell when my children are getting sick. I don’t know what it is, maybe a pheromone or something, but when the boys are coming down with something they start producing this faint odor. It’s not unpleasant and it’s not strong, but it certainly catches my attention.

I don’t make my decisions about keeping the boys home from school due to illness based on this smell alone, but the smell does give me a warning to pay closer attention to the signs that the boys might be getting sick. Since the boys don’t necessarily tell us when they’re sick, this can make the difference between keeping the boys home in comfort and getting a call to come pick them up from school.

Alex was grumpy this weekend. Several times I saw him get up, start to do something, and then seem to give up or forget and go back to what he was doing before, which required less energy. I do that all the time, usually because I have too much on a mind disengaged by too little sleep. Alex sleeps pretty well and usually is more focused, in his own way, than that. It was a sign that he was extra tired. He also lashed out more readily at others, especially Ben. He cuddled more and I found him laying down several times. I thought it was odd, but I wasn’t too worried.

Sunday evening, after Mark told me that Willy had thrown up (and then lied about it); then, I smelled the smell on Alex. Together with the smell, I had enough information from the behavioral change to consider him sick despite the lack of fever or vomiting. They both stayed home Monday. Alex got some extra rest and an extra quiet (Ben-free) day and seemed to recuperate by the end of the day. Willy recuperated a bit faster, but still needed the extra rest.

Now, they’re both back at school. I just hope Ben doesn’t get it, too!