I wrote recently about my son’s bout with chickenpox in January 1986. Well, as I feared, a couple of weeks after he recovered, his little sister broke out in spots. She was not quite nine months old at the time—just a baby. But a baby with a forceful personality.
As the second child in the family to succumb to the disease, she had it much worse than her older brother. She had pox everywhere—many on her face, all over her limbs and torso, and, what was most distressing to her (and therefore to me) was that she had them through her diaper area. The last spots were constantly irritated and had little opportunity to heal.
So I sent her to my mother-in-law. When my son had the chickenpox, my in-laws had been traveling, but they were home by the time my daughter became ill. I packed up the baby’s suitcase and met my mother-in-law halfway between our homes, then turned around and went to work, where life was much more peaceful than minding a sick infant.
Grandma took the chickenpox and angry baby in stride. She washed my daughter in baking soda baths, slathered her in chamomile lotion, and let her lie naked on a blanket to help the sores dry. I still think my mother-in-law merits sainthood for what she did that week. Managing the chickenpox in such a young child would have strained my patience.
But there was a deadline to the pampering my daughter could receive. Before she sickened, we had made reservations to travel to Seattle to visit my parents for my son’s fourth birthday in mid-February. I was bound and determined to go. And to take both children. Son was recovered, so there was no problem with him. But would daughter be done with her spots in time?
I called for daily updates on my daughter’s condition. By the end of the week, she was mostly recovered, though a few pox were not yet scabbed over. My in-laws urged me to leave her with them. I didn’t want to be away from her for another week while we were gone, and I also wanted my parents to see her again—they didn’t have many opportunities to see my children, and it had been months since they’d last seen them.
So the day before our flight, I retrieved my daughter. I repacked her suitcase, and off we went—husband, two children, and me. As we boarded the plane, I hid the baby behind her coat hood, to minimize the risk of anyone asking about her scabs. Off we went.
When we arrived in Seattle, my father was a little leery of my pestilent offspring, but he soon loosened up. My children had another grandmother to pamper them. And my son had a wonderful fourth birthday, surrounded by my relatives up through his great-grandmothers.
When have you traveled when maybe you shouldn’t have?