Lashes arrives in my bed at about 3am muttering about bad thoughts and headaches. I offer to share my hot water bottle with him, and we go back to sleep, more or less, with requests to check what time it is approximately on the hour, every hour.
7h. The alarm goes off and Oscar starts warbling. I let Oscar out and meet Fingers coming downstairs.
"Ma têeeeeeeteeeeeeee" he wails.
Oscar comes back in and craps on the kitchen floor. I do not notice until Fingers stands in it with his Special Socks on. I will draw a veil over the kind of nuclear meltdown this causes.
A faint moaning sound starts upstairs, getting progressively louder. Lashes.
"Aaaaaaahhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaiiiee" it goes.
"What is it darling?"
I feel foreheads. They are hot and clammy and they both have that slightly fetid, ill smell to them. This is good. This is really good. Monday is one of my work days. Last week I couldn't get in either, godammit. They are paying me to work two days a week but they haven't actually seen me once since my new hours started. I try to take their temperatures, but the thermometer is out of batteries. I estimate "hot".
"Ok, both of you" I say hopelessly "Just lie on my bed while I have a shower".
7h30. I shower and put my work clothes on in some attempt at magical thinking. Ha! I put the children's clothes on. It is long and arduous, since all their limbs have gone heavy and floppy. They wail in outrage for most of the process. Lashes is totally burning up. I surrender to the inevitable.
"Ok, I don't think you can go to school Lashes, but we do have to go and get your stitches out, then go to my work AND we'll have to go to the doctor to get you a note. And you have to let me do my work."
Despite all the conditions, this perks him up no end. I get The Doubt, but it is far too late to backtrack. Fingers starts ululating about the horrific pain he is in. I evaluate this. He is less than convincing, but frankly, what difference will one more make.
"Ok, you too Fingers".
8h00 The good thing about this, is that now I can put the goddam tv on and give up properly on today. I do so, and even get a cup of tea and a giant piece of ladybird cake (arbitrarily requested on Sunday and made by me in some elaborate attempt to get them to be nice to me using the power of sugar and red food colouring. Noone has eaten any of it but me). I email work, promising to give up my Thursday and also to come in and collect piles of Eurotedium.
8h45. The hospital is minutes away. We should have plenty of time to get to our 9h00 appointment.
"Come on boys! Time to go!"
They move at glacial speed towards their shoes and coats. I fidget round in circles looking for keys and cards and all sorts. Oscar, driven wild with bloodlust at the sight of me dressed like an actual member of society, impedes all progress by repeatedly sinking his teeth into my Wolford Velvets. I call him bad names. He enjoys it and does it harder. In this way we waste a good 10 minutes.
9h00. Already late, I locate the car and shove children into it. We set off and hit appalling traffic. It would have been faster to walk. When we get to the hospital hundreds of cars, taxis and ambulances are doing an elaborate gavotte in the narrow street. There is NOWHERE to park. We drive round in circles for ten minutes as the boys suggest I park in front of a wide range of garage doors, and sing along to Just Jack ("It's just another one of those glory days / Step out your house and prepare to be amazed". Ha fucking ha.). About the only thing that is going right is that when I eventually do find a space, I have good parking mojo for once, and do not destroy any cars or bollards and do not have to cry at all.
9h15. We run/limp/drag each other into the hospital. The desk zombie directs me to the second floor. The second floor desk zombie directs me to the fourth floor. The fourth floor is apparently a cupboard. We walk around the cupboard in confusion looking for exits or entrances. Eventually we discover we have used the wrong lift, and go down the bottom to start again.
9h25. We are nearly half an hour late for our appointment, but kindly noone mentions this as they direct us to a waiting room, which appears, confusingly, to be the fourth floor cupboard from earlier. Lashes takes advantage of this downtime to tell us repeatedly that he has TOO MUCH WATER in his eyes. He also asks why we bury dead people and we start an interesting anthropological debate on burial customs. We are interrupted by the nurse.
"I am very scared" Lashes tells her, frankly. She is, mercifully, nice about it, not like the bitch doctor from last time who told him he was a wet chicken (poule mouillée = coward). However, bitch doctor from last time is still in the room in spirit, as the stitches she has put in are so tight, it takes three nurses to hold Lashes while they tease them out. Afterwards, he is outraged that I told him it would not hurt and tells me he will never believe me again. I do not blame him.
10h15. Stop off at the hospital café (lovely) for rewards. Order hot chocolate and juice, spend ages cooling hot chocolate only for Fingers to say he doesn't want it anymore. Lashes has a few half-hearted sips of juice. I start to rant about THE WASTE but stop because they look so feeble and pathetic. We head back to the car and off to work. On the way I impress on both of them how important it is to look ill at work.
"If anyone asks you you have to say how SICK you are. Because if you are running around stealing bulldog clips and eating chocolate, they will all say you are not sick at all and then I will be in BIG TROUBLE. So: no laughing, no running around, no cheek".
"Like this?" Lashes makes a tragic clown face.
"Sort of. Keep trying."
10h40. Trying to park near work is even worse than the hospital. I take what I fear may be a diplomatic parking space outside the foreign ministry and whisper my goodbyes to the car, just in case. Lashes seems to be declining fast, and even the hundred yards to the office is almost too much for him. The sick face is coming along nicely with no artifice at all.
In the office they sit huddled folornly in total silence. At least they actually ARE sick I think to myself. I print of screeds of documents while they ask when we can leave. I try to offer them chocolate but they just shake their heads mournfully at her. Lashes is crying about the water in his eye; I suggest crying will not help with getting less water, but he gives me justifiably short shrift. Euromaster puts his head round the door and recoils at the viral fug they are creating.
"Er, no, no, don't bother coming to talk to me. We'll speak on the phone later".
11h10 Back to car (still there! Truly, the gods of parking are on my side if noone else is today)and back to house. Lashes is the colour of putty with an angry red watering eye. He can't even bear tv and goes to languish in bed and wail. I try to read judgments with no success. The wailing and homicide-inducing sounds of Playhouse Disney are too much for me, and Oscar is attacking my Rupert Sanderson red patent heels with venom. He has never seen me in anything but trainers. I think he thinks I am some kind of well-dressed evil double.
12h30 Noone is hungry but I have to cook for the FUCKING DOG. I make the dog spinach tortellini with ham. This is unlikely to be quite what the crazy dog breeder woman who insisted I must cook for him myself had in mind. I add some chicken, and specially purchased tinned carrots. It looks revolting. The dog agrees. I eat the rest of the ladybird and rest my head on the kitchen counter to weep gently. The children summon me back to tell me about their heads and eyes, and refuse Nurofen.
1h45 We head off to the doctor. Although it is a five minute walk, there is clearly no way either of them is walking anywhere. I get the damn car out of a tiny space and drive it two minutes down the road, where there is NOWHERE to park. I park illegally. We get to surgery (no appointments on a Monday) minutes after it has started, but there are already 4 determined and robust looking old bags waiting. Shit. I curse myself for choosing this doctor. What was I? Homesick for the NHS? It is almost as bad as Dr X in Fitzrovia, who dismissed ante-natal visits as unnecessary and whose desk was buried under 3 inches of fag ash and surgical support garments from the mid 1970s.
3h15 We are still at the doctor's. There are still two old bats in front of us. Lashes is full on screaming about his eyes. Fingers, not to be outdone, says "TÊTE" whenever Lashes stops to take a breath. The old bats are made of extremely stern stuff however, and are not minded to let us go ahead of them. They would rather expose the entire waiting room to the wailing.
4h00 We get in to see the doctor. Lashes has a 40° fever, Fingers only 38.5°. Lashes wins the special prize of THREE DAYS off school. The mention of eye drops sends him spinning over the edge into hysteria, however.
"Nooooooon, pas les gouttes! Aiiiieeee!"
I tell him that "gouttes" do not hurt at all. He reminds me of my lies regarding the stitches. I shut up.
Fingers gets on with breaking the scales. The doctor suggests Lashes wears sunglasses to stop him rubbing his eyes. I have to bite my cheeks not to burst into hysterical laughter.
16h30 The doctor charges me separately for each child, total of €45. Yippee. We head off to the pharmacy. The first one doesn't have anything we need. When I try to put the "gouttes" in at the second, the whole pharmacy gathers to watch the amazing levitating screaming child. His eye is puce. Fingers, in the midst of breaking another set of scales, mentions that his eye has too much water now as well. Obviously.
16h45 We go to the video store for consolation dvds and finally get home. Oscar has mysteriously managed to let himself out of the back room and is in front of the fire savaging my shoes. I am starting to feel seriously flu-y myself. The rental DVDs do not work. I sit in front of my laptop and try to think of a way to tell the Euromaster that my child is off school until Thursday with no alternative child care options, but I come up empty. Every two minutes I have to repair a dvd. The dog has stolen all the duvets I brought down for the children and made a nest of them. Presumably somewhere therein is the lens cap from my new Christmas camera. I ache all over.
I know this is not remotely entertaining; but I am living it, so I thought at least you could read about it.
Postscript: then entirely by chance, I clicked on this (attached to an email from a lovely weepette lady - you know who you are, G) and, just, exactly.