How prepared have employers been for the challenges facing working parents around the...read more
Daughter one is either very down on herself or incredibly crafty. She has spent the whole weekend and early part of the week sniffing and looking generally out of energy. I was feeling similarly out of energy. My partner helpfully suggested anaemia then proceeded to list the symptoms – general lethargy, fatigue, etc. “Do you feel more tired than usual?” he asked. Now, it is very hard to measure tiredness. On a scale of 1 to 10 I am generally at the 10 end most days. How would I know if I felt more tired than usual?
Anyway, back to daughter one. She listed downstairs on Tuesday morning and when I asked if she was ok she croaked “I think so” in a barely audible voice. “You can’t go to school if you can’t talk,” I said. And here was the killer reply: “But you said, Mummy, that you can’t take time off for a common cold” [emphasis on the “common”]. I think this was in relation to daughter two’s more extravagant attempts to get time off maths, but daughter one has taken it to heart or is cleverly using my words against me to gain maximum time off. I can’t decide which yet.
I then proceeded to give her a long diatribe on why people should not go to school/work if they are ill, particularly if they can’t speak and appear to be running a temperature as she seemed to be. This would be great advice if I did not undermine it every time I am sick. I have foolishly regaled the kids with tales of swigging back neat codeine in the newsroom of a local paper rather too liberally when I should have been tucked up in bed and passing out in the toilet. Not perhaps what a sensible parent-like person would do. My defence was that I had a terrible cough and I had to get through numerous phone interviews that day.
As a freelance, it is hard to take time off sick and working from home makes it fairly easy to get on with work unless you are hallucinating. I was talking to my brother in Argentina at the weekend and he was remonstrating against the British work ethic after some article in the paper which apparently said the Spanish were lazy. No, he said, they know what life is about and it’s the British who have got it wrong. I tended to concur, but then we went off at a tangent, talking about how difficult it is to freelance in Europe. That’s because there are stronger employment rights in Europe, said my brother. Freelances have no rights and so they are the cheap option. Certainly in the journalistic world. I read an advert the other day for bloggers to write several hundred words for the princely sum of just over 20 pounds. It may even have been less because I didn’t totally understand the wording. They need a journalist to write it! That’d be £20 and no holiday rights, no days off, no sick days, no pension and no security. You’d literally have to churn out hundreds of those blogs a week to earn a decent wage. Except writing is no longer seen as a main wage job or indeed a skill. It’s an add on that you do in the evenings when you’re bored. Anyhow, you can see that the drift of the conversation was not upbeat.
The mood was lifted somewhat by the girls putting together a fantastic anniversary surprise dinner of tuna pasta bake. My partner and I had almost forgotten we got married. The menus were beautiful. Basically they outlined the dinner we had been prepared, underlining at the end of the menu “You have no choice”. That was daughter one’s touch. Even when sick, there is always the sense that she is so much more in charge than her parents.