In their lowest, most desperate moments, some parents may curse Mary Poppins and her deceitful lyrics to “A Spoonful of Sugar” when attempting to make young children take horrible tasting medicine in the most delightful way.
Some kids just spit the stuff out, sugar and all. Some run. Some hide. Most cry. Then there are the kickers and screamers, and the ones that accuse Mary Poppins of lying.
Several Marion County parents have offered their experiences for other parents to learn from and commiserate with. Maybe their testimony can save the imaginary nanny’s reputation.
Florence resident Kristi Darnall tried all sorts of things on her kids when they were young.
“It was challenging, Darnall said. “I don’t blame them for fighting it. It tastes nasty.”
She tried to make the uncomfortable process of taking medicine into a game by having her kids hold their breath and count to three. When that didn’t work, she bribed them with their favorite drinks. If all else failed, Darnall said she just forced them to take it.
When her kids were around the age of 2, Marion resident Melissa Kruse utilized the “yummy-tasting” treat technique to combat the sour faces brought on by icky-tasting medicine.
However, Kruse also employed a sleight-of-hand technique known in some circles as “the ol’ switcheroo.”
“I’d have the medicine ready but hidden on the counter before I showed them whatever it was they thought they were getting,” Kruse said.
She would feed them a line akin to “Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise.”
“Then at the last minute, right before putting it in their mouth, I’d switch it with the medicine,” she said. “But they eventually got smart to it.”
She chuckled at her memories.
“I’m kind of a mean mom,” she said, “but hey, I’d give them a treat right afterward.”
Rural Florence resident Linda Allison related a story about when her 12-year-old granddaughter was sick with pneumonia.
“She would not swallow pills, so one time I took her to a doctor and she chose a shot instead of pills,” Allison said. “When she had pneumonia, the doc gave her an ultimatum — either take the pills or stay in the hospital.”
Allison said her granddaughter eventually learned to take pills after the incident.
She suggested parents put pills in the side of their children’s mouths.
“I don’t know where I learned that trick but it is harder to spit out and doesn’t hit as many taste buds,” Allison said.
Marion pharmacist Traci Lanning also had her fair share of trouble giving one of her son’s medicines when he was younger and had many run-ins with croup cough and other breathing problems.
“Our pediatrician suggested using Hershey’s chocolate syrup,” Lanning said. “The amount of chocolate syrup depended on the amount of medicine. It supposedly masks a medicine’s flavor but it didn’t really work.”
She also tried mixing his meds in his applesauce to no avail, but eventually had to resort to good old-fashioned tough love.
“I just had to get plain mean until he learned to swallow it,” Lanning said. “All that really worked was a knee to the gut and a hand on his forehead.”
Lanning has discovered a resource that might help other parents, too. FLAVORx, Inc. is a company that sells flavoring for different medications. Their website has resources for pharmacists and parents.
One resource is “Fred the Flavorbot,” who is essentially a search engine with a drop down menu of common medicines. According to the website, once a medicine is selected, Fred pairs his company’s best “yuck-busting flavors” with that medicine.
Companies like FLAVORx make one wonder what really happened to Mary Poppins when she flew away on her magic umbrella.
Maybe she got out of nannying altogether and maybe — just maybe — she realized there was mo’ money to be made in the realm of flavored medicine.