The man in our house has a cough – it’s a nagging sound that I hear each time it arrives and it always gets worse. He does little to help himself. Instead, he’s in the camp of fighting the cough “naturally.” He’ll sweat it out with a bike ride in the rain. It will eventually end in a trip to the doctor and antibiotics.

I don’t have much sympathy, and in the middle of the night a kick in the leg is what he gets to go find himself the couch.

When I get sick – and it’s very rarely – I go to bed, I take drugs and manuka honey, I rest and I get better.

I also can’t stand snotty noses, and children who are sent to school or childcare with it pouring out … usually because they are wearing nothing much more than a t-shirt and don’t have a hanky. They are contagious. They will infect mine. And I will have to take time off work to look after the first, then the second, third, fourth and now fifth. And then I’ll catch it.

The house goes down, and I go with it. Then I’m behind, all because some other parent didn’t take their responsibilities seriously, and neither did the school. Sick children should be sent home. And so should adults. Stay away. You are no good and what’s more you’ll take more of the workforce with you.

I prepare for winter. Like it or not my children are dressed for the conditions. Forced to wear skivvies, hats, scarves, itchy woollen singlets and home-knitted unfashionable jerseys. They also have a waterproof parka, because they walk and bike to school … rain, hail or shine. Heaven help them if I catch them with it not on (I do the drive by).

“But you can’t catch a cold from being cold.” Sorry, you can. I know. I have proof. It’s based on common sense. Your temperature goes down, you start to shiver and your nose starts to run. And if you don’t warm up, your defenses go down and you catch a bug.

Defense – that’s the first way to reduce your risks.

We have vaccinations for a reason … they strongly reduce your chances of catching a killer disease. That’s right, they protect your children (just like seatbelts and fences around pools).

When I took my first baby to have her jabs I thought little of it. Now, nearly fourteen years on, it’s not something to mention. We almost sneak them in, just in case someone challenges you. “Are you sure you want to vaccinate?” Where did all this come from?

If one of these anti-vaccine campaigners happened to challenge me with babe-in-arm, they’d be seeing stars. Because I’m a lioness and you don’t mess with my cubs.

I’m not saying I feel completely good about it. My five girls will each face a decision about the new human papillomavirus cervical cancer vaccine. A decision that as teenagers they will respectively make.

Until then, I am in charge, in control and I take this very seriously. Even more so after one of them caught whooping cough between the vaccination course and stopped breathing. We raced in the ambulance to the hospital. A lumbar puncture and five days in isolation send a big wake up call about how precious life is, how quickly things can change and how children are defenseless.

This month all but the man of the house (because he thinks he’s tougher) for the first time had a flu jab, brought on by the swine flu. We took it in stride, even me who has never had the flu and fears needles.

On top of this we all take a course of Buccaline (on my great grandmother’s advice) to protect against cold complications. You do it every twelve weeks through the winter and it costs about $13 a dose. And then there’s malt, and Vitamin C.

With my defenses in place we’re as protected as we can be … against all those others who won’t or can’t be bothered. We’ll still be on the netball court in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin. But we’ll be home for hot showers and milos, and we’ll get through another winter.

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