You know that thing going around at the moment? The one that makes your kids vomit, burn hotter than the sun and then whinge incessantly for days? Well, it seems to be in a holding pattern above our house.
No sooner has one child recovered, then another one gets sick. Then just as he perks up, the original child’s fever makes a big John Travolta-style comeback. And then the child who has been well all along waits until the other two get better and then throws up in a truly spectacular fashion (some might say a High School Spectacular fashion, based on the recent telecast of that sequined event). And in between all this, there is the mopping of brows and wiping of noses, the changing and washing of bedclothes and pyjamas and the emptying and disinfecting of sick bowls. No pre-natal class I ever took or baby book I’ve ever read prepared me for all this. If anything starts coming out of anybody’s arse with mach force any time soon, I’m seriously considering asking for my money back.
And then there’s the medication. I’ve started to feel like Nurse Ratchet with my little plastic cups and syringes, except I expect most of Nurse Ratchet’s patients were a little more reasonable. I even had to start a little wall chart so I could keep track of who I gave what and when, but resisted the temptation to add an extra column for “Mummy’s Valium” because it’s best not to leave a paper trail for those kind of things.
And then there’s this: having a viral illness take hold of my family like this is a little like declaring martial law – except that the word “martial” suggests some form of discipline and that’s the first thing that goes out the window. Here are just a few examples of how standards have lapsed in recent days:
1. Too much TV is not enough: For me, at least. The kids actually ended up asking me to turn off the TV. Sad and sorry days indeed.
2. Icy poles for breakfast: Preventing dehydration, soothing an inflammation of the throat and keeping them quiet are three very valid medical reasons for feeding my children sugar and food colouring before 9am.
3. The Little Things Get Smaller: Just yesterday, I found myself arguing with my two year old because he kept saying that Bert was Ernie and that Ernie was Ernie. “But it’s ‘Bert and Ernie’, not ‘Ernie and Ernie'” I repeatedly insisted in a whiny tone that belied my years, whilst Mr Justice stood on the sidelines with this “Let it go, mummy” look of disgust on his face.
4. Nightwear as Daywear: On Mr Justice’s first day back at school (after three days absence), everyone – with the exception of Mr Justice himself – did the school run in the clothes they had slept in. Luckily for me and the school community, I slept in the clothes I wore the day before and thus turned daywear into nightwear and then back into daywear, and so transgressing all manner of fashion and hygiene regulations. [An aside: of course we were late to school and had to get a Late Slip. When asked for the reason, I said “Sister’s projectile vomit” only to have the office lady write down “Illness in the Family” which sounds more like a distant and elderly aunt coming down with the ague than me having to strip beds and scrub down walls splattered with the previous night’s dinner. Which is just further proof that They Can’t Handle the Truth. (See “Last Ones Walking” for more on this touchy subject)]
And of course, all of this could not have happened at a better time with Christmas now less than a week away. The number of social engagements we’ve had to cancel (so as not to “Give the Gift of Gastro this Christmas”) means I’ve missed out on a helluva lot of cheap fizz – I mean, Christmas Cheer – and have had to deal with all the mounting pressure stone cold sober. I’d be getting positively Scrooge-like right now except for one small detail. The four batches of butter’n’chocolate-saturated cookies I had pre-prepared for these social engagements remain unbaked in the freezer. I think if I had found myself trapped in the house this long with those cookies baked and ready to eat, by the time everyone was back in good health and the quarantine was finally lifted, they would have had to widen the doorways to get me (and my mu-mu) the hell out of here. So at least in all of this, I’ve been able to rediscover the True Spirit of Christmas by finding something to be Truly Thankful for.