Saturday, December 11, 2010


I think I have a temperature.

Not that I would really know whether or not I do, because unlike most mothers in America, I live my life without a thermometer.  (I know, you may need to sit for a minute to let the shock from that revelation settle.)

I am always impressed by people who use thermometers.  They keep track of so much information!  “Her temperature is 101.9 today, so she’s definitely on the mend.  Because it was 102.2 yesterday.”

I, on the other hand, run things like my mom did.  She raised her 10 kids without a thermometer, at least as far as I know.  Unless she gave into peer pressure in the years after I left home and started diagnosing by thermometer.  But I kind of doubt it.  Instead she did what I do—looked at her children to see how they were doing.

Eyes too bright?  Flushed face?  Forehead warmer than it ought to be?  (The hand, she always told me, was not sensitive enough to feel accurately enough.  It had to be the inside of the wrist to check for a fever on the forehead.)  Or my personal favorite telltale sign of the sick child.  Sick looking eyes.  (Imagine that!)

The thermometer-less life worked well for my mom, and it has worked well for me.  My kids have been pretty healthy, and it has been obvious when they were not. 

(Except for Cindy Lynn who was, of course, regularly unhealthy.  Not that a thermometer would have helped much with her; turns out that she has an unusually low body temperature, so even at her most ill she often doesn’t register properly sick.  Which just proves my point that the thermometer is unnecessary, because I would know she was sick, even if someone else and their thermometer were sure her temperature was normal.)

Now once the triplets had a…shall we say…dalliance…with a thermometer that was downright embarrassing to me.  It was when we were out in Utah a couple of summers ago and all got the swine flu.

I could tell I was sick—I felt horrid.  Coughing, sinus infection, no voice, no energy.  A couple of days later Jenna started looking bad.  Lethargic, huge circles under her eyes, and a very warm forehead.  In fact, her forehead was warm enough that I was concerned and went to get some ibuprofen.

A little while later my friend’s husband came in with a fancy schmancy ear thermometer and took Jenna’s temperature.  It was 105 degrees.  I wasn’t surprised—I’d known by looking at her and feeling her forehead that she was really sick.  He lectured me on how sick she was, and how I needed to be more concerned about it.  I told him that I was already concerned, and had already given her ibuprofen to bring down her fever. 

But the damage was done.  All three of the triplets had seen the fancy schmancy ear thermometer, and they couldn’t get enough.  For the next three days the thermometer was never far from one of their ears.  They were like junkies who couldn’t get enough, and quite frankly I was a little embarrassed by their enthusiasm for the thermometer.   Didn’t they realize that we were fine without it?  Did they have to walk around spouting their most recent temperature reading???

Fortunately for me the fancy schmancy thermometer stayed in Utah when we drove back home, and we once again resumed our thermometer-less life. 

And that is why I am here today, telling you that I think I have a temperature…but that I have no scientific proof.  Well, other than the fact that I have aches and pains, chills from time to time, a terrible cough, and no voice.  That and the fact that for a good part of the day I laid in my bed awake and doing nothing.  If that doesn’t mean sick, nothing does.

Even without a thermometer.



P.S.  I think the reason that the thermometer thing bugs me is that so many mothers seem not to trust their intuition anymore.  They rely on the thermometer to tell them that their child is sick, and the doctor to tell them what needs to be done for their child.  There seems to be none of the sense that our grandmothers had of being able, most of the time, to deal with minor things on their own.  And I think that most of the mothers I know are far more intelligent and intuitive about their children than they give themselves credit for.


P.P.S.  I am sure you will be thrilled to know that I blogged most of this post from my dark bedroom, texting 136 characters at a time to my computer downstairs.  It was the perfect sick person’s diversion.  And it made me sad that I can’t text while I drive, which would increase my available blogging time substantially.  Of course I usually use my driving time to talk on the phone and work through my distressing emotional issues…so it’s possible that more blog posts wouldn’t be a good tradeoff…


  1. I'm thoroughly impressed that you can write an entire blog post in 160 character snippets!

  2. I am with Jason on that one!

    I hope you get better fast!

    For the record I don't use them either. Which, gets me LOTS of dirty looks at the docs office when I take them in. The docs NEVER believe me when I say they have had a temp but can't quote a number. We do have a thermometer. I am not sure where they are at the moment. When we brought K home and she got so sick we broke down and bought one. We had a few but they were not working. Maybe because they sit in a bathroom drawer never being used? Her temp runs low though so when I would take her to the docs her temp there wasn't high to them but it was high for her.. I just gave up. I know she is sick and I know when they need to be seen. Glad to know I am not the only one that doesn't use them.

  3. We have one, but I never use it either! I can tell if my kids have a temp by pressing my lips to their forehead- that's my thermometer. I'm not about to hold a screaming, sick baby down for 30 seconds while I stick something someplace unpleasant. No thanks. And growing up my mom never used one either, because my Dad had a lower than normal temp and he could tell our temps to the degree, by putting his hand on our forehead. Can CL do that? I always thought that would be a cool superpower for a mom to have:). He was never wrong. HOpe you feel better soon- and I have NO patience for texting, so I am VERY impressed!