Christmas keeps on coming

In sickness and in health, Christmas just keeps on coming.


Christmas is the season of illness. Whether it is the norovirus, the flu or a combination of the two, there is no escaping that end of year, exhausted collapse into sickness, especially when you are outnumbered by young people who are in daily contact with the germ-mill called school.

Out of six, we are now down to two and a half people standing. Only son, daughter two and daughter one, although daughter one has texted that she feels a bit queasy. My partner has been out for the count for nearly a week – he has been reduced to lying on the bed dripfeeding himself Brexit-related discussions and groaning.

Daughter three and I went down second and third. By Tuesday evening I felt like I had come down with the flu/norovirus combo. I got into bed and couldn’t even bring myself to crawl towards the paracetamol as the night wore on. There were moans coming from only son’s bed at some point. My partner went in, but only son started moaning again half an hour later. I dragged myself in. He was lying with three woolly teddy bears on his head [to protect him from the dark] complaining of being hot. He went back to sleep after the teddies were removed. Only son is the only person in the family to have had the flu vaccination.

I noted in passing that daughter three had the fan directed on her, although I thought it might be a hallucination. I got back into bed and wondered if it was the best plan to have a fan on you when you have flu and whether paracetamol might not be a better one. However, I was too ill to get myself back out of bed to turn it off.

The bad news about being a parent is that life goes on even when you are ill and it is usually the most peppy people who don’t get ill when you feel at your very worst. People still need to be dropped at school and picked up. Daughter two has GCSE mocks which means around three exams a day. She has locked herself in her room for the last week, which is probably just as well.

I texted her good luck on Wednesday as I couldn’t make it to a stand-up position. It was Christmas lunch at only son’s school and he was going to a friend’s house after school because I was supposed to be at the office Christmas party. I suggested cancelling so I could meet him at school and hand over the teacher present money which was in only son’s school bag. Only son never ever remembers to hand over money eg school dinner money that is in his school bag. I signed him up for mindful colouring sessions this term. He has not remembered to go once. “That’s why you need the sessions,” I said. “To learn to be more mindful.”

I was feeling pleased that everything was under control, but his friend’s mum texted that he was really excited about having only son over. However, it turned out that her other son had his nativity play that night and her husband was dropping him off at school as she was working. Could I come and pick him up at 5.45 outside the school? She would find the teacher present money in his school bag and give it to the right person. Deal. My partner was on daughter two pick-up so daughter one came with me to get only son. Such are the tangled logistics of family life these days.

We got home. Ping. School alerted us that there was a Christmas party in only son’s class in a couple of days. He needed party clothes, a board game [Fruits Galore!? Where’s the mummy? our ancient Egyptian board game homework was, unfortunately, sat on by daughter three] and a party bag full of snacks. Christmas just keeps on coming at you.

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