Friday, 23 October 2009

La grippe, la grippe, la post-nasal drip

At home with poorly eldest child. Somehow the dog has claimed the sofa and duvet, Lashes has my chair and I am sitting on the floor, with a hot clammy hand on the back of my neck, trying to get me to concentrate on the finer points of Ben 10 Alien Force. The heating is on full blast and the house smells of clementines.

In a hangover from my full time working days in London, and in defiance of all logic, days like this feel rather cheerfully like skiving. When Lashes was tiny and I was a proper lawyer, the moment when the nursery rang (every couple of weeks without fail) to say he was running a fever, aroused conflicting emotions. Guilt and anxiety were generally outweighed by a sneaking satisfaction that I could have a day, maybe even two, sneaking around the West End with my baby semi-legitimately. Often he would be just ill enough to be off nursery, but not ill enough to be more than slightly subdued - swathed in several layers and impassive, clutching an inappropriate snack in a hot fist. I have happy memories of furtive trips to Coram Fields to poke the sheep, wandering round the African Galleries at the British Museum looking at videos of hippo dances and pottering along Marylebone High Street celebrity spotting. I was 27 and a bit of a rubbish parent, but these snatched moments were actually quite a treat and it was very reassuring for me to realise I would rather play hooky with my boy than deal with fertiliser mergers. Later, when we lived in Spitalfields and he was, what, 3? I remember taking him for ice cream for his breakfast in Patisserie Valerie when he had mumps* a day so special he still talks of it reverently.

It's not the same now - we are 6 hours and counting into a Ben 10 Alien Force marathon and I can feel my brain liquifying and running out of my nose - but I still rather like it. All bets are off, there's no expectation that we'll manage to do anything remotely productive. We can eat whatever we fancy and watch tv and lie on the floor. Do you remember the bliss of being sick as a small child, if you weren't too sick? In my house it meant melon and orange juice and sorbet in bed, and mid-afternoon you were allowed to take your duvet downstairs and sit on the sofa to watch children's tv. Everyone should still be allowed to do that when they're sick. I would totally pay extra tax to have someone motherly come round and make me tea and toast and a hot water bottle, and I bet I'm not alone.

This is very dull, sorry. The unresolved sexual tension between Kevin and Gwen is stopping me from concentrating and everytime the one with a sort of fiery head booms "ABJECT CREATURE!" I think he's talking to me. Then I just turned round and there's some sort of scorpion driving a spaceship. I'm confused and tired, having been up several times in the night doling out Nurofen, or possibly dog worming pills or shampoo, it was dark and I couldn't be bothered to find the light switch. I'll try and return later with something a little more edifying.

* Yes, he was vaccinated, but unlucky. I am not a raging hippie.


indigo16 said...

I loved it too when my kids were ill, because I did not bother with Calpol I would let their temperature soar as high as possible, this subdued them to such an extent that we once managed to go out for a meal and enjoy it, whilst Daisy sat comatose in a highchair with her eyes glazed. Utter bliss.
She is 17 now and I am no better at caring for her or the others.
As for my childhood illness, if you had my mother you quite frankly would have dragged your carcas to school rather than endure the bitter tirade about the state of the bedromm that we got. Oops I feel a Four Yorkshireman sketch coming on!

redfox said...

Yes, it was always lovely to be home sickish. Often I'd be bundled off to my grandmother's, where she would feed me sausages and ginger ale before I toddled off to sit in a gigantic leather armchair and watch dreadful but soothing educational television all day. Cinnamon toast cut in triangles and tea as a snack. (I wouldn't mind some of that right this minute, and am even getting over a cold, so I really deserve it!)

Mr London Street said...

Any post which references Guys And Dolls is okay in my book.

Anonymous said...

Totally dull for me being sick when I was a kid. For the most part I was fit as a fiddle when at home and saved any sickness for being back at school where you were promptly dispatched to sick bay (except it wasn't called sick bay - what the hell is the word?) and ignored. I was determined to die just so that they would be really *really* sorry.

Anonymous said...

Previous comment 'twas me, Fran.

Laura said...

I would go round to my Aunties house and drink lucozade and be given soup for lunch. Bliss...

Chic Mama said...

Confession, I love it when they are slightly lethargic with a temp then you have an excuse to snuggle up together and do nothing.....cruel?

Unknown said...

Love the Guys and dolls title too. Get well soon-ish Lashes!
Yes, I'd pay good money for a motherly figure to look after me when I'm under the weather... (My Ben 10 Alien force would be Sondheim videos, so I'd have to pay someone mega bucks!) xxx Lots Of love x

Margaret said...

If you were can't-get-out-of-bed sick, my dad would hump the TV into your bedroom for the day, and Mom would make tea and toast. I once stayed home with the flu and got to watch Bette Davis Week on WOR's Four O'Clock Movie.

The last time I got sick, my husband went all Jewish grandma and made me chicken soup. He actually got up early on a Sunday, went out and bought a freaking CHICKEN and vegetables and made soup.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Oh yes, definitely a bed on the sofa and tomato soup and toast with too much butter on it and marks and spencer's chocolate mint biscuits, the kind that came in a green foil wrapper and all sorts of other things that we were never allowed when we were well. Being ill as a child was a fabulous Brucie bonus. Not to mention the undivided attention of one's mother and the cool, damp flannel on the forehead. Though the minute one turned from sick child to querulous invalid it was all over.

L. said...

This was a lovely post.

I don't have a lot of memories of fun times home sick as a kid. Maybe I was the type to either get really sick or not at all. But I am all afire with the idea now with the need for a rent-a-mom service. Someone to come over and coddle you, yes, I like that idea.

Since my oldest is just 2.5 we don't really have "fun" sick days just yet but, at the same time that I feel terrible for him when he's really poorly, I also enjoy the chance to snuggle him, since normally he's having none of that.

bevchen said...

When I was really little I got to snuggle up on the sofa with a blanket and watch crappy daytime TV. From about the age of 8 I was banished to my bed though. Mind you, by that stage if I only had a minor illness I'd be packed off to school anyway, so if I was ill enough to actually be kept at home I'd be perfectly happy to stay in bed.

We used to get cheese on toast and ovaltine when we were recovering. I still think of cheese on toast as a comfort food.

westendmum said...

I remember feltips and colouring book in bed with tea.
You sound like a mummy I'd like to be sick with! Bugger about the vaccination not working for mumps, poor mite.
WEM xx

Soda and Candy said...

I literally do not remember being so young that someone had to stay home with me when I was sick. But the way you described it makes me think of the wonderful coolness of the other side of the pillow.

Also "clutching an inappropriate snack in a hot fist" - wonderful.

Inkey41 said...

Yes, I remember sick as a child. Mommy making homestyle egg nog or toast in milk, soft boiled eggs with toast fingers, or...depending on the ailment. Being fussed over and specially cosseted--not easy when you are one of four children, unless you are sick. Snuggling in bed with a special book. [I was a pre-tv kid. By the time TV was introduced to our home, I was too old for childhood illnesses.]
There was radio, tho, with "Let's Pretend," "Sergeant Preston," "Sky King," "My Friend Irma," all manner of drama and comedy sitcoms--much different and very alien to today's radio broadcasts. If you're too young, you wouldn't understand the wonder of it. The best part, however, as I think Lashes will one day remember, was all the Mommy time.

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