Thursday, 7 May 2009

Parenting is hard, and being seven is even harder

Clearly, since it has been several weeks since we last graced their doors, it must be time for a trip to the local Casualty department, and Lashes sweetly obliges with a gash to the head. I get a call from the gulag in which the school secretary explains to me that while he is Absolutely Fine, I must take my son to hospital. Just To Be Sure. Sure of what? Sure that there is a hole in his head?

I rush down the street and find him wanly standing in the corridor next to a fearsome blonde woman holding a bucket and bloody sponge who again assures me he is Absolutely Fine. He has a giant, ridiculous bandage around his head and he looks all wan and bedraggled. Dirty tearful smudges around his eyes. Poor Lashes. For some reason he has got a rotten combination of the varous elements of our genetic make up that make the CFO break his limbs and me bash into things constantly. Fingers falls over all the time too, but when Lashes does it he breaks. There was the time the CFO dislocated his elbow playing aeroplanes. The time he got a seesaw in the chin. The World's Nastiest Blister requiring antibiotics. The mumps even though he was vaccinated. Croup in the middle of the night, requiring a mercy dash to Whitechapel casualty department, which turned out to be in the throes of an interesting vomiting outbreak. Even as a baby, there was the Crazy Sudden Appearing Rash, that needed blood tests.

"C'est pas mon jour de chance" he says sadly as I crouch down next to him and kiss his grubby cheek. His giant eyes are mournful and uncomprehending. He's right - it hasn't been his week really. Every day when I have collected him some minor tragedy has left him tear streaked and wan. Fingers is a tough egg. When I see him in the playground he's either uproariously playing with a gang of other tough eggs or pursuing some singleminded project of his own devising. Lashes isn't. He's not always on his own, but he might be drawing in a corner, or very cautiously sitting on the bottom rung of the climbing frame. He has this diffident, downcast way of walking towards me across the playground. That he loses and breaks things all the time wouldn't bother me, but it makes him so sad when it happens.

I gather him up, bloodstained coat, and tissues and insurance document to be filled in at the hospital Just To Be Sure, and we head off to casualty.

Here, let me just add a parenthesis about the wondrous nature of Belgian casualty departments. So swift! So kind. So empty of raving lunatics with cans of Tennants Extra. The nurses are kind and efficient. Within 5 seconds of arrival Lashes is whisked away into the paediatriac triage room (British people, try and contain your sobs), assessed as needing two stitches (shit, I shouldn't have told him I didn't think he would need any. In Belgium you ALWAYS need stitches), given anasthetic gel and sent away for 45 minutes until it takes effect.

We repair to the café/gift shop which is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, with Pierre Marcolini chocolates, fresh smoothies, a selection of international magazines and delicious food that is actually better than you get in Pain Quotidien. There is a giant trainset built in under a glass floor that you can operate with buttons on the wall and they can even make cappucinos without squirty cream on top. Through the tears and the pain, Lashes senses an opportunity and makes me agree to buy him a build your own robot T Rex. He wanly eats a ham sandwich and drinks a smoothie and we admire the wrestling cards of ridiculous men in spandex knickers I have also bought him to make me feel better.

"Ok, we'd better be heading back"


"The gel will be working by now, they can put your stitches in"


"What? But you knew! The nurse told you"


And so on all the way back to Casualty where a cheery goblin of a doctor pep talks Lashes into lying face down, wailing all the while. The paper that covers the bed is soon a mass of snot and tears and blood. I stand at the other side, whispering promises of Pokémons and ice cream and dancing karate lizards. After a few more minutes writhing and wailing, it's done, with warnings not to let the dog lick his stitches, or his mates poke at them. The wailing slows to the occasional tremulous sniff. I hand over a Kinder Egg and we are free.

In the ultimate act of parental betrayal, I make him go back to school afterwards. We are received by the hags in the staff room who take the certificate, one of them saying he should be more careful on benches in the future. Eh? You should be more careful around my index finger lady, or I'll be sticking it in your eye. I deliver him to the yard and watch him amble off with a small convoy of ambulance chasers. His receding back makes me want to cry a bit, but I don't.

Now I need a stiff drink.


Ali said...

Poor Lashes. Poor you! I make the husband attend the emergency room if at all possible. I think your lot is much harder. Having to return him to the Gulag would have been awful. He'll be fine, he'll be a celeb all day!

Bath bun said...

The poor boy. It must have been very traumatic for you both - those school secretary/nurse phone calls alone are enough to leave you drained and in need of a drink. Thank god for Cavell and its wonderous cafe though. You definitely did the right thing returning him to school - there is huge kudos attached to visits to the 'urgence' and stitches.

tragicanon said...

poor little mite.. hope he feels better soon.. sorry for my other comment - i hope everything goes alright with your brother...
i remember my mum having a stand up argument with the school nurse about her rather cold fish approach to caring for sick kids.. i felt vindicated at the time - but i can't imagine looking after hoards of screaming kids all day every day for however long she was there for..
still, that Gulag hag sounds plain awful!! and i agree, total celebrity status goes hand in hand with stitches at school - i should know, i had enough..

The Subtle Rudder said...

Next time I strain, stub, or scrape something (it'll be within the week, judging by past performance and inherent gawkitude), I would probably be healed by the mere thought of dancing karate lizards.

I was one of those wan, slender things who moped around playgrounds with a book, always seconds from a bruise to knee or soul. But life toughens you up and leaves a map of where it's been. Tell Lashes I'm so sorry he bonked his head, but that scars give you excellent stories to tell when you're big.

Mutter said...

Poor poor Lashes! I can just imagine his little wan face.
Guffawed at Eh? You need to be more careful round my index finger Lady or I'll be sticking it in your eye.
WV = dismst which is what the Gulag Hag will be if she makes any more stupid comments like that one.

redfox said...

I love Lashes so much. I have the feeling that when he gets older, all his classmates will fall in love with him and be under the impression that they alone have noticed his romantic charms, until eventually they compare notes and realize that he is in fact everyone's crush in the exact same way. Doesn't that sound right?

Once I got chided for being insufficiently careful on benches, when I fell on a concrete one and gashed my shin down to the bone (ick!). After having been chided I took my tearstained self to the nurse. She sighed heavily and said, "I'm eating lunch, can't it wait?" as I stood there bleeding! in front of her! to which I bellowed "NO IT CAN'T WAIT!" Then of course I got dressed down for raising my voice. I'm sure I would have got on better if I had deployed Lashes' big sad eyes instead.

Chantal said...

Ugh, poor Lashes. I hope he has all the dancing karate lizards a boy could wish for.

That hospital sounds STUPENDOUS! Someone needs to tell the Whittington. Or just raze it to the ground.

Btw, coffee/drink/whatever in Norf London: ANYTIME. I am all yours.

The Spicers said...

Poor kid! I hope he was properly rewarded with Pokemon and sweets for his misery.

Liberty London Girl said...

We practically LIVE in the Royal Free between us. Why WHY can't it be like Belgium? Poor lashes. I was him growing up. But my mother nvr really understood necessity of stitches and consequently am covered in scars. LLGxx

Anonymous said...

Aww, poor kid! I hope you're doing okay too, when kids get hurt it's so hard on us, isn't it?

@eloh said...

Poor baby, good that he was able to return to his classmates while there was still freshness in the wound. Kids love that stuff.

I just finished catching up on your blog last night, reading off and on for a couple weeks now. I must say that your love story is epic and worth a publishing, but what do I know. I was once ass pinched by several short Frenchmen at an antique market in Nice, I was waiting for a tall one and ended us Frenchless.

sue said...

Poor little love. Hope lovely Lashes is ok now, he will have been a hero this afternoon, you did the right thing by sending him back to the gulag. Lashes and the child are so alike it's scary. Hope Maman is feeling better too, the phone calls from school reduce me to a gibbering wreck and I am practically on first name terms with triage nurses at the A&E xxx

westendmum said...

Lashes, Harry Potter.
Oh God, poor love, I can't bear it, can't we just wrap them in cotton wool and never let them out.

Miss Whistle said...

Poor baby.
I do think that "C'est pas mon jour de chance" is about the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

monk said...

I also wasn't very careful with benches/car/doors/walls when I was 7, and I wasn't brave enough for stitches, so I have Harry Potter scar. Not so much kudos in the playground when you're my age and a girl; sure Lashes will benefit much more from reflected glory. I'm just damaged goods.

Mr Farty said...

Oh, dear, the poor little - sorry, did you say Giant Train Set Under A Glass Floor? Photos please - mite.

Z said...

But dog-lick is good for wounds. Full of healing microbes. As good as maggots or leeches.

"C'est pas mon jour de chance" is the most adorable and poignant sentence uttered by any child, ever. Lashes has your way with words. I love you both.

katyboo1 said...

Indeed, poor Lashes, and poor you. You were brave. I hate it when I have to take my kids to the A&E, although we have a seperate children's A&E in Leicester with triage and toys and football tables. The food however is crap, and I now want a trainset under the floor.

LLG - I have nightmares about the Royal Free. Was a frequent visitor there until Tilly was two. Best one when she 'drank' some Olbas Oil and on the way there we passed the circus on the heath. She said: 'I don't want to go to the hospital anymore. Let's go to the circus instead.' I so wanted to say yes. Then I cried because I had to say no. Gah.

Jools said...

Poor sweet Lashes. I remember the ER runs. Promising them ANYTHING to get thru it and then they forget the deal! You describe the experience so perfectly. If only there had been decent shopping and smoothies....
Le Pain Q is Belgian? I will enjoy it more now.

GingerB said...

I want to give him Pokemon myself, poor wee boy. I predict you'll have a good story about stitches removal, though.


"I stand at the other side, whispering promises of Pokémons and ice cream and dancing karate lizards."

Oh thank goodness, what a relief. I thought I was the only mom that employed such tactics. Glad to see I am not alone out there riding the bribery train when the poop hits the fan. XD

*hands you a stiff, STIFF drink and then the bottle*

Ladybird World Mother said...

Bloody hell, you write well! Gripped to every word. Poor Little Lashes. I love him already. Will be back!

Waffle said...

Ali - I remember when the CFO dislocated his elbow and had to take him to hospital. Poor man was ASHEN for days.

Bath Bun - Actually he was all 'uuuuuh I don't want them STARING at me'. Weird.

tragicanon - you should have seen them. I knocked on staff room door to deliver them back and they just ignored us for 10 minutes, then came out and scowled and told us off. Crazy bitches.

Subtle Rudder - it makes us more interesting people, right? RIGHT? Or psychopaths. One or the other.

Wife in HK - so sad. Inheriting my coordination. I feel guilty.

redfox - Ack, that is outrageous. I am so glad you shouted. Hope you are right about poor Lashes. He is certainly never short of girls who he says dismissively are "amoureuse de moi".

Chantal - yes. I'll mail you. Coffee! Lots of it.

Iheart - he was LAVISHED with treats including an ice cream the size of his head.

LLG - oh, the odd scar is very attractive I think. thank goodness since I have plenty too. Dispraxics anonymous.

fabbrunette - he's fine. Mournful but fine. It's the parents who need gin.

elohssanatahw - ah, yes, it's quite a tale. but what about an ending? GOD KNOWS. tall frenchmen are very rare. Thankfully I rather like short men. Not too short, Sarkozy style, but shortish.

sue - eventually they will blossom into, uh, shambling adolescents. YIKES.

westendmum - they will be fine. I have to believe it. They are all elastic and young.

Miss Whistle - it certainly broke my heart momentarily. His teacher told me this morning he was mainly pleased about not having to have a bath though.

monk - no! I am sure you're not. I bet your scars are very sweet and affecting too.

Mr F - well, I'm sure it won't be long before the next visit. I'll be sure to bring my camera.

Z - we love you too. lovely microbes. xxx

Katyboo - it ages you ten years each time I think, which makes me about 250 by now.

Jools - yes! It is. Think of me when you go there.

GingerB - christ, the last time was AGONY. Brrr. Pass the xanax.

Bitter Old Bitch - I am swigging deeply. Also I LOVE YOUR BLOG. People; go to the Bitter Old Bitch. She is a fricking genius.

Bee said...

Oh, it is hard being wounded, but I bet he secretly loved the attention. (And yes, the description of the hospital -- with its luxurious cafe -- made me deeply envious.)

lisahgolden said...

That poor little guy. He's got energy and it's not always easy to control and manage. Our son is like that. Stitches two weeks ago. After poison ivy. Now he's got the ague. Still he carries on undaunted because the world's an interesting place and there are things to do, items to create, people to annoy. I mean hang out with.

The hags can get stuffed.

Kate said...

I think I'd like to take a vacation in that casualty department.

Waffle said...

Bee - it is such a good café. We nearly bought a house opposite on the strength of it (and of course, great convenience of being close to casualty).

Lisa - yikes, your poor boy. That's a whole catalogue of ills too.

Kate - yes. I often want to curl up there. It's way nicer, cleaner and fuller of food than my house.

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