My Mom Made Me Eat Vicks!
Submitted by ljzmami
Many over-the-counter cold medicines for babies and toddlers have been taken off the shelf because they're not safe. But what about the so-called natural remedies for colds and flu
? Specifically, Vicks Vaporub. I wonder ... about me ... because my mama made me eat Vicks
as a child.
That's right. I ATE VICKS. See, in Latino households, Vicks VapoRub has been a staple in every medicine cabinet for generations, a natural remedy, known simply as "Vivaporu." Chris Rock used to joke about Tussin being the African-American cure-all? Well, Vivaporu is our Tussin. We Latinos use it on everything: Got sore muscles? Vivaporu. Got a cough? Vivaporu. Chest cold? Flu? Losing a lung? Vivaporu to the rescue.
I looked forward to that smell, that soothing combination of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus. Mami's loving touch would rub tiny circles on my chest and lull me to sleep with a little off-tune lullaby, as if she was willing the sickness away. There was a certain mother-child intimacy there. But then, as I would doze off, she'd take a fingerful and drop it my mouth, and put a dab under my nose for good measure. I'm not sure why she did that (it says right on the jar, DO NOT EAT), but over the course of my childhood, I've probably consumed an entire jarful. I doubt I can attribute my childhood asthma or my bouts of biannual bronchitis to some over-the-counter mentholated salve, but still, I thought about it for a quick minute.
Thirty-something years later, that telltale blue jar sits on a shelf in my own bathroom. I've rubbed it on the soles of feet then put on socks. I've rubbed it on the temples of my head. And yes, I've rubbed it on my own chest. Since becoming a mom, I've used Vicks Vaporub on my own daughter, but sparingly. (Lord knows I'd never make her EAT it!) There's something so soothing about the human touch, right there, kneading your fragile collarbone, especially when your sick little one calls out for Mami. In a nostalgic, innocent (or maybe ignorant?) way, Vicks sorta equals care and love to me. Is that loca?