I have sick children this week. It’s hardly surprising as the first bug of the winter seems to be knocking people down like skittles in Ilkley and statistically my odds of staying clear are not great. I’m on day seven with one returned to school today and one lying on the sofa looking wan.
Looking after sick people does not come naturally to me. I know I’m their mother and everything but my beside manner is appalling. When I was a kid we didn’t do ill. I was brought up to believe that if you were not on top form you put up and shut up. Only if you were actually at death’s door should you mention it and then you were packed off to bed with warm squash, Junior Disprin and a little bell to ring in case you needed assistance.
As a result of either this attitude or my general hardiness, I only recall two periods of proper illness in my life so far. Glandular fever after some ill advised, but very enjoyable snogging when I was 16 and flu which became pleurisy whilst living in damp student digs when I was 20.
So when my children struggle down to breakfast with some imagined ill, duvet wrapped round them and faces long, my first reaction tends to be irritation. Days off school mean that my plans go awry and, selfishly, I am generally reluctant to give things up and try to salvage what I can.
As with all mothers I am a pretty good judge of the seriousness of the ailment. It generally depends on which child is complaining. Some of them are hardier than others. We go through a check list of questions. With the high school kids I ask whether what ails them is bad enough to justify a day off and all the catching up that that entails or whether they could battle on knowing that I am around should they need to be airlifted home. They generally go. With the little ones there is usually some party in the offing which prompts miraculous recovery when mentioned.
If that doesn’t work then I generally stomp about for a bit whilst I come to terms with my lost day. They are children after all and they are bound to get ill from time to time. What I can’t bear is the moping. If you’re ill then that’s fine but I really don’t need an Oscar winning performance. Just do it quietly with the minimum amount of fuss.
Now I’m resigned to it. I would imagine that I will be stuck in for at least another two days, always assuming that the others don’t succumb. And that’s OK. I can beetle about with toast, glasses of lucozade and Calpol until they have recovered. Each time they catch something they build up more immunities which has to be a good thing and it gives me chance to work on my Florence Nightingale act which, to be honest, isn’t going to win me any awards any time soon.