Help! The family has been hit by chickenpox.
The chickenpox has hit and ‘peachy number one’ is covered in red spots. They started on his neck and brazenly marched across his entire body, like a politician on a mission. It’s a good thing that he can’t count beyond ten. The itchiness hasn’t yet started so I’ve adopted the strategy of laying low in the hope that if we don’t tell him not to itch that it will never enter his head to do so. Fingers crossed this works.
Secretly I think ‘peachy number one’ considers the chicken ‘spots’ as he calls it, to be rather fun. It has helped that Peppa Pig, his number one TV show, recently ran a programme in which Peppa was struck down with the pox too. This has catapulted the whole illness into the realm of the super cool. Being off nursery for a whole week, eating smarties on the sofa and watching endless CBeebies has aided the cause.
On the downside, the whole episode leaves us with the problem of childcare. How do you handle work commitments when the children are ill? The problem is exacerbated in this case by the fact that chicken pox is particularly contagious and yet there are two very differing parental views towards it.
On the one side I’ve got my friends queuing up wanting to deliberately infect their child in the knowledge that once it’s done that’s it and it is so much kinder to the children than when you reach the age at which Botox is a necessity. This group are the ‘cruel to be kind’ brigade and are chomping at the bit to slam their kids through the whole cocktail of mumps, pox, coughs and wheezes as soon as possible, crossing them off as if they were racing through a shopping list. On the opposition bench are those who would consider you to be the most irresponsible parent going if you dared step foot outside your home and would happily burn you at the stake should you infect their child or show their spotty face in public.
This puts us in a tricky position. We are left weighing up the relative merits of quarantine v mass infection whilst also wondering how to balance childcare with work commitments.
I’ve recently read some research by Liz Morris, an HR consultant and researcher specialising in gender diversity who suggests that whilst more women now work this hasn’t changed the responsibilities of childcare which still largely fall into women’s laps. According to her study, this has created the ‘double burden of work and childcare’. I am starting to understand what she means by this. My only solution – is the grandparents. Can I delegate care of the chicken pox to them? I can’t find any literature on the do’s or don’ts of this. Queue a carefully placed phone call … let’s hope they’re up for taking spotty kid down to the countryside for the week … and yes it seems they are most accommodating. Hooray we have triumphed over first childcare challenge – solution, remove child from home. Toodle pip, calpol to administer and country bag to pack.