Poor Parenting and Plastic Spoons

My parenting skills are at their poorest, when my child is ill. In the past few days I have come to appreciate this.

We have been on the treadmill of a sickness. A 24 hour dogged trudge. My 6 year old is poorly. The kitchen is littered with little plastic measuring spoons, they are everywhere. Except when needed, then they are nowhere. On the fridge is a note with the time of the last Capol dose.

Ear infections are utterly grim, painful and relentless. I forget this when he first complains and I pack him off to school. The message that children should be at school is so drilled into me. He will be OK. One less absentee. What a good parent am I. Instead of listening to oblique messages filtered through the education system, sourced at Michael Gove, I should listen to my child.

Then he is not at school and is curled up on the sofa. He wants me at arm’s length and grateful to be doing something useful, I sit at the end of the sofa. None of my suggestions for things to do are right – he just wants endless TV. I read a book to fill the mental void sucked out by the 650th viewing of Monsters Inc.

Putting everything else to one side and being there for my son balances out feeling useless, unable to ‘fix’ the ear ache. Taking time to just read is good, but illness is 24 hours. It reappears just as you think you have packed it up for the day and can enjoy and hour of downtime. It rudely awakes, the moment after you have found sleep. It drags you from your bed at 4 am, blinking desperately to focus on getting the Capol into the plastic spoon and carefully manoeuvring it without spilling. Spilt sticky Capol at 4 am is grimness on compounded grimness.

Sofa duty day 3, becomes a little more wearing, the walls seem to shift in a little bit. Being slightly knackered manifests in mindless social media scrolling, which is less food for the soul, than a good book but takes little concentration.

Hemmed in, the good parent in me ebbs away. My boy has perked up a little, enough to play Mario on the Wii, but little else. The electronic music and sound effects, drill into my tired brain. I don’t want to sit on the sofa anymore. I just want to go out somewhere on my own. That’s not currently an option.

Ear ache doesn’t shift and we go as far as the GP. The act of leaving the house is fraught and being impatient with a poorly child, wins zero parent points. Because we’ve secured that rare thing ‘a same day appointment’, it falls into the category of ‘emergency appointment’. I should be very grateful. The wait, is at least half an hour, everyone else is seen before us and time slows right down.

The trip to the GP is obligatory but a gamble. “Keep on with Capol and lots of fluids, it will go” and you wonder why you bothered. You have to bother, if you don’t and it turns out to be worse than you foresaw then that’s a parenting fail. To be filed beside sending your child to school sick, taking too long to wake up to a sobbing child at 4 am, not being patient enough to watch Monster’s Inc again, being too tired to fein interest in Super Mario 3D world, low level impatience and grouchiness having reached day 5 of broken sleep.

We score anti-biotics. I feel like Jesse Pinkman on a good day. Result! Except, the liquid tastes foul. Why can’t medical science fix that? It would make life so much easier at a time when all a parent wants is a little bit of easy.

I grumble to the Mr that “I’ve achieved nothing this week” and he reminds me that I’ve being looking after a sick child and that’s really important. It is important but it’s hard and I’m not very good at it. It’s hard to be the perfect parent at the best of time, it’s harder at the worst of times. Some time off now would be welcome.


  1. Jo

    Oh you sum it up so well. The guilt at not sending them mixed with the worry when you do.
    The guilt of not being Mary bloody poppins and the running out of internet.
    Yup. *nods*

  2. Stephs Two Girls

    Oh so with you on this. I had 3 days housebound with my youngest poorly one last week, and even though you have all that time in the house, it is SO hard to get anything useful done inbetween the mopping of poorly brows. After 3 days the patience and good mummy act is definitely wearing off. ‘Me’ time is so important 😉 hope yours is much better soon x

  3. 3yearsandhome

    Ear infections are the worst, poor little mite. Hope he’s on the mend soon. Both mine have been ill since the weekend – my days have been spent running from one to the other and my nights changing sheets and trying to get the older one to puke in a bucket by his bed. I’ve had to switch my brain off and force myself not to think about anything else. Not sure I’ll be able to switch it back on now though.

  4. Jude

    Ouch, I hear you. Hope your little dude is better soon. I reckon childhood illness is actually harder on the parent! I remember when my little man had chicken pox. 2 weeks of social isolation had me talking to myself and Cbeebies presenters. Desperate times.

  5. headinbook

    I can relate to this so well – first bit of illness and I am Florence Nightingale; by day two I am more like King Herod. It’s tough all round. Poor both of you, hope the antibiotics kick in quickly and you have a lovely Easter holidays to recover. 

    1. helloitsgemma

      I love your turn of phrase! I will take that quote “first bit of illness and I am Florence Nightingale; by day two I am more like King Herod.” brilliant! 

  6. brinabird and son

    What parent will not identify with this? This was me a few weeks ago and after a soso weekend I sent him to nursery only to receive a phone call of raging temps above 40! That night it’s 24 hr watch. I miss work the next two days determined he is finally going to get better. It’s strange how hard it can feel to justify staying at home to take care of your child but there are times when they just need you.

  7. Hurrah For Gin

    Feel your pain Gemma! We are there too.
    Took the baby to the doctor today as he is headbutting walls in pain. His ears look a bit red, but not enough to warrant Anti’B’s apparently 🙁
    Another hard night ahead i think.
    My oldest had frequent ear infections between the ages of 1-2.5 and about 6 perforations. I actually liked the perforation stage as at least it alleviated the horrible pain.
    Hope he feels much better soon x

    1. helloitsgemma

      we had one round of ear infections in which there were 3 trips to the GP before anti-biotics, between time it was 24 hour grim poorly child, went on for weeks. I was a zoombie by the end. 
      sending sympathies. 

  8. older mum in a muddle

    Poor man…. we have loads and loads of colds here aswell, and a particularly nasty one a couple of weeks ago which floored both me and Little A…. and we did nothing, blobbed in front of the TV. I am no good with a cold either…. and ear infections are horrid! X   

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