Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Suburban Man: A Wacky Remedy

By Rick Kaempfer

My wife and boys decided shortly after I became the stay-at-home dad that “care-giving” wasn’t exactly my strong suit. It might have something to do with my German “quit your bellyaching and tough it out” approach to illness. Unfortunately, we’ve discovered together that some illnesses can’t be beaten simply with a strong will and a glass of ginger ale.

So, when the boys get sick, even though I’m the one that’s home with them, I’m in constant touch with the tower asking for help. Normally I just do exactly what my wife tells me to do, but every now and then she’ll give me some advice that makes me question her own qualifications.

For instance, about a month ago when Johnny had a hacking cough keeping him up at night, she suggested something that seemed completely crazy.

“Rub some Vick’s on the bottom of his feet,” she said.

I was waiting for the punch line…and it never came.

“On the bottom of his feet? Where did you hear that one?”

“I got one of those mass e-mails that had been forwarded a million times from the sister of my friend’s mother’s neighbor the other day, and this e-mail claims it works like a charm.”

Of course.

“Was she writing from Nigeria, and did she also suggest you give her all of your bank account information?”

“No, this is legit.”

“Sure sounds like it. Have the mass forwarded e-mails from the sister of your friend’s mother’s neighbor ever been wrong?”

“Just do it.”

“Did the e-mail end with ‘forward this to ten of your best friends and you will have ten years of good luck’?”

“Shut up and get the Vapo-Rub,” she said. “It’s in the medicine cabinet.”

When I told Johnny what I was about to do, he looked at me like I was crazy.

“On the bottom of my feet?” he asked. “What did mom say to do?”

“This is her idea,” I said, with a roll of my eyes. “Just let me do it this one time to prove to your mother it doesn’t work, and we’ll never have to do it again.”

He seemed to accept that explanation and went along with it.

A funny thing happened that night. He didn’t cough, and he slept like a baby. When his brothers got sick the next week, I tried it on them too. It worked again. When Bridget got sick the following week, it worked for her too.

I haven’t gotten sick yet, so I can’t tell you how it feels, and I still don’t understand how it works, but I’m not rolling my eyes anymore. Apparently, the sister of my wife’s friend’s mother’s neighbor is the Doctor Spock of our generation. That must be why her e-mails get forwarded millions of times.

How smart is she? Mr. Vick doesn’t even know about the power of his own product. I read every word of the packaging and it doesn’t say a thing about putting it on the bottom of your feet.

Have any of you heard of this remedy?

If so, have you had similar success?

This originally appeared on my blog at NWI Parent, "Father Knows Nothing." If you haven't yet checked out "Father Knows Nothing", there are several new columns there that I haven't shared here at Suburban Man headquarters.

Click here to see them.