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.