“Mum!” said my daughter with trepidation as she rang me from the doctor’s surgery. “Guess what? George has got chickenpox.”
She’d actually taken him because he had a bad cold. But while she was there, the doctor pointed out a small red dot. Within minutes – literally – it had given birth to lots of baby red dots all over my little grandson’s back.
“He seems really well,” says my daughter confused. “Were we like that?”
My mind goes back to when her elder brother refused to eat for three days at the same age as George.
Then I discovered he had eaten half a box of chocolates which I’d been hiding. An hour later he came out in chicken pox spots. In my head, chocolate and chickenpox are still related. Funny isn’t it?
My daughter got it two years later and as for my third, I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember when, or indeed if, he got spotty too. By then, it was all a bit of a blur!
“I can’t take him out anywhere,” wailed my daughter. “Otherwise everyone will catch it.”
What? But in my day we had chickenpox parties so they got it young.
“Really?” My daughter sounds more hopeful.
So she puts out a message on various local Facebook groups asking if anyone wants to catch the lurgy. There are no offers. It’s not the first time I’ve come across a difference in childrearing attitudes!
“I’m going to go mad being in the house all day,” she says.
I share her apprehension…
When you have two small ones, you need to get out or you start climbing the walls. Luckily, the sun emerges so we head for a local beach with lots of sand.
It’s normally one of my working days but I decide that the children need to come first. We’ve had a couple of health shocks in the family recently (luckily resolvable) which have made us all reassess our priorities.
We have a great time! Spotty George gives the seagulls a run for their money by chasing after them – despite us following suit, warning him to be careful. Little Rose and I make sandcastles and then march off to buy ice cream, hand in hand.
“It’s so lovely to spend some time with you, Mum,” says my daughter giving me a hug when we get back, covering us both in strawberry and chocolate.
It is, but I’m already beginning to panic about the next day when I’m with the kids on my own. I don’t like being in solitary any more than my daughter. As regular readers might know, this only happened two weeks ago with a different lurgy. Now once more I can’t go to playgroup. We’ll just have to stick to the open air to make sure we don’t infect the elderly or pregnant mums.
The following morning, George is not happy. No wonder…
The spots are everywhere – even in his ears. He doesn’t want to eat and he doesn’t want to drink. In fact, he is thoroughly miserable.
The only thing he’s interested in is my mobile phone so I give it to him. Whoops! He’s just erased a few emails. Then he spots the biscuit tin. Why not? A little of what you fancy does you good and all that…
So, clutching the entire packet of custard creams, we go down to the sea and walk along the promenade. However, we both attract some funny looks. Not just because of my grandson’s face which looks as though he’s been in a battle – he’s picked a few spots so they’re bleeding – but also because of my eye. I forgot to mention at the end of last week that my left eyelid suddenly swelled up so I had to go to A&E. A rather strict nurse told me it was because I hadn’t taken off my eye make-up properly. Oh dear.
“There’s a thing about that on social media,” said my daughter excitedly when I told her. “Did you know you can get bugs living in your eyelashes if you don’t cleanse thoroughly at the end of the day?”
Great. That’s all I need.
Anyway, you can see why George and I attract some attention as we wend our way home. We might as well have a sign saying “Unclean” round our necks!
Now what to do?
We’ve exhausted the shapes in the box game; his assortment of tractors; and the play kitchen. My little grandson wants to sleep but he’s over-tired and whining. Nor can I take him for a drive to make him nod off because the car is in the garage with a mysterious condition which keeps making it grind to a halt.
And then, just as I heave the buggy through my daughter’s front door and into the cosy but narrow hall, the phone rings. It’s Maggie, a dear friend from the olden days whose grown up children are the same age as mine. She’s calling for a natter. “Is it a good time?” she asks.
“Not really,” I say glancing at George. Heavens! He’s fast asleep in the pushchair. So, after checking he’s breathing alright, I flop on the sofa and my old friend and I have a good jolly good chat.
“I wish I was a granny,” she says wistfully when I finish regaling all our antics. Her reaction makes me count my blessings.
Minutes after our chat, the phone goes again. It’s my husband. “I’ve just thought,” he says. “I can’t remember if I’ve had chickenpox or not.”
We’ve both got to the age where there is no-one to ask. Oh well. What will be will be.
Then the garage rings. “How much?” I gasp when I hear the cost of the bill.
At the same time, George wakes. He starts to cry but then he sees me. His little arms reach out and I hold him close.
Once more, I think of my earlier vow to remember the important priorities in life. Chickenpox, swollen eyes and broken down cars all pale into insignificance compared with my grandchildren’s cuddles.
My daughter has also reminded me how much fun we can have at home without being out and about.
Meanwhile, what are the odds that my husband will come out in spots? I’ll keep you posted…