A Spoonful of Sugar

I’m worried. Yesterday, I took the boys to the park and while my oldest son played on the slide I had a premonition of him one day being fifteen, and instead of jovially sliding down the slide, I foresaw him crouching underneath it smoking a joint and skin popping heroin.

Here’s why: the boy LOVES medicine. He loves it. He loves the children’s ibuprofen, the acetominophen, all of the antibiotics, and he’s acquired a new love: Delsym. This past Friday I hauled both boys to the doctor because they were both sick and had been for the past two weeks. My youngest had a double ear infection and my oldest had “an impressive amount of green snot.” I’ve never heard a doctor call snot impressive, but I was, well, impressed by the terminology. My youngest was prescribed an antibiotic, but my oldest was not. She said she wanted to wait since his pestilence initially presented as croup, which is typically viral. She did, however, tell me that he could use cold medicines like Benedryl, Claritin, and Delsym. Since then I have given him Delsym at bedtime, and now he thinks it is manna from heaven. He now thinks that taking medicine is a new part of the bedtime routine and begs for it at night time. The question is, WHY?

My personal theory is that medicine tastes too good nowadays. I remember the sweet milky taste of the pink amoxicillin suspension from when I was a kid. I also remember the orange Triaminic having a pretty pleasant taste, but the other medicines tasted absolutely horrible. Robitussin was the worst and that’s all we had for coughs. Also, the other antibiotics tasted like old bread and I remember one particular medicinal preparation that tasted like Rice Crispies drenched in Worcestershire sauce. Not pleasant. I never asked my mom for medicine as a kid. I usually ran when I saw her loading a spoon with one of these horrific potions.

By contrast, I have sampled each of the new antibiotics and they all have such a nice sweet fruity taste. Amoxicillin, which used to taste the best, now actually tastes the worst of the three, and it still tastes the same as it did when I was a kid. The infant Motrin tastes like cotton candy. Tylenol tastes like a cherry lollipop, and Delsym is the most seductive of them all. It tastes like a grape popsicle. Seriously. I’m craving Delsym right now just thinking about it.

Also, if you go to any of your CVS’s or Walgreens, they offer, for a marginal fee, to flavor your child’s medicine with an array of delicious syrups. $2.99 can get you a choice of Apple, Banana, Bubble Gum, Cherry, Chocolate (WHAT?!?), Grape, Grape Soda, Grape Bubble Gum (who knew grape was so versatile?), Lemon, Orange, Raspberry, Sour Apple, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Watermelon. When I saw the advertisement for flavoring in the drive thru window of the drug store the other day, my first thought was, “Why are they doing that? The medicine is already flavored with such a cornucopia of deliciousness that I don’t see the need to enhance it’s seductive powers over children.” Nonetheless, it’s available.

Indulge me a minute while I embrace my inner senior citizen. Back in the day I took medicine because my mama said I had to, and my mama would spank me if I disobeyed. So most of the time, I obeyed. The medicine had a horrible taste, but that didn’t matter. I wasn’t taking medicine to have an exquisite dining experience. I was taking medicine to treat an ailment. I think more important than that is the fact that the bad taste of medicine made me actually respect it a little. Medicine can be dangerous, and it’s bad taste kind of reinforces its potency. When you flavor medicine so that it has all the appeal of, let’s face it, CANDY, you make it seem innocent, friendly, something that should be consumed with friends while sitting around a roaring fire and roasting marshmellows. In other words, in the good old days, medicine tasted like hell. And that’s the way it was and we LIKED it. More importantly, the bad taste of medicine kind of reinforced the fact that it was something taken for utilitarian purposes, not for pleasure. Flavoring medicine, I think, might give kids the wrong idea about medicine perhaps culminating in tragic results for the kid with a sweet tooth who decides to tap into the child-proof container for a little treat.

Anyway, it occurs to me that I may be all alone in having a toddler who is a Motrin-fiend. I’d be curious to know if others have experienced this with their own kids. Regardless, I had my husband change the name on my son’s savings account to College/Rehab Expenses Fund just to be safe. Any of you have kids who just really like medicine? Have any of you used the flavors? Are they good? If so I might request liquid suspensions of all my future pills and flavor them with the strawberry. I love strawberry.

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