THE other day I had a sick child and had to make an executive decision. The chemist had sold out of the sweet syrupy children's Panadol I usually buy for my youngest. I could panic, or settle for the box marked "Children's Soluble Colour-free Panadol 7+ years".
I did both.
The chemist assured me it had the same ingredients as the syrup and the only difference was this stuff came in tablets that had to be dissolved in water.
The instructions on the box clearly claimed "fast effective temporary pain relief", a claim, which I was to learn is directly linked to how much of the stuff you can convince your child to swallow.
Later that night as I approached my youngest she gritted her teeth and clenched her jaw shut.
"Sweetie," I said desperately trying to channel my caring, gentle mummy voice, "trust me, it doesn't taste so bad, a few quick gulps and it's over, job done."
She eyed me suspiciously and took a teeny sip.
"Eeewwhh gross, Mum that's disgusting, it tastes like spew."
"Spew? Really? That's strange, the packet says 'strawberry flavoured'."
When she refused to take a second sip I went for Plan B, the "you're my big girl" routine. This usually involves way more patience than I have at 2am so I hit her with the killer combo - encouragement wrapped up in mother's guilt.
"You're Mama's big girl now, you don't need that little baby Panadol any more. You have the grown-up stuff, just take a few sips, I love you and it breaks my heart to see you suffering."
She pathetically reached for the glass and took a reluctant sip.
"That's my girl, you can do it, wow look at you, I knew you could do it for your Mama, what a big girl you are, I'm so proud of you, just a little bit more."
I did so much cheering and clapping all that was missing was a set of pompoms.
Just when I thought we were making progress she brought the lot back up. Maybe I should have approached the mission from a whole other angle. I could have wrapped the tablet in bacon and thrown it on the floor - always works for the dog.
I was getting desperate and we were out of bacon so I improvised and went with a glass of juice.
I felt like a sneaky character in one of those late-night thriller movies as I waited for the tablet to dissolve before taking it in to my unsuspecting darling child.
She took one look at that apple juice and started screaming her head off.
"No Mummy, no, don't make it drink it, it's poison." Great. As if our neighbours don't have enough doubts about us, now they'll think I'm a modern-day Lucrezia Borgia.
I had to come up with another tactic, as my usual grumpy approach wasn't getting the desired result. I tried being threatening (admittedly, not a big stretch at that hour).
"Okay, sick person, listen up. Do I look like Mary Poppins? Believe me, I'm not about to burst into a chorus of 'Just A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down'. You've made your point, this stuff doesn't taste good, neither does my cooking but you've learnt to live with that.
"Now get over it, stop messing me about and take your medication which hopefully should bring your fever, and my temper, under control."
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