#164 Sick

You’d have to be completely insane to become a parent.

When I was single and childless, I hated getting stomach bugs. It was awful. Horrendous. Back in those halcyon days I had no idea how much worse things could get.

I couldn’t have imagined in a million years how anyone could cope with being ill, and at the same time look after a small child who was also ill.

When I became parent of a small boy, family illness was horrendous. Literally hell. I couldn’t imagine how it could ever be possible to survive an illness with two small children being sick everywhere. Impossible. Inconceivable.

I suppose subconsciously I assumed that if me and my two small children ever did start simultaneously barfing, an alarm would go off somewhere in the NHS and someone would just come and take over. My door bell would ring and there would be the Vom Squad. They would mop my brow and give me fruit tea and shoulder rubs and put the washing on, and they’d take my children away to a secure, regularly cleaned emergency NHS softplay somewhere until I was feeling better. I’d thank them profusely and make them mugs of tea and say how wonderful the NHS is.

Turns out this was not a realistic hope. These days you’re lucky to get attention from the NHS if you wonder into an A and E with your arm hanging off. There probably isn’t the money for home help squads for Dads with dodgy tummies.

I don’t know what time it is. I’ve been awake since four AM when my son emerged from his room covered in sick. The hours since then have been like a scifi horror film. Slowly every member of our family has fallen prey to the bug, each spending time with their head down the toilet.

Small children have the amazing ability to recover instantly after throwing up. I have not. I want to die.

Then something miraculous happens. My two year old daughter comes to me as I wretch, puts an arm around me, rubs my shoulder and asks me if I’m all right. Oddly, magically, this makes me feel all right. In fact, it makes everything all right. Which is, clearly, completely insane.

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