Saturday started off as it should have. We’d had breakfast and my daughters were watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on TV whilst I washed and cleared the dishes away. When I’d finished, I took my hot water and lemon (this is not some health kick I’m on. I can’t stand tea or coffee) into the living room to drink and catch the end of the show.
“Mummy, my tummy feels tickley,” announced on of my daughters. “I’ve scratched it and it’s left red marks on it.” I reached across, lifted her pyjama top and…”No, No, NO! I thought you’d already had this!” There, staring me in the face, were the tell-tale signs of Chicken Pox.
I lifted her gently onto the carpet and carefully undressed her. Yep, it was Chicken Pox alright. “I think you have Chicken Pox,” I told her. This news didn’t get the response I was expecting – she burst into tears and started howling. “It’s ok, it’s ok,” I said trying desperately to calm her down. Her twin, sensitive soul that she is, took this as her cue to strut around the living-room doing chicken impressions. “That’s really not helpful,” I said. But, apparently, it was. My daughter stopped sobbing hysterically and started to laugh hysterically instead. Five year olds, eh?
I checked the strutting daughter for spots but, thankfully, she was pox-free, and then headed off to the Chemist’s. “I think my daughter has Chicken Pox,” I said to the Pharmacist. “But I thought she’d already had them. Could you check, please?” The Pharmacist had a quick look, confirmed my fears, and suggested that I bought a bottle of Chamomile Lotion. I guess if it ain’t broke… She also said it was possible to catch Chicken Pox twice, although it was more likely to have been mis-diagnosed the first time. As I’d diagnosed it, this was more than likely.
We headed home, a little wiser and a little poorer. “As I’m ill with the Chicken Pox, can I go to the toy shop and get a toy?” asked my daughter. She’s never one to miss a trick. “How about a comic?” I replied. Two comics and two gingerbread men later we arrived back home with my purse considerably lighter. Have you seen the price of children’s comics?
My daughter was well, apart from the spots, until mid-afternoon. Then she developed the tell-tale signs of a virus that all parents dread. She sat on the sofa with her little checks a brilliant shade of pink, her blue eyes red-rimmed and watery, and her nose glistening with snot. She also had a temperature. She also insisted that I sit with her and must not under any circumstances leave her side. Need to the toilet? Tough, cross you’re legs Mummy.
Eventually, she fell asleep with her head in my lap. We let my other daughter stay-up later than usual. This was partly as my husband and I were exhausted from looking after a sick child. It was also because we were exhausted from dealing with my well child’s constant whingeing about not getting any attention. “Why does she get to have someone sitting with her all the time? Why doesn’t anyone sit with me?” she constantly sulked.
Finally, it came to the time when the well -child really needed to go to bed. My sick daughter woke briefly and the pair hugged and embraced as if they were parting to opposite sides of the world for a year. Then, to ram home the fact that we were terrible parents in insisting they go to bed separately for once, they stretched their arms out to each other and stared at me and my husband with tear-filled eyes.
My husband took our well daughter to bed, tucked her in and read her a story, As he switched the bedroom light out she told him, “I don’t like going to bed on my own. It makes my heart hurt.” Her words made ours heart too.