The self preserving antics of a three year old!


About this time last year I noticed that my 3 year old son would not kiss me or allow me to kiss him again. I was puzzled and tried to find out the reason for the sudden change and here goes:

“My baby boy, why won’t you kiss mummy again?”

“Because….. peoples will say….. I have a husband” was the halting reply that came. I could hardly contain myself with laughter.

 “Mummy, Ashley says kissing is yucky and I told him that only husband and wife can do kissing” that from my five year old girl Issy!

A week or two after this hilarious conversation I went down with tuberculosis of the worst kind. I had just walked out on a horribly abusive marriage and was camped out in my older sister’s house, sharing a room and bed with my two kids’ aged three and five. Five year old is a girl and the three year old a boy.

That fateful day a year ago, I had gone to bed with the two tornadoes jostling for my attention and poking me with their skinny limbs and feet (as if to make sure I was right there all the time) when I woke up coughing and choking on torrents of blood gushing through my throat! That’s as simple as the ordeal started and I was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with TB.

TB! My kids! What of my kids? Are they safe? Had I infected them already? How long did I carry the virus or bacteria before the crisis? My mind was running like a caged rabbit. I remembered all the seemingly harmless gestures that had suddenly become very dangerous habits. I saw in my mind’s eye how my daughter would always prefer to eat from my plate. How she would come and use my spoon or fork to confirm the food is yummy before going to attack her own plate. How the vivacious 5 year old would like to come climb my lap, hold my face between her two chubby palms and speak into my mouth if she thinks I’m not giving her full attention. I saw all the wet kisses, all the salty tears I had been kissing away, all the tender cuddles and hugs and pecks and sloppy kisses that had seemed all pleasant and comforting to both of us turn into dangerously possible ways of transmitting TB from me to my children!. And my boy, the sweetly reserved, kind and considerate boy who thinks that mummy’s ears as well as mouth and nose are good for talking to most especially because he wouldn’t want it broadcast what he is telling mummy. I looked back at how I did not insist when they wanted my drink in spite of theirs. How they would come stick their drink in my mouth because they want to convince me whose choice of soft drink is the best. I remembered and panicked and remembered some more and panicked even more.

I started off on the tedious months long treatment to destroy the virus in my body. They had me bring in the children for medical checks and thanks to God they had not contracted the virus. The tests came out negative but my apprehension did not go away immediately. I kept checking their small chests and looking hard for any sign of cough or unusual breathing for a long time.  

The next ordeal was to convince the kids to stay away from their mummy, to not eat from my plate or drink from my cup or kiss mummy or speak to mummy’s mouth. I had to explain to them that mummy had catarrh and cough and they should not come and catch it. The five year old chatty girl promptly thought it was kind of funny and told her brother that mummy had “catarrh-cough” but she obeyed. If they find themselves drawing close they would ask me “mummy do you still have catarrh-cough?”  if I say yes they go away. I was missing my kids terribly but I knew it was for good. The boy would come and say mummy “do you say you have catarrh-cough?  yucky! When will it go away? on Saturday? Next week? It will soon go?”

I waited some more and took them for a second opinion! I guess I needed the double assurance. I was told at the clinic that it was ok to get close to my children once again because the drugs had incapacitated transmission but I was having none of it. I maintained the distance as I continued with the big ugly orange tablets taken only with water early in the morning and an hour before breakfast.

Things calmed down quite considerably for us although keeping my children at arm’s length was agonising for all of us. I was told the possible ways I might have caught the disease one of which was stress. Stress?! I had had over dose of stress from my ex husband!

I have since completed the treatment and am declared ok. As I look back I thank God that my three year old thought kissing was yucky and that people would think I’m his husband if he kissed me! I also thank God that his sister agreed with him completely. I still find it hilarious but come to think of it, if my children had not gone on a mummy kissing break they probably would have contracted the disease and where would that leave us?

The kids are four and six now and neither has issues kissing mummy again. Maybe their social standing is no longer at stake! The kisses are both less frequent and less sloppy now. Who is thinking of yucky kisses again? Once in a while I hear “mummy do you still have catarrh-cough? Can I drink your water?”  Of course having known better, the answer is always an emphatic no!


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