Yesterday, I stopped by the pharmacy to get an over the counter cough syrup for my daughter.
The prescription sheet said “syrup”, so I went for it but as I got into the car with the package in my hand, she asked “Mummy, I hope you got whatever those drugs are in tablets?”
“The medicine, are they tablets?”
Huh?!?!?! Excuse me please Doctor, can we get a DNA test somewhere around here?
Yeah I know I carried her for nine months and had her cut out of me when she would have happily gone another three months in the nice comfy womb, but no child of mine prefers tablets to syrup.
I mean, even I, do not prefer tablets to syrup.
You know how I found out tablets were really bitter?
Well, growing up in Kaduna, we all had whatever blood group it was that makes one susceptible to malaria, so we were always in and out of the hospitals, but I was the one person who almost always took like three weeks to fight off the malaria infection and you want to know why?
They were bitter.
Very bitter as in “beat… ahhhhhh”.
But not everyone seemed to think so, everyone else felt they were tasteless or at most chalky but somehow, I tasted every bit of it.
Every time I was given that yellow coated devil’s fart known as chloroquine, I’d throw it into my mouth (at this point, I must concede to those who claimed it tasted like chalk, I could taste nothing), and then hold it in a corner of my cheek and pretend to swallow.
Used to my tricks, my mum would stand glaring at me for a few minutes, waiting to ensure I wasn’t literally squirreling the drug away, at this point, it was beginning to taste faintly bitter.
As soon as she turned her back, I’d spit it out and sharp as a hawk, she’d swoop down on me, pick up the tablet that had started dissolving at this point and throw it back into my mouth.
By this time, the bitterness would be like a grade 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
So I’d struggle to swallow it down and promptly throw it up at which point my mum would scramble through my stomach contents, locate the now almost fully dissolved tablet and throw it back in my mouth.
And this would continue until I had a fine paste of chloroquine, tasting like a combination of deep fried devil’s urine and fart, which I had to swallow or else…
And swallow I would, after which I would sit on a small kitchen stool on the corridor by the kitchen, and wail at the misfortune that would have me swallowing such bitter tablets, and wonder why the world hated me.
But where my daughter is concerned, this apple apparently fell very far from the tree.
I only showed her how to swallow tablets once, and she caught on. So whenever malaria had us taking a quick trip down to the hospital, and she was prescribed drugs, she would politely ask if she could have tablets instead of the “weird tasting” syrups.
She has never concealed her tablets inside one wrap of fufu before swallowing; neither has she ever wanted something with a little bit of taste in it to help push down the drugs.
Nah, not her. Just tip the head, swallow, flush down with water… and case closed.
I had my mind on all this today as I stared down at the one solitary, capsule of prescription anti biotics I was meant to take, and wished I was prescribed syrups instead.
And as I struggled to find a more comfortable way to swallow down that capsule, it suddenly struck me:
I would have avoided the bitter taste of those chloroquine tablets of long long ago, if I had simply done like my daughter and swallowed them as soon as they were handed to me.
I would have barely tasted them.
But I kept fooling around with them and absorbing them as they slowly dissolved in my mouth, hence knowing exactly how they tasted, i.e. bitter grade 100 on a scale of 1 – 10.
I do know there is a lesson in there somewhere, but you’d have to figure it out by yourself, I am not even going to be involved in the awakening but here is another thing this reminisce has just done to me:
It has made me want to go back to my childhood.
I want to unlive all those “bitter chloroquine” moments and be like my daughter, stare those tablets down and swallow them in one single gulp.
One thing is for sure though, my daughter figured this tablet swallowing thing out faster than I did, and for that I am grateful.
When they say that every parent’s wish is for their children to be greater and better than them, surely conquering the phobia for tablets is one of those wishes.
Happy Children’s Day to all the children of the world, special shout out to my daughter. You all are going to be greater and better than your parents’ best..
The world is yours for the taking.
May it yield for you better than it did for us all.