I've only been kicking around for a bit over 40 years now, but I've never found anything in the world to make me feel more helpless than my own child telling me that they feel bad, and knowing that I can't fix it.
My daughter was sick last night, and we monitored her fever as it rose up to a slightly worrisome 39.4C. I went out for some children's ibuprofen, as all I had in the cupboard had expired. Good thing that, the kids haven't been sick much. Meanwhile my lovely wife put her into the bath while I was gone. I brought back popsicles too, since her throat hurt and maybe the cold would help with the fever.
I ended up not using the medicine, as her temperature slowly dropped after the bath, and she feel asleep with her Mom for the night. I checked on her at about 2am and 4am, and she was definitely cooling off, so I just sighed in relief and got some sleep.
Still, it doesn't really feel like she got better because of anything that we did. We could comfort her, but in the end, her body was at war with an invader, and it was on its own. We were helpless to help. If her temperature suddenly spiked we'd be off to the hospital to let someone else try to save her. Still helpless to do anything personally. We pray that her body is stronger than the virus. We pray that the doctors know what they're doing. I hope the world will pardon me for feeling that prayer isn't particularly effective, and primarily an act of desperation. I don't like being deperate.
I had heard that nothing would terrify me as much as being a parent, but there's simply no way to prepare someone for just how scary it can be to have this perfect, beautiful little person in pain, or sick, or just crying, and not being able to do anything about it. It's even worse for a control freak like me, and like most parents, I think that the Universe would make more sense if parents could take the children's hurts on themselves. The rational part of my mind knows that some pain is necessary as part of life, and that getting sick makes your immune system stronger. The parent in me doesn't care. Child hurt. Must fix.
The little one is home today, as I want to keep an eye on her (see "Control Freak"), but the worse is past and she'll be fine. Her immune system wins another one, and comes away stronger. Me, I'm just relieved and very tired. I really should call my parents and thank them, repeatedly.