I became a grandparent again less than a month ago, and Francesco has just cought a flu virus.
Given his precariously young age, he’s the tender age of 20 days old, and respiratory complications, as a well as a slight fever it was feared that he could have Bronchiolitis and the baby had to be taken to the hospital to be examined and treated using respiratory machines several times, as well as being prescribed the appropriate amount of antipyretic medicine. It was not actually anything to really worry about but three families were on hand: his parents and both sets of grandparents. Despite the fact that we are educated, rational people and understand the situation completely , we lived in a state of red alert feeling considerably anxious and agitated, disproportionate to the actual reality of the danger.
And I have drawn a conclusion about how potent the effect of intertwining two of the most important myths of our culture: our children and our health. The child for us has become a symbol of happiness, perfection, nature, liberty, innocence, purity and so on, he who has more, adds more. And for us, health is the equivalent of wellbeing, happiness, beauty and so forth. Therefore an ‘ill’ baby triggers the ghost of failure, from the end of hoping for happiness even before the beginning of his journey: it means that in the end that which we do, to combat these myths is disappointing and painfully elusive. The innocent child’s ‘non-health’, free from the burden of machines, instills fear that the promised happy ending does not exist. This is our deepest anxiety, as inhabitants of a time when reality is altered by Disney stories where in the end, everything is allowed and the happy ending is guaranteed.