Monday, 12 October 2009

growing up pain

Well I said I would keep you posted and the absence of a post last week says it all.

As Snooks recovered from his bout of whatever it was – we are never fully sure what he is suffering from; parenting involves an awful lot of guesswork - the Engineer went down with the cold he had had and I got the sore throat. Snooks kept the teething pain just for himself.

Considering the misery these inflicted on each of his parents I can only commend Snooks for his courage on having suffered all three at the same time. And indeed this powerlessness to do much about any of his suffering is probably the most painful part of it all for me.

The agony of watching him gag every time he ate, washing sheets stained with blood from his mouth where he had chewed ulcers during the night, bathing him standing with his arms around my neck because immersion in water had become unbearable for him, all surpassed any discomfort caused by my inflamed tonsils.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not good with pain. I don’t suffer in silence and I certainly am not a willing subscriber to the theory that pain is good for you, though I have reluctantly come to believe that some pain in life is necessary.

I remember one mumfriend jokingly telling her six month old, “No pain, no gain” as she yanked a rather tight but very stylish dress over her daughter’s big baby head. She is Italian. The dress mattered.

No. The only venture The Engineer and I made outside last weekend was to buy more paracetamol having crunched our way through all our supplies. We had to make separate trips as supermarkets restrict the number you can buy in one go (as if this is really going to stop anyone taking the lot if they really had that in mind) and we wanted to be really stocked up. This one looked like it was going to last.

Meanwhile, having finally cottoned on to how grim poor Snooks must have been feeling, I was regularly dosing him with Calpol (sometimes interspersed with Nurofen) backed up with Cadbury’s Buttons and breastmilk.

As Snooks appeared to be on the mend by Monday I decided to make our regular trip to the Toddler Gym where he loves to witness the bouncy castle go flat – an event he recounts for days afterwards - only to find the torrential rain I have been waiting for all summer had finally arrived. (I have a soft spot for rain, which I put down to my origins in the north.)

Suddenly filled with a sense of responsibility for all our health (an illusion brought on by lack of sleep) I opted to drive there, believing this to be the grown up thing to do. My natural instinct was to walk, as I always do and as people in Manchester always do when it rains, because it rains there all the time.

However here in London I was right. It was the grown up thing to do and all the grown ups had done it, filling the leisure centre car park to overflowing with SUVs and forcing me to park two streets away, carrying Snooks, coatless, through the driving rain.

At home, as I undressed a howling Snooks, furious at being woken from his rain-soaked slumber in the warm car, I was about to admit defeat and would have burst into tears had my lovely niece not arrived just at that moment with her almost equally lovely boyfriend .

I was expecting them, and had also been expecting to be dressed (nope), dry (nope) with Snooks either asleep (nope) or dressed (nope) and ready to go for a nice walk on the common, kicking the football all the way to a lovely café which serves excellent food and the best coffee in London (nope, nope and nope). I was going for Effortlessly Elegant Mother and Cool Aunt, with a hint of Edgy Londoner thrown in.

Instead, lovely niece found a teapot and tea and put the kettle on our 1950s (not retro, just ancient) stove and lovely boyfriend (he had qualified within seconds of our meeting at the front door) read The Tiger Who Came to Tea to a mesmerised Snooks, while I got dry and dressed.

Later, as we trawled across the common – we did the walk, rain notwithstanding – I told them about the night, when my niece was a very little girl, that I was bunked down in her bedroom and she got out of bed and put a blanket over me because I kept sneezing.

I wonder what they are up to this weekend?

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