Do you often do, as I do, and look to the sky and mutter “Why me?” Do you? Well, I’m glad it’s not just me then. School holidays are fraught enough without an ill child, a child that has fallen out with his best friend and is “distort mummy” and a child who has suddenly decided that he’s going to have his Terrible Two’s at age five and one and a half months.
It’s one and the same child by the way.
I realise that I’ve been blessed up until now with a relatively laid back, chilled, cool little boy that lets nothing (except thunder) worry him. I first knew something was wrong when, of the six Easter eggs Mac received, he only ate one. By 6pm on Easter Saturday he was clutching his head, vomiting with carefree abandon, feverish and whimpering. My initial gut reaction was to storm A&E but David calmly administered the Calpol (see, this is one of the benefits of the Older Man), soothed his son and stayed up all night with him. Me? I was relegated to wringing out the flannels and doing some whimpering of my own on the landing.
He was over the worst by the morning and bravely tackled a boiled egg and three soldiers. He looked everso pale and followed David round like a grateful puppy all day – I’ve never felt so useless. Mummies are meant to be invincible aren’t we? Mummies are meant to be able to do anything in the whole wide world. Mac kept shooting me baleful looks as if it was MY fault that he and Ben had fallen out.
Of course, this falling out preceded the throwing up. On the Thursday before Easter Rosie (my labour ward buddy) rang to suggest an outing for the boys (“Ben is driving me INSANE at the moment and I need to get him out of the house before I break something”) and said I could drop Mac off and she’d take him for the day to give me “a break”. Mac didn’t want to go to Ben’s house he said, he was quite happy at home “doodling”. His vocabulary has come on leaps and bounds just lately and, whilst proud of him, I suggested that “doodling” wasn’t energetic enough and that a run round Horniman’s museum would do him the world of good. He refused point blank to go, right up until the point that I put him in the car. I then spent the journey to Rosie’s assuring him that it would be fine and he’d have a lovely day. I gave Rosie twenty quid (assuaging my guilt) and drove home, trying not to think that I should have listened to my tiny boy.
On the way back I stopped off at Sainsburys in New Cross and, coming along Queens Road on my way home, I was flashed at by a police car. I checked my speed and carried on. More flashing and then the blue lights came on. I pulled over, instantly nervous and no doubt looking as if I had ten tonnes of hard drugs in my boot instead of a French stick and some cheese.
“Is this your car?” enquired the Burly Policeman. “Erm yes” I squeaked and then remembered that it was in fact David’s car “Well no, but it’s my husbands and he doesn’t know that I’m using it but I am insured to drive it and…….” I trailed off and wiped my sweating brow. “You’ve got no brake lights” Burly Policeman continued. “Really?” I simpered “I had them earlier!”. Why? Why did I say that? To assure the comely copper that I WASN’T as dippy as hell? Because it didn’t work. “Whether or not you had them earlier madam, you don’t have them now. Have you got far to go?” I assured him I lived a mere hop skip and a jump away and the distrustful little article FOLLOWED ME HOME! Is there no trust any more? Anyway, why weren’t they out catching burglars or murderers?
I rang David and told him to bring two brake lightbulbs home.
Then Rosie rang to ask me to come and collect Mac. She met me on her doorstep, Mac sitting on the windowsill, sulking. Ben was in his room, sulking. Apparently, both boys refused to set foot outside of the house and so Rosie suggested they go upstairs and play. She said she first noticed something was wrong when flakes of ceiling dropped into her bowl of soup. She raced upstairs to find them wrestling on the floor. “The Queensbury Rules were not being observed” she said wryly. After peeling them apart she threw her son onto his bed and told him to stop bleeding on his duvet and mopped Mac up in the bathroom.
Ben “accidentally” hit Mac round the face “with his nails” when he wasn’t expecting it and, in retaliation, Mac “accidentally” smashed a copy of “My First Encyclopaedia” into Ben’s nose. Mac has four scratches running from eye to chin and Ben has a sore red nose and an aversion to encyclopaedias. “I made them apologise to each other, they pretended that they meant it” Rosie added as I banished my boy to my car. “I’m sorry Rosie” I said, horrified. She was very relaxed about the fact that her son may have an altered appearance and was more concerned that I didn’t let Mac’s scratches go septic.
On the way home, mid-lecture on Nunhead Lane, I was flashed again by a police car, this time with his blue lights flashing merrily away and even a “whoop, whoop” on his siren. Mac, no doubt thinking they were coming for him, started gabbling that he was “sorry mummy and I’m going to go home and clean my room even though I am distort”.
You’ve guessed it, no brake lights on my car either. Same Burly Policeman stuck his head through my window and said. “What is it with you and brake lights madam?”.
To give David credit, he didn’t sound remotely fazed to be asked to pick up four bulbs.