With a nose full of mucous and a body full of aches, I called the three-year-old boss to inform her I was sick. Her incredible lack of compassion was simply offensive.
I offered to set up the iPad next to me in bed, so she could watch whatever movies she liked. All day. While I slept. Seriously, if that’s not an offer from the happiest child lords, I don’t know what is.
Yes, I know. I was dreaming.
The ants in her pants seemed to be prolific today, with each writhe, each wriggle, each bounce on the bed throwing my brain smashing against my skull in a head already clogged and fogged. Lying still was an inconceivable notion for my healthy, full-of-spark boss.
Her demands for food eventually dragged me out of bed. She didn’t seem to worry about my grey complexion, clammy hands and sweaty pyjamas. Apart from the comment, “Why are you still in pyjamas?” she continued on her merry way to the pantry, reminding me of my necessary daily tasks.
For once, I could see the silver lining of being sick: I wasn’t pregnant or breastfeeding, so I could load up on drugs. As Murphy would have it, they were entirely ineffectual – and with a school pick-up looming in the afternoon, I didn’t want to try dosing up again and ending up drowsy behind the wheel. So I pushed forward with a delectable diet of water, green tea and the occasional dry biscuit.
Meanwhile, Miss Three chose musical instruments as her preferred activity. I swear, on the previous (two) times I’ve offered to have a bit of a bash on the tambourine or a strum on the ukulele she has displayed complete indifference. Today, while my ears rang from the inner workings of this bug and whatever army my body had sent in to fight it, my daughter escalated the decibels. It reached fever pitch when she brought out her Wiggles guitar. The repetitious Fruit Salad song was making me nauseous, just to add to the delirium.
I creaked my sore and sorry body down to the laundry and put on a load of washing. A welcome reprieve from the head-bashing concert. She followed. Of course she did!
“Where are we going today?” she chimed. “Can we go to the park now?”
“No. Today’s a pyjama day!” I answered in the most upbeat voice I could muster, trying to make it sound appealing to a three-year-old who had given up day sleeps eons ago.
“You don’t wear pyjamas in the day!” she said, almost with an eye roll. I’m sure she wonders how she ended up with this dopey mother who doesn't seem to know anything.
“Today’s a bit special. Mummy’s sick so we’re staying home, in bed and resting. You can do whatever you like! As long as it’s not noisy because that might hurt my sore ears, and not bouncy because that might hurt my sore body.”
Her eyebrows said, “Dream on, sister.”
I enlisted a new tactic. I was very aware that my chances of getting her to wait on me hand and foot were slim, but I gave it a red-hot go.
“How about we play a game? It’s called nurse and patient. I’m the patient, so I lie in bed sick, and you’re the nurse. You could even get your doctor’s kit and come and check on me. But first you need to go and get some paper and a pencil and I’ll draw the things I’d like you to help me with.”
Genius! I couldn’t quite believe how fantastically brilliant that idea was, particularly coming out of my malfunctioning brain.
Off she bounded, like Tigger on speed, to the desk. Thirty seconds later: screaming and tears. Jammed finger in the desk lid.
Expletive (from me, not her).
I tried calling out to have her come to me so I could give her the specialist therapy of ‘kiss it better’, but she couldn’t hear me over her own screaming.
I dragged my saggy pyjama a*se down to the desk where she sat howling and jammed. Guess who became the new patient?
I wonder if she would have accepted my application for a sick day if I’d had a doctor’s certificate?
How do you cope when you’re sick with young children at home? Comment below or in the Essential Baby forums.
Her dream of becoming a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson quashed by a distinct lack of talent, Kylie Orr was forced into a day job of writing. See more at kylieorr.com.