I have an ill child at home.
Tallulah has succumbed to an evil sickness bug which has been doing the rounds at schools across the county for the last few weeks.
I have been charting its progress via the Facebook status updates of various friends, and wondering if we live far enough outside of the circle of infection to dodge the bullet.
She woke up in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, having thrown up all over the bed clothes.
Fellow parents will know what an absolute joy this is.
The hours between two and three a.m. are the ones in my experience where it takes you as the parent longest to climb out of the torpor of sleep and start being coherent, but are also the ones in which if a child goes down with something deadly, they will be at their most distressed. A combination of pitch dark, the possibility of zombie invasion up the stairs if you leave your bedroom to find a vaguely responsible adult, and the feeling that you are dying, mixing to a heady whirl of hideousness and wailing.
Then there’s the vomit strewn bedding to deal with. It’s no good scrunching it all up and whipping it into the washing machine on a boiling hot wash. I have tried this.
All you get, when you open the machine, is boiled and ‘clean’ chunks of whatever foods they ate, in a parcel of cotton which still has a vague whiff of death and nausea about it. Sicky bed linen must be de-chunked first, before the washing machine can do its magic.
That’s something they don’t tell you in parenting magazines full of cutesy pictures of happy children romping through puddles in brightly coloured wellingtons, followed by their indulgent parents.
We are now on day two of the bug. There is less vomiting today, but she is too hot, too quiet and incredibly lethargic. She is not following me round the house moaning at me because I won’t let her eat anything, which is a sign that the illness still has its claws in her. If she were getting better I would be being driven to absolute distraction by now.
My sympathy for her is being eroded, entirely selfishly, by my worries about what will happen next.
It is the law of sod that your children rarely come down with an illness all at once. In the case of stomach bugs/sickness, I have always considered this a blessing. I do not have enough bed linen and towels to cope with three puking infants at once.
It does mean however that this could run and run, possibly up to half term, with children dropping like flies, one after the other.
I am usually resigned to my fate, but with a trip to Copenhagen, sans children in the offing, I am worried that I will be leaving my poor mother with at least one, if not two, vomiting children to take care of, as well as a demanding cat, a suicidal tortoise and my dad, who does not do vomit, either his own or anyone else’s.
I am also worried that on Tuesday, when I should be soaring towards Denmark, light of heart, full of anticipation and with my cake fork poised for action, I will be throwing up all over Stansted airport and relying on industrial strength plastic bags and Immodium to get me through rather than Chanel No 5 and a credit card.
That’ll learn me.