It’s the most wonderful time of the year again – when all kinds of coughs, colds, loathsome lurgies and f***-off flus conspire against you and your kids to really knock you off your perch. Don’t you just love it?!
First one to go down in our fam this year was, of course, me. But could I take some time out, take to my (sofa)bed and sleep it off? Could I ‘b***ocks. No one gave me any Nurofen and Calpol, took my temperature, cooed ‘you poor little mite’ and made me hot chocolates. No one gave a frogt’s fat arse. And, weirdly enough, neither did I.
In fact, I looked upon my raging, unable-to-bring-up-any-phlegm wheezy cough as a sign that perhaps now wasn’t the best time to take up smoking again and that maybe I should finally get that leak in our heating system seen to.
So, despite the fact it costs £84.00 just to get a heating engineer to come round and say: ‘Hmmm, let me fart about with your boiler for an hour or so and then tighten up a nut on your radiator, which you could’ve done yourself, love, for free’, I went for it. In the interests of health and safety, I had no choice.
But I was too late. Just as my month-long cough started to subside somewhat (or I could laugh without having a coughing fit, at least), my son, the Sunshiney Seven Year Old, came down with it and hit the dirt. Hard.
When the school called on Wednesday afternoon, I raced round there in the car – even though it’s a 3-minute walk, tops – bundled him into it and said, in my best caring mum voice: ‘Let’s get you home, Darling, out of your uniform, into your jimjams, onto that couch and doped up to the eyeballs on Calpol, watching whatever crap you want on the telly, so I can get some work done’.
Which sounded like a fine plan and I even thought for a second it was crazy enough to work – but I was the crazy one.
Because although he was sweating and burning up one minute, shivering and freezing the next, he didn’t want to settle down, take it easy, doze on the couch and watch rubbish TV -he wanted to play. With me!
And not the kind of playing which involves you muttering ‘ooh, that’s clever’ or ‘well done, Big Man’ every hour or so – no. He wanted to play chess. Then Seek and Find (giant Where’s Wally-type of pictures with tiny objects placed randomly in them, which you have to find).
It wasn’t until I taught him how to draw a bottom passing wind that things got interesting. Not that I’m always drawing profiles of rear ends with gusts of wind being fast propelled out of them or anything – it just looked like a clown in one of the Seek and Find pictures was a little bit gassy, which made us laugh (as farts invariably do, I find – even the word ‘fart’ is funny, don’t you think?)
Anyway, precisely bugger-all work got done that afternoon and by 5:15, when my daughter got home, both my son and I were passed out on the sofa bed with Cookie lying between us, sweating like waterfalls, as sick as dogs.
‘Mum!’ I heard her burst through the front door, ‘I’m going to be siiiiii-‘.
As she ran to the downstairs loo, I hauled myself up out of the sofa bed and steadied myself. I’d only just sat up and I could see stars, I was so dizzy.
I woozily went to tend to my poorly first-born and got short shrift.
‘Leave me ALONE!’ she screamed, nano-seconds before she was sick. All over the bathroom walls and even the ceiling by the sound of it.
On the way back to the sofa bed, I saw a pile of vomit on the kitchen rug just near the cooker. There were bits of bark and some rubber from a recently-burst red balloon in amongst the yellow porridgey-looking pile, which might sound obvious, but took me a few minutes to realise…Cookie! Even he was getting in on the sick act.
So what did I do? What could I do? I scraped up the spew into a plastic bag, chucked that in the bin, bunged the kitchen rug into the washing machine, washed my hands a hundred times, got my daughter organised into her pyjamas and left her with Cookie and my son on the sofa bed to bicker between them about what to watch.
And that’s pretty much how the rest of the week went for us – no school, no work and no bloody respite, with me running up and down stairs, administering medicines, calling the NHS intermittently, googling flu symptoms and what to do when fevers just won’t abate and collapsing on the stairs for five minutes every few hours – or ‘being lazy’ as my darling girl calls it.
It was a nightmare. As it always is when kids get sick, throw your routine out and the wheels come off big time.
But the worst bit? The Sunshiney Seven Year Old won at chess. All four times we played. And I wasn’t even letting him.
So anyway, that was my week. How was yours?
Lots of love (just don’t get **coughs, splutters** too close),
PS – I’m banging on in that most august of publications, The Henley Standard, about how we should remember there are only 12 days of Christmas – and none of them are in November, if you fancy a read. Just saying…!