Parents need someone to mop their brows too

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Illness and parenting go together about as well as Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

Maybe you are one of those people who never get ill? In which case I dislike and envy you in equal measures.

If my immune system was a person, it would have flunked its GCSEs, dropped out of college, got fired from the only job it ever had and then gone on the dole for 15 years. It’s useless and we have to have serious words on a regular basis.

So unsurprisingly, having a small child that seems to come home carrying a different strain of the common cold every week doesn’t work out too well for me.

His immune system is excellent – top notch. So while every so often he may be taken down by some bug or another, I can pretty much guarantee that the next day he will have sprung back to life and will be using our sofa – the one he had been so flaked out on 24 hours previously – as some sort of super hero launch pad.

And it’s all very well for children to get ill. They get fussed over, brought bowls of fruit and tucked up under duvets while we lovingly wipe the sick from their mouth and stroke their palling skin back into health.

But then two days later, as is the delayed reaction that comes with age, it gets us parents and then comes the fun bit. Because not only do we not get any of the soothing tones and health promoting goodness that we so tenderly administered two day’s previous, but we also have to carry on with everyday life. Lunchboxes don’t make themselves.

What we would really love to do is disappear under a blanket with a hot water bottle, assume the foetal position and watch reruns of Friends until our white blood cells have finally pulled their weight and evacuated the nasty illness from our system.

But in reality our child, who is now back to full health, is as needy and demanding as usual and we just have to get on with everyday life.

Which of course means getting the kids to school despite feeling like we are about to pass out. It means cooking dinner even though the smell of everything in the fridge brings on a sudden bout of nausea. And it means holding back our own hair from the bowl and then washing our hands and cracking on with the ironing.

Perhaps there could be some government-funded initiative wherein at the point that illness strikes, a Mary Poppins type figure floats down from the clouds, magical umbrella in one hand, large spoonful of strong prescription medicine in the other. She would sing that little tune that she does which makes the clutter jump back into its rightful place before plumping our pillow, kissing us on the forehead and whisking the children off to school.

I’m not sure Cameron would go for it, but maybe if I approach Clegg. He seems like the kind of guy who knows how to get things done. Uh-oh, I think I must be coming over feverish again.