Maybe it’s a case where she’s had enough of them at this stage to get used to the procedure, or maybe it’s because we’ve explained what we’re doing, but antigen testing our two-year-old has gotten easier.
Edit: Looking for a saliva test instead? Scroll to the end.
This morning was the most surprising reaction – “I want one”, she says.
So I take out the swap (still in its wrapper), and the collection kit (still in its wrapper)., and hand her both to examine.
“It’s for my nose”, she says, tipping her head back.
I’ve spent the previous ten minutes explaining what’s going to happen, showing her how the whole procedure works, reminding her that we’re “just cleaning your nose”.
The day before was the same, and before that was the same too. Such was the urgency to get tests done, we neglected the important bit – letting her figure out and understand why we’re doing it and breaking it down into an event that won’t set her screaming or hiding.
To be fair, pre-COVID you would not have found me putting anything up my nose, let alone a swap that needs a good inch and more to tickle inside of your head.
Also, I may have stretched the truth in telling her that JJ (Cocomelon) and Peppa (Pig) also have to clean their noses, so with Peppa and Suzy Sheep getting ready for a sleepover in the background, I set about my business.
She sees how it opens, finds out where “the brush” is (read: end of the swap) and watches as I continue the daily routine of morning antigen testing to show her first.
Hen I’m finished, I’ll show her how it will work on her nose and dolly’s nose “slowly, gently”, borrowing from a mantra we’ve been using to get her comfortable walking down a flight of stairs.
It’s a costly routine this weather to be doing daily testing but between rising cases around us, childcare concerns, workplace necessities and family matters, we’re still taking precautions.
Three of us testing Monday to Friday would mean 15 tests a week, meaning €45 a week if shopping in McCauley’s (Boson) or €36 if shopping in Aldi (Deep Blue).
Forget about your electricity credit on the cost of living, how about an antigen test kit credit? I digress.
I’ll explain how I’m going to run the inside of her nose, then we’re going to “put it in the water” and watch what happens.
It’s a case of gentle persuasion but there are no tears this morning. A very slow start around one nostril, very gentle practice and she’s eased into it. There’s still a little wriggling from anticipation but it’s far removed from the terror of a drive through Covid test centre where you’re restraining your child in a car seat while a stranger dressed for a chemical attack prods at her nose and throat.
20 seconds later, we’re done. No tears.
“I want to do it”, she says as I reach for the reagent to pop in the swap.
Again, she’ll watch with fascination as it’s diene and explained, and we watch the drops go into the test devices.
Then it’s back to Peppa who looks like she’s in the middle of a very important story about space and rockets with Grampy Rabbit.
When home testing started becoming a thing, we all spent time reading instructions, getting familiar with the kits, making sure it was being done right to get accurate results, so why not take the same time with your toddler.
I’ll take the longer road with some gentle persuasion over a screaming two-year-old any day…
Check The Conversation, Parents.com for more reading material or if you’re looking for an alternative (in Ireland) to nasal swabbing for toddlers, MyBio offer saliva test kits or “lollypop tests”.
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