Last week while visiting the Grandparents in Belgium, my 4yr old came down with an earache. It was Sunday, late – and a holiday weekend to boot. This meant there would be absolutely nothing open. No place to get pain meds for a child. It’s not like they are anti-meds, they whole a whole cupboard dedicated to meds – it’s like a small pharmacy, but what they didn’t have was pain reliever or fever reducer for children. (It is times like these I truly miss the 24hr stores in the US – and in the UK we live within a block of the only 24 hr pharmacy) I think there are very few things that make you feel so helpless as a parent as when your child is screaming in pain and crying and all you can do is hold them.
When I was a child – I remember my parents putting warmed almond oil into my ear to have the heat help soothe it – but we didn’t even have that handy. So I did what every geeky Mom does and reached out to other parents via Twitter.
Within a few minutes I had several credible suggestions including: warm water bottle or washcloth against the ear, warmed olive oil. Unfortunately my guy didn’t want warm he wanted cool – so instead of fighting him to try and soothe him, we asked him what would make his ear feel better. His first suggestions was “cold” so we put an ice-cube in a plastic bag, wrapped in towels and let him apply that for a while.
Do you know that thing from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the Dad puts Windex (window cleaner) on every ailment as a cure-all? Well my 4yr old feels the same about cold wet towels. Any type of scrape, scratch, itch, bump, freckle must have a wet towel applied to cure it. So it was only with a cold damp towel over the side of his head, wrapped up in my arms, us sitting upright did he eventually fall asleep. I remember sitting up, holding him, trying to sleep thinking – how wonderful it would be if they made baby swings in his size. (or wait, better yet – come to think of it, mine!)
The morning came quickly – although he had fitfully fallen asleep around 2, he still woke up bright eyed at 6am feeling perky and wanting to play. Not so much me. How do kids do that?
In hindsight – we’ve become rather lax with all the kiddy accoutrements. Once we shed that baby bag – we’ve been trying to pack light ever since. (Hence we only brought 2 suitcases, 3 backpacks, 1 messenger bag and 1 carry-all on a 1 wk trip to Belgium :0) ) We brought children’s toothpaste, decongestant for the trip and sleeping buddies as well as clothes and toys – but didn’t bring the children’s fever/pain medicine. It will definitely be the first thing we pack from now on.
It’s not like we don’t have a stockpile. Not only have we learned about Children’s Calpol and other UK children’s meds – but each time I travel back and forth to the US I stock up on that melt-in-your mouth cherry/grape/bubblegum flavored Children’s Tylenol (or generic equivalent). My guys never liked the syrup – so having one that melts in their mouth is quite handy. Finding new meds/the right meds in a new country can be kind of daunting but luckily I’ve had a great network of UK Mums who’ve helped guide me through Motherhood in the UK.