Lynn Hall column: Not everything is good to share

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

What does a grandmother get when she spends more than two hours with three grandsons between the ages of 2 and 6?

Oh, you know this one. Then you must be a grandparent.

If you’re not, then the answer is that she gets whatever illness happens to be coursing through the homestead on that particular day. And with small boys, germs and viruses apparently hover in the house like a malevolent fog.

When my own children were young and got sick — especially those nasty stomach bugs — I embraced my extensive knowledge of medical science and repeated the mantra — “moms don’t get this.” Laugh it you want, but it worked. Since then, that fool-proof mantra has apparently gone the way of the leeches for blood-letting.

I am normally a very healthy person and most of my life I’ve taken that for granted. I take normal precautions, washing my hands often and getting my flu shot every year, and for literally decades, my germ-resistant, Teflon-coated immune system, kept me symptom-free. Therefore, it’s a little confounding as to why I can’t spend a day with my own grandchildren without finding myself juggling nasal sprays, throat lozenges, a store-brand cold remedy and a trip to urgent care. Since retirement, I’ve apparently become highly susceptible to germs carried by small humans wearing diapers or Paw Patrol undies.

It’s really disappointing because when I was no longer working fulltime, I imagined myself having the freedom to be of use to my own children as they navigated the stressful currents of jobs and adult responsibilities while parenting. I would spend time in Georgia and California helping with my boys — three in Savannah and one in Burbank.

It sounded good in theory, but in reality, I haven’t been to California to “help” yet that I haven’t gotten sick enough to require a trip to urgent care. After stepping out the back door and breaking my ankle on one trip, I think my son and daughter-in-law have been re-evaluating my ability to be west coast “useful.”

Back on the east side of the country, with my son-in-law deployed, I’ve recently had another opportunity to prove myself. There is a certain excitement and sense of fulfillment that comes from being needed, and so joyfully, I headed to Georgia to lend a hand with Tate, Ev and Brooks, six, four and two, respectively. I arrived the week of Thanksgiving and by Thursday was more stuffed up than the turkey. The two-year-old had a cold when I arrived, and after sharing that with me, the four-year-old came down with a fever, which he then shared with the other two boys. Since I’m about two days behind the curve, I’m keeping a thermometer and the Tylenol handy, expecting the fever to hit at any moment now. I fear my east coast usefulness is in real danger now as well.  

If there’s any good news in all of this, it’s that I missed the stomach bug they all came down with on the same night by about three weeks. Oh, and I guess one could say that very early in life, these three boys have embraced the concept of sharing.