Small Acts of Parental Love… And Torture

August 15, 2008

There are lots of things a parent does in everyday life, which bear testimony to their love for their children. A few examples: dealing with poop and puke and everything inbetween; showing patience in the face of tantrums, illness, general unreasonableness, and everything inbetween; acting chauffeur, butler, cook, and many things inbetween… and more!

But I don’t know if any one rather common act of a parent speaks more of love than this: steam inhalation.

So, your kid/s has a cold. You give the drops and syrups and whatnot, you wrap them up warmly and feed them soup and orange juice or whatever. That’s easy. But that’s not all. You have to give them steam. You have to get a kettle full of boiling water and place it in close proximity to the said sick child and keep the said sick child in close proximity to the said kettle of boiling water for several minutes. And ideally, you do this thrice a day for several days.

Up until this time around, my kids didn’t object to this treatment too much. I’d set an electric kettle on a low table, put a chair next to it, drape a large bedsheet over the whole lot, and get under the sheet with one child on each knee. Before the heat built up, I’d have them engrossed in songs, fairy tales, or other random mommy-babble. They’d sit and listen till they fell asleep or I ran out of inspiration. Amit once even video-taped the whole sequence – from the outside, all you see is a voluminous, tent-like bedsheet with strange sounds emanating from it – it was bizarre. But hilarious.

But, alas, children grow up. And change. And in this particular respect, that change has taken the shape of an aversion to the talking-bedsheet treatment. Tara, actually, still doesn’t mind it too much. As I usually subject them to this treatment just before afternoon naptimes and end of day bedtimes, she’s too sleepy to do anything other than drowse on my shoulder. Mrini, on the other hand…


And wails.

And wails.

And goes on wailing right until the end of the session.

See, I think my kids are the cutest, the bestest, the adorable-est… the usual, you know? But when they start wailing… (insert gnashing of teeth and pulling out of hair sounds here)

I mean, it’s not as if I enjoy the steam treatment. Whether I have a cold or not (but especially if not), probably the thing I least want to do is spend ten minutes babbling under a bedsheet while getting cooked pink like a tomato. And believe me, it does absolutely NO good to my hair. This blasted steam treatment is a headache to set up (gathering up sheet, chair, low table, electric kettle and rigging up the latter so as to be inaccessible to the kids, and then gathering up the kids…), a headache to administer, and is thoroughly detrimental to our electricity bill to boot (to say nothing of the environment in general).

Yet, in the interests of good health, it must be done. I hate it. She hates it. It doesn’t seem to be doing either of us any damned good. But it must be done.

So – in my limited experience, this has to be one of the most difficult everyday-kinda demands on parental affection. And to think that she’s probably going to hold this against me for the rest of her life. I can just see it now – an adult (or adolescent) Mrini turning on me in tears and saying: “You! You used to truss me up and steam me when I was just a baby! How could you!?”

And that’s a good question.

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