Over the years of fathering, I've noticed a sickness that spreads through our children quicker than rotavirus. Liz and I are immune to it, and this may be (although this is not scientific, merely experiential) more prevalent in the house filled with four daughters than it is with four sons.
Usually for this virus to spread through the family, one of the older children must get it first. It begins harmless enough and may even seem a bit isolated. The first symptoms are usually whining over something innocuous, like the back of an earring is lost, or an article of clothing is not clean, or one is merely a wee bit hungry (like it's 11:05, and lunch is at 11:30).
This is how it spreads through our family:
Whining begins and quickly devolves into tears. If Child A is not quarantined immediately, the virus will spread, though it will remain dormant until Child A has recovered.
Then, symptoms pop up in Child B soon thereafter. And usually Child B shows no symptoms of whining, her body begins immediately convulsing in tears, over yet another minor infraction.
Similarly, Child C is stricken only when Child B has recovered.
Warning: There is no immunity to this, so that at anytime, Child A or Child B could come down with this virus as soon as 5 minutes following recovery.
This cycle could last for hours, with brief periods of enforced peace (kid sent to room or outside, weather depending). What's worse is when the younger ones get this virus, the ones with whom there is no reasoning. Because when they get sick, it can last for hours, ending only with nap time or bedtime. Though there have been rare reports where a simple distraction works.
This virus is always lingering just beneath the surface. It is simply known as Crying.
A lot of times, major symptoms of the virus are:
There is no immunization to this. One can only hope that within the next twenty years their bodies will be able to fight against it.
Parents, while they aren't stricken with the virus, do exhibit side effects from being so close to exposure. Usually this can be cured by child bedtime and a bottle of beer or a glass of wine.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.