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Cold wars: How to handle a dripping nose

By: Deborah Goldman

As my toddlers and I meander down the river of perpetual snot, I find myself wondering if this is what I signed up for. Before they were born I had some idea about impending sleepless nights and crying, but someone failed to mention that very soon my beautiful creatures would be in a state of permanent mucosity as well.

And it seems I’m not alone. At the condo where I live, the mums have lost track of who caught what, from whom, and when. The source of blame can no longer be traced to a single dripping nose.

But where I was once quick to point the accusing finger at a parent who dared leave the house with a sick child in tow, I’m now more forgiving. It struck me that if I were to stay indoors every time my children had a sniffle, I would never see the light of day, and then I would go mad, and that would be no good to anyone, least of all my husband who would then be left alone to wipe up the bogeys while I sat silently rocking back and forth on the couch.

That isn’t to say I’m not wracked with guilt whenever we do venture out with a cold upon us, but I also doubt if anyone is able to whip out a Dettol wipe as fast as I can — I’ll Dettol anything that moves, including my own offspring if needs be.

A friend and I were recently discussing the varying degrees of a child’s cold and exactly how runny a nose has to be before self-quarantine should be imposed. It’s not a pleasant subject, you’ll agree, but discussions about toddlers rarely are – I used to be equipped with social graces but since becoming a mother I’ll find myself happily discussing excrement over a cappuccino and a croissant, as if I were discussing the weather.

‘Little Billy did a massive poop today – the biggest I’ve ever seen.’

‘I wish little Nelly would poop. We’re thinking of breaking out the emergency prune juice.’

‘Mmm… delicious croissant!’

‘Isn’t it just?’

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that babies get colds; lots of colds. But at least they help to build a strong immune system. See, that’s Mother Nature’s ironic little joke: get sick, stay healthy. (Hilarious!)

So while blocked noses may result in sleepless nights and whinge-filled dayes, they are a necessary evil. Therefore my only advice – to myself, because I can’t in all good conscience impose my own limited and often bumbling experience of parenting on anyone else – is to let a slight dribble out of the house, but not before I’ve warned other parents that we are with cold. Also, keep the Dettol wipes at the ready, and watch the kids like a hawk so you can pry their germ-ridden little paws away from other children’s teddies.