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Dr. Spock: Childcare Guru or Deranged Maniac? - Episode 3

Baby on the cover says, "Dr. Spock
advises against washing your child's hair
Well, if you've joined this series for Episode 1 (So, Idiot, You Think You're Going To Be Ready For the Baby?)  and Episode 2 (Putting Your Baby Out To Pasture and Other Typical Daily Activities), then you know that we've been delving into the book Baby and Child Care by Dr. Spock, because it's been a classic reference tool for parents everywhere since 1946 and also because I found a copy of it in my linen closet and couldn't stop laughing at Dr. Spock's apparent attempts to eradicate the human race with his advice.

Now that you've purchased a flimsy car bed and picked out a nice spot on the lawn where the baby can sunbathe all day (and if that sounds crazy, you'll need to read Parts 1 and 2 to learn what you've been doing wrong so far), you're no doubt ready to find out what to do if your child gets sick.  AND HE WILL.  So strap in for...

EPISODE 3: Your Child Has the Plague

According to the Good Doctor and his chapter on Illnesses, we are living in a swirling hotbed of Diphtheria particles and Rheumatic Fever globules.  If your child should happen to get Mumps or one of the various Poxes, you're probably going to need to administer an enema or a suppository, maybe both.  They're pretty standard, even for the sniffles.

What?  You don't know what kind of enema to get at the store?  Don't despair - you can make your own with water, "mild toilet soap" (um, whatever that is), and an eye dropper.  What a fun craft project!  Dr. Spock goes into great detail in this section, but I'll spare you the play-by-play since (if your kid catches wind that you're planning any of this) he's most likely going to run away and join the circus before you can get anywhere near him - problem solved!  Suffice it to say, if you do  have to administer a homemade enema, you're going to want to throw everything away afterward - the eye dropper, your hands, the room you did it in - I mean Every.  Thing.  Including your child, possibly.  After all, you're never going to be able to look him in the eye again anyway.

Mostly, though, your kids won't get exotic-sounding deadly diseases, and there's a small chance they won't even need an enema.  Usually they'll just get something boring called A Cold.  A Cold, Dr. Spock warns, is caused by a microgerm so small that it can't be seen through a microscope.  Of course back in 1957, when this edition of the book was released, the most powerful microscope available to the Medical Community was Mr. Peanut's monocle (Planters' original motto: Bringing you peanut butter and germ enlargement since 1916!), which wasn't actually very powerful at all by today's standards.  These days we can ogle viruses and germs any time we please by peering through practically any old piece of Modern Technology we happen to have lying around.

Microscopic view of common germs
What do I do if my child is oozing substances from every orifice and has the hacking cough of a 3-pack-a-day smoker?  What's making him sick?   you might ask.  If West Side Story taught us anything (which it hasn't), it's that most children back in the 1950s were  3-pack-a-day smokers, riding around on their Hot Wheels all day with a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeves of their Garanimals T-shirts, which caused a lot of extra coughing and made diagnosis of A Cold back then much more difficult.  So thank your lucky stars you don't have that  problem, especially since you can't get nicotine patches with SpongeBob printed on them.  (Or can you?  I bet you probably can.)

In Today's Modern World, you can usually assume a hacking cough means your kid has Pneumonia or Measles or A Cold or something (you can check his sleeves for cigarettes if you want to be extra cautious).  Recovery from a cold, Dr. Spock asserts (get ready to take notes), is all about temperature.  Unfortunately, you're going to spend a lot of time running around, adjusting your thermostat; on one page he says "children of all ages should be outdoors several hours a day in winter and sleep in cold rooms" - basically, you should keep them half-frozen at all times.  But five pages later he says to keep them warm and out of drafty areas because "uneven coolness seems to make the cold worse" - from the sound of things, having "a warm perspiration below and a cool perspiration above" on the body is pretty much the kiss of death.  Plus it sounds gross.  So, the secret to good health seems to be keeping your entire body slathered in an even coating  of coldness.  Or warmness.  Whatever.

Anyway, if you rule out "cool breeze" as the culprit causing your child's general ooziness, it could just be that your child is willful and/or stressed out.  That's right, Dr. Spock tells us that certain children are "much more susceptible to colds when they are tense or unhappy" (pg 459).  Did you ever feel like your kid was sick just because he was nervous about a test at school, or because he was getting jealous of your time at work and knew it was going to be extra-difficult for you to telecommute with wails of, "MOMMMMMMMMMY, I NEED THE NOSE SUCKER AND ALSO I JUST ATE THE WHOLE BOTTLE OF FLINTSTONE VITAMINS" in the background of all your business calls?  It turns out you were right!  So instead of keeping him home, you might be able to cure your child simply by saying, "Cheer up, already, you little whiner."  If that doesn't work, threaten him with a Toilet Soap Enema - that ought to get him to snap out of it.

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from Dr. Spock, like whether or not everything that's wrong with your kid is your fault
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  1. I hope the Medical Community washed Mr. Peanut's monocle in between all that trading it around with each other. No wonder so many people got sick back then!

  2. TruckingT, I've worked in hospitals before. I don't trust the Medical Community to wash anything!

  3. You are truly one of my most favorite blogs:) THis post was awesome!

  4. Aww, THANKS, Melissa! That makes me smiley. :)

  5. Nice sharing, Thanks for share with us, I will be come back to your next post, Good luck!!!

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