Sick day for son becomes bonding experience

Marc Lalonde
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Quiet time on couch just what the doctor ordered for my son – and his father


Last Thursday, my son woke up in the middle of the night with chills – and joined his parents in bed where he alternately shivered and sweated until just before dawn, when he awoke and made his way to the bathroom and threw up copiously.

With my wife and I both working full-time, that meant  would have to stay home and work from there while doing our best to keep the child happy, warm, comfortable and on the road to recovery. I had fewer appointments to re-arrange than she did, so I stayed home with the boy.

It started auspiciously enough; he was kind enough to hold a bowl next to himself as he sat on the couch watching television drinking some orange juice. The bowl came in awfully handy when he brought the orange juice back up, much to his chagrin.

At three years old and change, the boy is old enough to know that he should puke in the bucket when he feels it coming on; that was a major paradigm shift in our household. As so often happens, he felt better a few minutes after he got the bad stuff out and despite a distinct lack of energy, he was able to stay awake by watching a superhero DVD. After a few minutes of writing, I joined him on the couch for some inspiration, and as we sat there, quietly (for what seemed like the first time in eons), we started to regain some energy and my son’s facial expression went from pale, wan and tired to smiling and happy. It’s quite amazing what a little parental contact can do for a child.

A great many scientists have gone on record as saying that a little love and tenderness does everything for a child’s development – but I think it’s equally true for parents. I’m almost convinced that a little downtime with the kids does as much for stress reduction as copious exercise or good sleep patterns – unless, of course, that time with kids happens to coincide with homework time, which can occasionally be a waking nightmare that doesn’t offer the sweet release of waking up.

The 20 minutes or so we spent being silly and hanging out allowed me to get back to work quicker and it allowed him to start feeling better – so much so that when lunch time rolled around, he actually wanted to go outside and play. I talked him into playing a video game on the computer and after a few minutes, he declared ‘I’m tired,’ and made his way back to the couch where he settled down in front of The Avengers and watched Earth’s Mightiest Heroes defend the planet from baddies once again. Attachment-parenting advocates embrace the idea of strong contact with your kids – and unwittingly (just because that’s how we are), we’ve embraced attachment parenting as well – and the benefits it has brought.

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