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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Outdoor Cure

My 15-month old got his first cold recently (First? Yes, I consider us lucky). My ordinarily cheerful, active, loving son became a wailing, clingy, unrecognizable mess in a matter of hours. He wouldn't sleep or eat; he didn't want to play; he intermittently wanted to cuddle but continued to wail while doing it. Spoiled by months of serenity, we parents were at a loss.

Finally, one Saturday my husband recommended a bath. My poor little guy had dried snot on his face and his hair was matted from restless nights peppered with eruptions of screaming and cuddle-requiring. I was hesitant because at this point in the cold EVERYTHING made him howl (Bottle?! I want to throw it in your face! Food? Are you out of your mind??? My stuffed dog? Get it away from me!). He fussed through bath time and afterward, desperate and exhausted, I took him outside.

My grandmother famously told her children that if they didn't feel good, the best cure was to get up and do something. I always thought this was her stock comeback to "I don't want to go to school," but in this case, she was 100% right. (Disclaimer: we are blessed not only to live in Arizona where going outside sick is an option in January, but we also have a killer back yard.)

I don't know if it was the change of scenery, the ample running-around space, or some miraculous, seemingly instantaneous injection of Vitamin D that made my little guy feel better, but the wailing stopped, and he was happy.

We spent a good hour and a half out back while he tossed balls around, rode his trike, and played with the dog without so much as a whimper. When we brought him in, of course, it was a different story (Tylenol, cuddling, Vick's Vaporub). But it made him happy for a brief time while he was really sick, and I'm glad.

Now whenever he has an "off" day and all else fails, I take him into the back yard. Jacket, sunhat - whatever the situation requires - "getting up and doing something," as my grandmother suggested, seems to be a cure-all.

Not everyone is blessed with a great, safe back yard and year-long decent weather, but when he was a few months old and couldn't be calmed, a walk around the block in his stroller worked too. If you have to suit up your little guy or gal in snow pants and a parka, they'll still feel the sun on their faces. And for whatever reason, it worked for us and I hope it does for you too.

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