I have a cough

There is a difference between thinking you are clever and actually being clever.

The above is something we tell our children all the time, or at least we say it to one another when they can’t hear or before they’re old enough to understand. That’s usually the response during their “sneakitude” phase, when they think they are being sneaky but in actuality are so transparent that the light doesn’t even slow down when it reaches them.

Case number one: cough drops. They all like the things: individually wrapped, a little sweet, and hanging up high in that basket they cannot reach and therefore much to be craved. 

We parents, of course, are meeeeeeean, and we refuse to give them out unless the child actually has a sore throat.

Our children then develop raging sore throats. It’s like clockwork. My Patient Husband and I generally perform a miraculous healing by means of saying “I don’t think so” and then the child forgets about it. 

Kiddo#3 has changed his tune, inasmuch as coughs have tunes. In the past week or so, he’s taken to simply coughing.

A lot.

Many, many coughs. And then he rasps, “I need a cough drop.”

The performance would garner an Oscar, and really, I ought to get it on video. No predator ever exhibited such patience, such forethought. Because he’ll quietly cough and then wait, cough, pause, cough, and do it six or seven times before issuing the request: if only, if only, someone could give him a cough drop.

Alas for him, I got rid of my stupids years ago. Because you see, before I tangled with Kiddo#3, I had to face the mighty force that is Kiddo#1.

Kiddo#1, he of the Asperger’s, has an interesting perspective on the way the world works. Lacking the social interpretive skills most of us take for granted, he memorizes social interactions as if they’re the steps of a dance, and then he executes them in time to the music everyone else hears. For the most part,  it’s a good impression.

And so we flash back to a day in 2000, when Emily had recently died and I couldn’t have cared less about the niceties of healthy meals. We had a few iron-clad rules (no more than one ice-cream per day, for example) but other than that, as long as it was edible, I was cool with it. We ordered out too often in those days, when my mental functioning was barely above baseline.

On this night in 2000, we find our heroes (that’s me, Patient Husband, and Kiddo#1) arriving at Friendly’s for dinner. And as we got out of the car, Kiddo#1 said, “I don’t want to go in.”

We paused. The Boy, passing up a trip to Friendly’s? And worse, making me cook? This was tragic. I said, “Why not?”

He said, “I can’t go in. I have a cough.”

About four seconds elapsed, him with this querulous look on his face, and then he went :koff:.

I had a very tough time not bursting out laughing. 

And then I realized.  “Oh! You had ice cream after lunch. Today, you can have two ice creams.”

His tuberculosis thus eradicated, Kiddo#1 hopped out of the car and led the way into Friendly’s.

We parents work miraculous cures, you see. And no, you still can’t have that cough drop.


  1. Cricket

    Cepacol has a horrid tasting cough drop. So does Halls. Hide the yummy ones for yourself.

    We use Placebo Medicine. Daughter (7) even watches me make it. It used to be bottled water with a few drops of food colouring and mint flavouring. Now we make it on the fly with water in one of those shot-glass-like cups they use in the hospital and a dash of cinnamon. Son (10) is past that stage.

  2. blueraindrop

    this so sounds like something my kiddo would do. but i get around the cough drops by grabbing a bag of the ones that are just pectin and have nothing in them anyway… essentially candy just meant to keep things wet, and of course once she is allowed to have them she no longer wants them because she can have them.

    though i used to tease that i was a wonder doctor. amazing how that strip she insists she needs for a headache magically cures it…. in spite of the box claiming it only works on runny noses. or the kids tylenol magically cures upset stomach.