Slapped Cheek Syndrome, Chicken Pox, Head Lice, Streptococcal Pharyngitis, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Conjunctivitis, Influenza, Hand, Mouth and Foot Disease, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Ringworm, Rotavirus, and Scabies.
This is just a sampling of the infections, parasites and communicable diseases to which our children are exposed in schools and on playgrounds. And get this, medical experts say that there is nothing we can do to “completely stop” these maladies. Sure you can insist that your kids develop OCD about washing their hands, or not washing their hands, depending upon whether they are in a gas station bathroom or in the bathroom at the dentist’s office. And you can encase your child’s head and hair in a bubble-boy hat, or just a green striped Patagonia wool hat or Giants baseball cap, protecting against tiny head lice leaping from head to head. Actually, the lice’s legs have adapted to grasp human hair, so they don’t leap. I guess they take a big step, like a landlubber stepping from one row boat to another, risking a full James Brown split. Maybe lice can’t leap, but I bet they can do a split. So your kids shouldn’t touch their heads, or even better, don’t bring them within lice-legsplit distance.
You can dutifully follow your pediatrician’s blue card listing all of the various immunizations over the course of your child’s life, stretching from birth to young adulthood. The pained look on your baby’s face upon the nurse’s first immunization injection? The one you can still remember 12 years later? Well, that’s just the cost of doing business. The dread in the days leading up to a big shot, like Penicillin? Collateral damage. A Tetanus shot? Fuggetaboutit. Some nurses report that some of these immunizations actually hurt their thumbs just from pressing the thick-gauged needle into the target. Still, as long as we keep up on our trusty Immunization Record–with regular reminders or scoldings from Summer Camp and school–no ill can befall our children. Right?
Well, that depends. Take Slapped Cheek Syndrome, for example. This doozy, also known as “Fifth Disease” or Erythema Infectiosum, is a type of viral infection that is most common in children, although it can affect anyone of any age. First of all, what are the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Diseases? I don’t see those on my blue card. Second, the common name can produce confusion at the morning school bus stop. So allow me to clear up that confusion right here and now.
We live in San Francisco and send our boys to school in Marin County. So we are deep into politically-correct, super-sensitive land. Not complaining, just saying. So an email from school reporting that your child has “Slapped Cheek Syndrome” is in actuality just a modern, polite way of saying that your son or daughter misbehaved at school today and the history teacher whacked him or her in the vicinity of the cheeks, or maybe on just one or the other cheek. My adult friends tell stories of rough treatment at the hands of nuns in catholic schools. Not quite. That’s just “Rapped Knuckles Syndrome.” Members of our parents’ generation were regularly and routinely spanked in school, they say. I beg to differ. That is merely an incidence of “Spanked Butt Syndrome.” At least I think I am correct with this line of thinking.
Head lice is a personal favorite. In addition to possessing extraordinarily limber legs, head lice do not discriminate. One head is as good as the other. Little League batting helmet? Head Lice Hotel. The habit of touching heads to pose for an iPhone photo? Micro-example of the Bering Strait Land Bridge Migration Theory in action. Once on your child’s head, chaos ensues. Think of your home now as one of those decontamination zones in the movies. Government workers in full-bodied white suits and helmets, giant white tents, Geiger counters. Rough stuff. Believe me, you don’t want any part of that.
So we have decided at this point to go with the big guns. Rather than returning to the blue card, sheepishly filling in the immunization gaps when scolded by camp or school or doctor, we’re turning to exorcism. That’s right. Wikipedia tells me that this is the ancient practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or an area that the demons are believed to have possessed. If it works for demons, surely it works for Pink Eye.
* Not Applicable. Our child was exorcised on May 14, 2014.
I’m sure this will work out just fine. I feel really good about it.
Thanks for reading.