Sick Kids & Thinking at the Margin


On December 1st, my two-year-old came down with a nasty virus. Not your run-of the mill holiday snot-fest, but an 8-day, fever of 103 and cough-until-you-vomit virus. All our Christmas plans  - caroling, Christmas tree lightings, hot chocolate and skating in Central Park, a trip to England, all of them collapsed. It sucked.

The day after my toddler started to revive and act like a normal intransigent two-year-old, refusing to wear mittens even though it was minus 20 degrees outside, my two-month old baby started hacking. She’d contracted RSV, an even nastier virus that affects infants and involves coughing, wheezing, vomiting and in our case, two trips to the emergency room. It sucked even more.

Since then, at least one of them has been sick. My husband caught one of the viruses: I’ve caught two.  We haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time for more than a month. Many times I’ve uttered the phrase, “I can’t do this anymore.” Followed by

“We have to move to Bora Bora, or at least out of Manhattan.”

“We’re never letting the kids play together again.”

“We’re certainly not letting them play with other kids ever again.”

“We should all separate for a month.”

Aside from being wildly irrational, I was fixating on big things — moving continents, isolation chambers, breaking up the family – to try and improve a generally bad situation. What I should have been doing is focusing on small things to help us feel like we were reclaiming our lives. Economists would call this thinking at the margin, or weighing the costs and benefits of incremental changes.

So we divvied the night up into 3-hour shifts. We found a babysitter we trust enough with a sick infant and a high maintenance two-year old (is there any other kind?).  We started ordering pre-made meals – ick – but who has time to cook when you live in a vomitorium?

We’re still tired. And sick. But we’ve discovered that Fresh Direct boxes make awesome trains and we’re going for a walk this evening — to the MOVIES. Our latest family tradition?Whoever takes their medicine without a temper tantrum gets a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Even at 8 am. Mine was delicious.

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