Care of the Little Boy – October 1923

A young woman got into the compartment carrying a child well muffled up, an older woman followed, and a young woman bade them good-bye from the platform, mingling with her adieus many exhortations to the woman with the child — whether the mother or not, I could not say — to take care of him.

As the train moved off she cried out, “Never mind about the work — leave things a bit — but don’t neglect him, and mind you nurse him well.”

I inquired if the child had been ill, and both the younger and the older woman began talking and tell me of a lump on his neck for which they had been consulting the doctor, how peevish and petted he was, how they thought the swelling came from his teething, as although nearly three years old, he had not yet cut all his first teeth.

The older woman added, “So-and-so says she wraps him up too much. He’s that soft that he catches cold if there is an open door or window. But then he has had bronchitis a lot and we are so afraid for him. But do you believe in wrapping up so? And indeed he was so muffled in wraps that it would have been difficult for him to turn his head or move his arms, and the day was not cold although it was the first of October.

The mere fact that a child nearly three would sit quietly on a knee, swathed in woollens up to the nose was evidence that he was in poor health. It was not necessary for me to answer the question — evidently a point of dispute between the two women —-except to agree sympathetically that it was a sufficiently onerous task to rear a healthy child and perplexingly difficult to know how to treat a delicate child. The mere fact of over-wrapping him would not cure a lump on the neck.

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