As a relatively new mom, I find myself constantly uncertain. Perpetually questioning. So when I come up with a hard and fast principle to guide me in parental decision-making, that’s a good day.
This has been a good day.
My daughter came home from preschool yesterday pretty fussy (not atypical) but also with a runny nose and, I don’t know, overdressed? just sat in the sun? fever? She seemed a little low of spirits/energy but I just never ever know how to tell. Ok, doctor smarty, no, I did not take her temperature. What was the point? It was not high. It was probably imaginary. And the temperature-taking routine around here is, shall we say, to be avoided unless of life-threatening necessity (primarily in that it involves walking UPSTAIRS to find the thermometer. Sorry, not ‘find’. I know exactly where the thermometer is. To be honest, it’s just the stairs).
So I put her to bed, thinking she’d either wake up better or worse and we’d take it from there. Not a great night of sleep so I’m guessing it is moving into the ‘worse’ category. She wakes up, sleepy and warm (and cuddly), and it’s decided, the thermometer will come out after breakfast. Not because I’m concerned that there’s anything major going on, but just so I know if she’s to be quarantined away from all sentient beings or if I can let her lick other toddlers with impunity.
So we sit down to breakfast, pretty normal morning, she eats like a horse (hmmm…. maybe thermometer not required), nose not running (check), and then I hit gold. She starts singing. I feel like this is a pretty good sign. And in a matter of moments, the mystery is solved. She’s singing about poop!
And that’s when I discover the principle. A child singing about poop at the breakfast table is not sick. I call it the poop ratio. If one of every ten words in a given 100 word span is poop, or poo, your kid is fine. Unless they are screaming: “poop, poop, there’s poop everywhere. I can’t stop the poop!” – then maybe they are not fine (but usually in a case like this they actually will just be screaming and crying, rather than using words). But if they are singing, you’re good to go.
Maybe this should be included in training for the people who answer the phone at the doctor’s office:
Mom: Hi, my child is acting fussy and she may have a fever, should I bring her in?
Nurse on phone: Have you checked her poop ratio?
Mom: Excuse me?
Nurse: Is she lying comatose on the couch not chasing her brother or asking you to play voices?
Nurse: Ok, she’s not sick. But just to be sure, let’s check the poop ratio. Try accidentally introducing the word poop into a conversation. Or put something in her vicinity that could resemble poop.
Mom: huh – she’s singing about poop.
Nurse: give me a percentage.
Mom: I’d go with around 8% of the words coming out of her mouth right now are either ‘poop’ or ‘poopy’.
Nurse: Hmmm. Too close to call. What if you include ‘poo’… and ‘mouth’?
Mom: Around 25% . And if we include ‘your’ and ‘my’ and ‘eat’ then maybe we’re at about 50%.
Nurse: What if you add non-words that rhyme with poopy?
Mom: Ok, with that we’re up around 85%.
Nurse: Try saying something like Potty words are for the bathroom or try Poop is not a word for breakfast time. Now?
Mom: We’re basically at a full 100% of constant poop, poo, poopy or a non-word rhyme. What should I do?
Nurse: Wow. Ok, with a 100% poop ratio I usually prescribe Bailey’s, grain alcohol, whatever you’ve got. But is there a pharmacy nearby?
Nurse: Ok, try a bottle of Excedrin and two hours of soft play. Or if she doesn’t recover to a reasonable 20-25% soon, just give up and watch Frozen. You know you want to anyway.