Winter, January, coughs, colds, Norovirus. They all come around every year, as regular as clockwork. The dreaded Norovirus rears its head around Christmas time when we are run down from shopping, wrapping, entertaining, being entertained and throwing ourselves into the festive season. It, however, doesn’t leave when the tinsel and baubles have been packed away. It hangs around, like an unwanted and unwelcome guest long into the new year..
I’ve been lucky. The Norovirus has only visited our home once since having the children. Its first visit was for the girls’ first Christmas and it was horrendous. This appalling experience has left me with a legacy of anxiety and panic at every Christmas, birthday and holiday since. I worry that that the girls are going to be ill and will miss out on a special event. It’s the girls’ fifth birthday on Friday and I’m in a major panic. This is because the horrible Norovirus has decided that a visit to my house was long overdue.
It arrived last Monday. The girls were fine when we awoke and I took them to school as usual. It was my English class in the afternoon, and we spent a great hour together counting and making number ladders (I know this is numeracy , not literacy, but we have broadened the remit of our class). They headed back to their classroom and I spent another hour looking at sentence construction (boring but helpful). My class finished and I walked across the playground to collect them. It had been snowing and I had taken the sledge with me. This is a way to win instant brownie points with your kids. Being pulled home on the sledge elicits loud screams,yelps of joy and happy, beaming faces. We all feel good. It also makes the journey home from school easier. Pile kids, pack-lunched boxes and book-bags into the sledge and off we go!
However, I was met by their teacher and two very poorly looking children. They were as white as the snow itself. One of them had just been sick and the other felt sick. “Great! How the hell am I going to get them home?” I groaned to myself. We don’t live far from the school. It’s only two minutes but two minutes with two sick children is two minutes too long. I loaded up the sledge with boxes and bags, held onto their little, mittened hands and set off.
Thankfully, we managed to get home without incident but then a week of hell followed. Looking after sick children is truly exhausting. I became a slave to two small very demanding creatures, with their cries of “Mummy!” constantly ringing in my ears – day and night. And childhood illnesses are crafty. They trick you into thinking your kids are on the mend. They give your children a surge of energy which sees them running around the house. Four days into the illness I found the girls watching a commemorative Olympics DVD (a Christmas present from a relative, I didn’t buy it). We spent the morning reliving the sporting achievements of the summer, and making gold medals and designing kits. “Hooray,” I thought, “they are better.” But they weren’t. They had peaked too soon and had a mid-afternoon dip. This tom foolery continued for a couple of days.
Eventually, the illness ran its course in one of my daughters. It was a welcome relief and respite. Having one sick child to look after may by tiring, but it is a damn sight easier to cope with than two. I took my recovered daughter back to school on Monday. I took her into the school as it was her first day back and she was twinless. I helped her off with her coat and boots, cleared out the mountain of school newsletters from her drawer, and took out her plimsolls. One of them was covered in a suspicious looking, white, dried goo. Was it yogurt? Could it be play clay? Perhaps it was glue? I thought it best to ask my daughter. I wondered if she would remember what it was. She had been absent from school for a week after all. She took one look at her plimsoll and answered in that matter of fact way that young children have, “it’s sick mummy.” A sick-splattered shoe had been left in her drawer for a week. Lovely.