This week we’ve two sick little people. It’s been rough going, but we’re over the worst of it I think. We cancelled our planned night out tonight as the small girl has been so unsettled in the evenings and instead of being out for dinner I’m writing about why we’re home and my husband is taking advantage of the unexpected night in to paint the downstairs loo. (No, seriously, he bought the paint in July).
The middle child has escaped, his only ailment being the lack of attention as his siblings have been monopolising attention, the nice medicine and the parental bed space for the last few days.
Our six-year-old was devastated on Wednesday night, when as his temperate raged we suggested around 3am that he couldn’t go to school
n a few hours the following day. He really couldn’t miss it he said, there was the rest of his Aistear to do that just had to be ready for Friday, and he had “a very important speech” to do for Green Flag day. They’d need him. Such is the life of a Senior Infant, so many commitments, so many people to please.
We kept him out of school (I had to hide his uniform and schoolbag) and our fantastic childminder mammied him and dealt with his complaints about not being allowed go to school while we struggled through work on three hours’ sleep. The final straw for him came when his Daddy brought him to the doctor in the afternoon, doctors are bad news when you’re six. The doctor asked how he was feeling “Absolutely fine” he said, “I am NOT sick”. He was dedicated to the cause of getting back to school. He kept it up “There really is nothing wrong with me, I feel fine”. An examination proved otherwise, and when the doctor confirmed “no school until Monday” instead of the usual delight, his Dad reports that it sounded as if a siren had gone off in the consultation room. The doctor was taken aback as the small boy wailed at the idea of missing ANOTHER day of school.
Fair play to the doctor, on confirming that he wasn’t contagious and hearing about the “very important speech” he brokered a deal with Ciarán. If his temperature stayed down, he slept all night without waking up and was eating and drinking and if he felt OK and Mammy and Daddy thought that he seemed OK then he could go to school the next day. The wailing abated. He was now determined to be well. He rested, ate his dinner and then asked to go to bed so he could be ready. checking that I’d be sure to leave his uniform and schoolbag out. Luckily, he was better and was well enough to go to school and he hasn’t looked back, it seems that one day on a couch, the recommended dose of Calpol and the motivation to get back to school was all it needed to give the viral infection a run for its money.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to be sick when you’re only fifteen-months-old and don’t quite know what’s going on. When I checked in with our childminder on Ciarán she said that poor Laoise seemed much sicker than he was, a child who’d been in flying form hours earlier. She got brought to the doctor too and it turned out that she had a temperature that merited her toddling around almost naked for the rest of the evening and later she broke out in the rash that confirmed that she has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. If you thought cows, think again, Hand, Foot and Mouth is a viral infection that has all the symptoms of a bad cold in a toddler but with a rash on the, yes, you guessed it, hands, feet and mouth.
The poor divil is miserable. Her mouth hurt so much that the first night she refused Calpol, not wanting anything near her mouth. She wants to be held, but on her terms. She wants snuggles, but only when she wants them. She wants water, but only when she wants it and not when we suggest that she might like it. She’s finding it hard to sleep, and is waking a lot, knowing only what she doesn’t want, whinging, wriggling, complaining. She’s confused, she’s mithered. After her medicine she’ll get a bit of a boost and empty some drawers or play, but the boost is short-lived. She’s sitting on knees. We have her on house arrest as we’ve been told she’s very contagious, so there have been some very sad scenes of a small girl holding a hoodie and banging on the front door to get out. On top of everything else she has cabin fever.
Cathal is very concerned about his small sister, checking that she’s OK and giving her her bunny if she loses it on her travels. He has complained a few times that her crying is too loud for him to hear TV but otherwise he’s been very empathetic. However, big brother, terrified of catching anything that will mean he could possibly miss any school is anything but. He runs in the opposite direction from her, declaring her “germy” and freaks if she touches anything that he might need to touch in case she leaves germs on it. She thinks he’s playing chase and runs after him. There are squeals of delight from her and horror from him. The HSE could do with employing this one, he’s an expert on avoiding the spread of infection and washing his hands at the tiniest possibility of contamination.
It’s been a long few days. All our clothes are covered in snot and drool. There are bags under our eyes. We should have shares in Calpol at this stage. But it seems like we’ve turned a corner now, all three are sleeping soundly. It’s rough when the kids are sick, rough when you’re home with them, rough when you can’t be and have to manage the guilt of not being the one. It tests everyone. We’ve gotten through this bout together, taking turns to tend to the sick child that needs us, stopping to hold Laoise when she needs to be held, trying to ease her discomfort and help her through it.
Yes, it’s been a long few days. It’s no fun being the one that the small sick child looks to to fix it all, to make it all better when you don’t know how. But we try, we do our best, and sometimes that’s enough to keep them right, the snuggle of the small one, the middle of the night chats while the drugs kick in with the older one, sitting, holding, watching, waiting. That’s the life of a parent when a little one is sick.