I’m honestly not sure who was crying louder, my two-year-old or myself. There we sat, at almost midnight, together on the kitchen floor leaning against the cabinets, deplete of all efforts and exhausted from emotions. My daughter had a severe ear-infection, and the only remedy was to take an entire syringe of an alleged disgusting medicine twice a day for ten days. This was only day one. At this point, I thought I had tried everything within my power to get my toddler to take this medicine and swallow it instead of spitting it out as though it were poison.
More than two hours have passed since my first attempt. I tried distracting with humor, bribing, threatening timeout, ordering her forcefully, tricking her that it was dessert, holding her nose to prevent taste…and all attempts ended the same way: a screaming toddler with spit up medicine scattered on all surroundings, and an increasingly worried mom on the verge of a breakdown.
My toddler was now running a fever, crying ceaselessly, and I sat holding her on the floor, desperately thinking of how I could ever succeed in giving this medicine twenty times. I took a deep breath as tears of frustration ran down my cheeks like a marathon. And then another deep breath. And another. And one more. As I calmed, I began softly singing to soothe my daughter, and the tears stopped for both of us.
I had to try something different and new, and it was now or never. I still had to put this kid to bed, take a shower, make lunches for the next day, and prepare for meetings that would happen in only several hours.
I got a second syringe, secretly took some milk out of the fridge, and found some food coloring. I made myself “medicine” that looked just like hers. I sat next to her on the floor. “What if I take this nasty stuff with you?” I asked her. She looked at me troubled, but to my surprise, she agreed! We both took our medicine, and I acted as though I was tortured alongside her. Suddenly she wasn’t alone in her misery.
For the next 9-1/2 days, well… let’s just say I got my share of dairy, and the ear infection became a distant memory. Two years later, this nearly traumatizing event taught me a few useful lessons that I would like to share with you:
- Get creative. There is always a solution to a problem, and it’s our responsibility to find answers. When the well-being of our child is in jeopardy, no idea is too crazy to consider trying. What’s that famous saying again about the definition of insanity?? Innovation and courage to try a new problem-solving tactic can be sparked by friends, books, blogs, websites, and your own imagination.
- It’s ok to fail. Failure just brings us a step closer to something that works because it rules out what doesn’t work. We grow as moms and as parents. And it’s a good thing for our children to experience us trying, failing, then trying again, over and over until a successful resolution.
- You are the leader. When you break in front of your child, your child breaks. When you panic, shout, and cry, your child mimics the anxiety and fear. When you remain calm, your child follows your tranquil path. When you try and fail over and over, your child experiences this journey and internalizes your perseverance and courage. And when you succeed, your child learns that determination triumphs over defeat.
In the end, it’s important to know that we are not alone in our trials, and we should all actively search for support and creative ways to win during grueling battles with our little tots.
About Kimberly Wigglesworth
Kimberly is a wife, mom, friend, community leader, and business professional. She’s a Baton Rouge native, third-generation LSU grad, and a self-proclaimed champion of both mastering chaotic schedules and creating coocoo jingles (mostly about burps, butts, and farts) to laugh kids out of tantrums. She has a closet full of 6” heels to remind her of pre-Covid life and has recently invested in some very nice house slippers. She enjoys playing card games with her husband and jamming to throwback songs from the 90’s, hosting neighborhood game nights, and spending time with her family and friends. Coffee is her crutch and comedy is her prescribed medicine for life’s insanity.