Yes. I did give a birth control pill to a 9 year old boy.

 “Well, we’ll just make do with what we have.”  This is the mantra of missionaries and hippy freaks all over the globe.
We “make do”.  
I don’t even know what the hell that means, except that when we have to substitute something crappy for something good, or when we half-ass a job because we can’t find/get the tools or materials we need to do it right, or when we live with holes in our Converse because they won’t be replaced until the next visit to the states, those are the times we say “we’re making do”.
Usually we make do out of necessity.  Sometimes we make do out of choice.  Occasionally, we make do out of Guinness-is-crazy-expensive-here-so-we’ll-have-to-use-Bavaria-negra-if-we-wanna-slam-Irish-Car-Bombs.
But the cool part about the whole making do thing is that, often times, the final product turns out to be better/less-expensive/tastier/nicer looking than it would have been had you found or bought whatever it is you thought you needed in the first place. (Although not in the case of Irish Car Bombs.)  And making do comes with a better story, one that makes you sound all clever and innovative and stuff.  
So that, my friend, is how I ended up giving a nine year old boy a birth control pill for an imaginary headache.
I was making do.
When our Burn Victim friend was in the hospital, his poor wife was freaking out, trying to go back and forth between him and their kids.  So we ended up taking their two oldest sons to the beach with our family for a few days so that their Mom had less on her plate and so their Dad could have a chance to heal a bit.  We LOVE these kids, it was no big deal to us.  So, we loaded up our car with our three boys, their two boys, and everything we’d need for a few days in the surf, sand, and sun, and we headed to a beach house at Playa Bejuco.  
The first day was spectacular! All the boys were getting along, they had all stayed sufficiently sun-blocked and super hydrated, and by some miracle, we had the four youngest all showered and in bed by 9pm.  I read to them, tucked them in, and said goodnight, and that was that.
Until 10 pm.
That’s when I heard wailing coming from the room the boys were bunked in. Wailing.
I went in to find three boys covering their ears with pillows and one little, schmoopy, mess of a kid, in the middle of the floor, wrapped in a blanket, and rocking back and forth, while screaming “I’m SO TIRED I can’t take it anymore!”
So I got him up and brought him out to the living room and I tried to talk him down.  But I knew, before he even said it, I knew that he was gonna play the headache card – it’s like this thing he does – I dunno, he likes to take medicine, or something.  Anyway.  I love this kid to pieces, and I know him well enough to know the difference between when he’s honest to goodness got a headache, and when he’s overwhelmed and exhausted, and worried about his Dad, and missing his Mom, and up way, way, way past his normal bedtime.  And I really did feel bad for him, but I didn’t have any headache medicine, and he didn’t need any headache medicine.
And it was becoming painfully obvious that this kid was not going to bed until he’d swallowed something resembling an Advil.
He was tired.  I was tired.
A decision had to be made.  Action had to be taken.  I was gonna have to make do!
So with a sigh of exasperation, I went to my purse where I keep the birth control pills (which I don’t need since El Chupacabra had a vas-snippity about 45 seconds after our third child was born but which I take anyway for vanity purposes and in a feeble attempt to thwart a monthly psychotic break) and I carefully popped out one of the little white pills at the end of the pack – one of the nothing pills.
See, I was preeeetty sure at the time, and later confirmed my belief – Thank you, Google – that those little pills at the end of the pack contain…well…nothing. 
So I poured him a glass of water and gave him the little pill, and not even kidding, he was asleep – FULLY ASLEEP – in under 3 minutes.

I. Win.
So then I went back to our room and El Chupacabra was like “Wow. He’s quiet. What  did you do?”
“I gave him a birth control pill and told him it was headache medicine.”
And he was all, “Please tell me you’re kidding.” But after I explained the deal with the nothing pills, he was cool with it, and so were the parents, and probably so are you… 

Lessons learned from giving a nine year old boy the pill:
  1. Making do is awesome.
  2. Irish Car Bombs are awesome, but not as awesome when you have to make do.
  3. You shouldn’t tell your spouse something that you don’t want the entire world to know because they may pressure you to spill the beans until you do.  (It ended up ok for me… but you could end up in some Latin American prison for well-meaning but ignorant people who give inappropriate meds to young children. So watch yourself!)
  4. Sometimes, it’s all in your head.
  5. Taking birth control pills for clear skin and mood management may inadvertently result in the calming down of a hysterical child.
  6. Sometimes being innovative means taking risks….with someone else’s child.
  7. You probably shouldn’t let me watch your kids, I mean, if you value them.
  8. I am officially the Queen of AwesomeMakeDoNess. 

Good stuff, huh?

Yup….commence massive unfollowing.



  1. LIZZY on April 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Love. Love. Love.

    Ps. Totally would have done the same thing!

  2. sinclair on April 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    THAT was awesome.

  3. the J in PJs Til Noon on April 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I think the opposite. Mass new followers.
    You are the queen & we bow.

  4. Pam on April 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    LOL! Jamie, you're brilliant. And I REALLY want to know what an Irish Car Bomb is so I would like to treat you to one someday. Or I'll just come there and we can "make do." I'm good either way. ;o)

  5. Chris Noelle on April 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm


    (laughing so hard my sombrero fell off and I dropped my taco)


  6. jamesbrett on April 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    that story is awesome — thanks for sharing. i'm a missionary in tanzania, though, and here we give out birth control medicine to people all the time saying it's just for headaches and general body pains. we also give anti-depressants to the people we think need them. oh, and irish car bombs to the little kids at half-time of soccer matches.

    you're a funny lady.

  7. Carrie on April 22, 2010 at 12:38 am


  8. Alida on April 22, 2010 at 4:02 am

    love it!

  9. Cynthia Reese on April 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Bwhahahahaaa! The Kiddo can be as bad a hypochondriac as this … and yes, I've contemplated doing something like buying her a sugar pill, but was terribly afraid I was encouraging a future prescription junkie habit.

    Your story was worth the wait!

  10. Stephanie on April 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I think the placebo pill was a clever idea. I laughed out loud at #5 and about the Irish make-do bombs. I googled for the recipe and the ICB sounds yum. We don't have the goods here either, maybe I'll get a chance to try that one in the states. Which, by the way, we're going too. You're going in a week? That's freakin' awesome! What region will you be in? We're going first of June thru mid-July and I really can't wait. We're starting in TX and then headed to the east coast for my man's fam. Wow, it feels big. How long will you be there? You'll have to tell if you have any "reverse culture shock." You'll have to give me advice. I'm a bit nervous about that… but still can't wait. It's been 2 1/2 yrs for us. I don't think my fam will even recognize our kids!
    All the best and happy travels~ xx

  11. johnbobcullimore on April 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Just stumbled on this blog… very good stuff. Thanks for spilling your guts. It's awesome. I'm really looking forward to reading a lot more.

  12. tamaraoutloud on April 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Too good to abbreviate: Laughed My Ass Off.

  13. Lee on April 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Ms. VWM,

    Please disregard my previous comment on a previous post. This is now the very best poST I. HAVE. EVER. READ.

    Until, of course, I find another one.

    Sincerely, Lee

  14. Mindy on April 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Mindy on April 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    if my friend Erin has read this post she is probably handing out "nothing" pills to about 50 Hondurans with "the gripe" (insert zoolander cough here).

  16. thebeloved on April 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Fantastic! I totally identify with the making do aspect of this.

  17. tahni candelaria on April 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    i'm so glad that you were convinced to share this. i was just explaining the nothing pills to my husband today…

  18. Caroline on April 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    That's awesome, you've got him pegged.

  19. Zac on April 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

    You are like MacGyver! All you need is a ball point pen, a paper clip and a placebo birth control pill and you can solve anything. P.S. Irish Car bombs are awesome!

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