What I have learnt from a 2 year old.....A Pox on Our House

When a child catches chicken pox, the typical parenting response seems to be ‘at least that’s out of the way now’ … ‘it’s better to catch it while they’re young’ etc etc. It is apparently safer to catch it early in life rather than later, so you have a slightly bizarre situation where you are almost willing your child to suffer an illness.

Anyway, our 2 children were 'blessed' with the pox recently, one after the other. And the point I want to focus on is how my 3 year old rationalised it. She is currently in the ‘why…?’ phase of her childhood, so after the blisters appeared her first question was: “Where does it come from?”. We gave a brief, amateur description of germs ….which sparked a flurry of germ-related questions : ”How do the germs know to choose me?” , “What do germs eat?”…”Where do they sleep?...” “Why do the chickens have it?”...and so forth.

There were occasional tantrums during the times she felt ill, and she was quite clingy and wanted her mummy more than usual. But there was no victim ‘woe is me’ mentality, even though she was quarantined and had to miss out on all her favourite activities. In fact, it was the opposite. She was actually quite proud of her spots. She spent a lot of time staring at herself in the mirror pointing them out to us, saying ‘That's my chicken pock – I can’t go out because not everyone has them like me’. Five days on, the pox are fading and we are back to business as usual. What did I learn was that while illness will affect the body, and our bodies will naturally self-restore and work to expel the toxins automatically, our can minds do that too - if we let them. There were low moments when she was very upset and feeling pain, but they would pass relatively quickly and she was ready play to again - no negative narrative, no associated tentacle-thinking, no leaping to future consequences or past consequences.

She was very in the moment. Unless the chicken pox were physically causing her distress, she ignored them and carried on as usual. There was one particularly intense period where she was being sick, had a temperature and was really itchy, and she had flipped into rolling on the floor and shouting. Nothing my wife or I did was helping - we tried distraction, bribery, cuddling, but she just wouldn't calm down enough for us to get anywhere near her with dose of Calpol (for those of you unfamiliar, it is most parent’s drug of choice). As frustrating and upsetting it was for us to watch, I said to my wife (I have an annoying tendency to input with words of wisdom about the nature of human condition) “This will pass.” My wife, relatively calm but visibly irritated by me, said (whilst wrestling with a tantruming chimp) “Can you give me an ETA on that?” It was probably only half an hour in the end, but it feels like 20 hours when you see your little one in pain, but it did pass.

Sometimes we just need to realise that we will have moments of low quality of mind or low emotion, and that too will pass – but only if we let it and trust the system to right itself. The only thing that can stop or slow that down is our thoughts getting in the way of the system.