Singing lessons (and biting)

family & parenting / Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

He’s been ill again, Boy2. Since last week. Though I wouldn’t want you to think he hasn’t been cared for, cleaned, cuddled, Calpol-ed and, when appropriate, seen by medical professionals, I was kind of in denial.

I kept an initial low profile for a few reasons. Firstly, because it isn’t fair to go into too much detail about his health or define him as sickly which I’m afraid even mentioning another illness will do. Secondly, our family experiences with him in hospital have pretty much scraped away all my reserves and confidence as a mother for the moment. And thirdly because I’ve a new four-headed approach to the mornings where I wake up and he’s anywhere between not-quite-right, and oh-shit-it-could-all-go-wrong-again.

I approach those mornings with a cocktail of bravura (sick? call this sick? pah, no ambulance no need to panic, he’s breathing isn’t he? well then: NOT SICK), superstitious optimism (not again, if we don’t say he’s ill, he won’t be, if I smile and find a reason for everything he won’t be sick again), wild-eyed panic about ‘real’ life (he CAN’T BE ILL AGAIN because everything really will collapse this time) and benign negligence (it can’t be the nano norro-virus, no-one else is ill).

It took him three days, where we were lucky enough to cash in favours and fiddle around with timetables and take care of him without missing work, before he rammed his point home. He gave me his puking winter virus, circumnavigating my matronly faith in hot soapy water and expensive bio-gel, by projectile puking it in to my mouth.

Well done Newborn, point made: proof of the pudding is, I found, seeing it leave your body and then having to breastfeed whilst kneeling over the toilet bowl. Nicely done, refusing Dioralyte (it is fucking disgusting) and formula (who wouldn’t if they could have beleaguered boob on tap?) and reducing me to my bed armed, next to him, with only a bowl, some baby wipes and a Blackberry to keep us entertained.

I never realised what beauty was until this morning. Beauty is lying in bed with someone whose face enchants through the floating dust, in a darkened bedroom which smells suspiciously of sick, but is crucially (the face that is) pinkening up and smiling after being pale for 48 hours. Beauty is the sunshine glancing off a too-skinny baby’s sharpened cheekbones and an unexpected giggle on a Tuesday morning when you are in bed for the second day and have too much to do to be laid out. How I wish I could have captured his face, his sweaty sticky hair, his slightly sunken eyes, his mirth regardless somehow to keep forever.

This isn’t the first time an illness of his has offered me respite: joyful stolen hours with this second son of mine on a day when we both should have been somewhere else. But between retching we had so much fun. We’ve played a game of show and tell.

I discovered he now knows all the actions to ‘Wind The Bobbin Up’. And he’s learnt that my extra special ‘elephant sneezed – aaaahchoo’ action when singing ‘I went to the Animal Fair‘, is the funniest thing that any mummy has ever done at any point in the history of the world ever.

Seeing him sing, I almost shed more tears for all the days I miss. For every day I’ve not sat with him on my knee mothering him and keeping a note of what he gets better at day by day. The blur of the bigger family has barely the time for such intricacies. But I couldn’t get emotional, because he picked that moment, my momentary stocktake to bite me. At first, I felt this a symbolic gift. He’s shocking me out of useless regret I thought. But alas no, it was a different lesson from fate: beware of the hype of benevolent neglect.

Six days of puking takes its toll. After sinking his teeth into my arm, he rolled out of bed and and backwards bum-wriggled downstairs. Another lesson: if he’s hungry enough, he will either a) bite me or b) walk to the kitchen, pull an Ella’s squeezie out of the corner cupboard and throw it on to his high chair with feeling.

He’s pretty direct, my second son. I can’t wait for him to start talking.

3 Replies to “Singing lessons (and biting)”

  1. I'm glad you are recovering (and that you had a bit of time off the conveyor belt to spend time together) – you do realise that we now are crying out for you to video the elephant sneezing thing???

  2. Lovely as usual.
    I do hope Newborn is Ok?
    Sometimes I feel like your writing is a bit like a piece of elastic, it can be tight, springy, and zingy, or long and stretchy… it is very rude of me to say this but I am inspired by Mark from the Bike Shed who always leaves such totally honest comments on my blog which I appreciate so much!
    Over the past 6 months I have been writing a magazine column and I have had to stick to 500 words, at first I found this frustratingly impossible, but now I find it really helps – once I have said my piece I have to go over and over it and cut out precious words and sentences, it's painful, but then, suddenly, the copy is BETTER! I was so shocked to discover this!
    Anyway, I hope you don't dislike me intensely now for my constructive criticism. As you know, I am a massive fan of your writing!
    Love to you xxx

  3. The Mule – the comment got stuck so it wasn't published. Sorry! I agree actually, and know I should cut down and edit better. My writing is rather rangey and I think I'm a victim of having so little time that I just put up the most decent thing I can create in the time I have.

    There is a lovely anecdote I was told at University although I've never been able to verify it so it could be an urban myth. It runs like this: Tolstoy writes a 12 page latter to a friend, he signs off by apologising that he didn't have time to write a shorter one. I love it and totally agree.

    I don't mind the constructive criticism at all. x

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