No, this isn’t the name of a new emo band. Jafta and I are, unfortunately, the asthmatics.

Asthma is a weird thing. For us, it’s something I totally forget about all spring and summer. Every year I think, wow, Jafta’s asthma is totally gone! And then fall hits, and we are back to negotiating with the nebulizer.

(Jafta watching Baby Einstein with his nebulizer at 7 months old)Having grown up with asthma, I know how gnarly some of those inhaled steroids are. I do my best to deal with his asthma (and mine) in ways that avoid medication as much as possible But some days, like when there are fires raging all around southern California and smoke is filling the air and his already compromised lungs, there’s not much else we can do. So we’ve had quite a few treatments today, and a lot of coughing and difficult breathing. And also, many a mysterious tantrum that are likely the effect of stimulating inhaled steroids and a lack of oxygen to the brain. It makes life so fun!!
Jafta doesn’t just have asthma, he has what my doctor affectionately calls the “allergy triad”: asthma, allergies, and eczema. Which means that all winter, Jafta has a runny nose, a noisy cough, and insanely ashy skin. When we received his preschool handbook and read the rules on keeping the school healthy, I had to have a little chat with the director. I explained to her that if I kept Jafta home every time he had a runny nose, he would not be able to attend preschool Nov-Feb. She has been very understanding, but many parents are not. You would not believe the glares I get from moms in the mall or at the park when they hear his “asthma cough” or see his snotty nose. Yesterday we were in an elevator and he coughed, and another mom pulled her daughter towards her and shielded her with her jacket while casting me a look that said, “how DARE you have him out like that.” Well, sorry lady. I can’t keep him home all winter. Life goes on, even with asthma.

Of course, being the mature person I am, I never worry that I am being judged as a bad mom. MWAAAAHAHAHAHA. And don’t get me started on the eczema thing and how mortifying that is for me. Because if there are two cardinal sins in transracial adoption, they are: 1) letting your kid’s hair look frizzy and unkempt, and 2) not properly moisturizing the skin. And yet despite how much Aveeno, Eucerin, and Aquafor I slather on his skin, five minutes later he has ashy knees that scream “my mom is White and doesn’t get it.”

But all of this allergy triad fun is not without it’s perks. Jafta is sort of our own personal little weather detector.

  • Dry, non-productive cough? We’re gonna have a streak of hot weather in 24 hours.
  • Unexplained runny nose? The winds must be picking up.
  • An ezcema flare-up that’s making him itch all night? It’s about to get really, really cold.

But it goes both ways, and sometimes the weather can predict pretty awful things for Jafta’s asthma. Like today, when I realized that if the smoke got any closer, we were probably in for an ER trip. Fortunately, the wind starting blowing in the opposite direction, and we are all breathing a little easier tonight. Literally and figuratively.