The last few days have been a bit of a challenge… the type of challenge only a parent can fully appreciate.
At the end of last week, I agreed to look after a friend’s dog. I knew the kids would be thrilled, as they adore him. What I hadn’t anticipated, was the chaos that was to follow…
After school I raced the kids back home, so that they could have a good run around the park with the dogs. And that’s when it happened. The dog jumped up at the eldest and caught him in the eye.
Like most mothers, I am very tuned-in to my children, and as my eldest is prone to hysteria, his reaction did not surprise me. Sobbing and yelling, I dragged him into the house to have a look at his eye. It was clearly very sore, but other than being a bit pink, I couldn’t see anything.
He sobbed his way through supper and as my nervous system was feeling close to breaking point, I sent him to bed.
That night, I had a ‘not so little’ visitor. He crawled into bed, intermittently crying because his eye hurt, and wriggling like a sack of eels. Having been tired to begin with, and despite my sympathy for him, I could feel myself really losing patience.
The following morning, I gave him the classic ‘play date’ ultimatum. The one where you explain that they can’t have their play date if they don’t go to school…!
It works every time. He went to school. But I started to worry that the eye might need checking. Alas, our optician was not around that day, and the lovely receptionist persuaded me that I should take him to the eye hospital to get it checked.
Having off-loaded the little one, I collected the big one and drove to the other side of the City to the eye hospital. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, the paediatric A&E department didn’t have a doctor. Luckily, after two hours hanging around, a doctor from another department saw him. When I discovered that he had a bad scratch across his cornea, I was rather relieved that the ‘gung ho’ mother in me had been exorcised by the optician’s receptionist.
Antibiotics and an eye patch later, we set off to collect the little one and managed, by some miracle, to make it to the play date.
However, halfway there, I had a phone call from the hospital asking me to return on Monday morning for a review. They had checked the big one’s Tetanus status, but were still concerned about infection.
Having spent four hours on a Friday afternoon on the first visit, I was not looking forward to a repeat performance.
Little did I know what I had in store…
Having dropped the little one at the school bus, I drove off across town to the eye hospital.
All the way there, my eldest jibber jabbered next to me. He’s one of those inquisitive kids for whom “sorry, I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. He will repeat a question in about three or four different ways to try and get the response he wants. As much as I love him, I do find this irritating at 7.30 in the morning.
With the thought of an endless wait in A&E and heavy traffic to contend with, I could feel my stress levels slowly rising.
In total, the wait in A&E was three hours, despite having arrived half an hour before it opened.
As my tolerance levels drained away, I was subjected to: the child from hell bashing every noisy toy he could find, whilst his parents looked on lovingly; a father, with a voice like a fog horn, who felt the need to shout into his mobile phone; and having to watch the only doctor at the unit having a good chat with a colleague, whilst we all sat waiting.
And then, the final straw. Noisy Irritating Child decided he wanted a video. The Incredibles was in the machine. Great film and lovely distraction, I thought. But Noisy Irritating Child wasn’t happy with it. Oh, no! Noisy Irritating Bloody Child only wanted Alvin and The Chipmonks!
As the hideous child screamed and shrieked with excitement, my son took one look at me and grinned from ear to ear.
“Why are you smiling, I thought you hated Alvin and the Chipmonks?” I enquired.
“I do. But I know how much more you hate it!” came his evil retort!
For the first time that morning, as I threatened to rip my ears off and gouge my eyes out, to spare myself the torture that is Alvin, both my son and I really laughed.
Two minutes later, the doctor finally saw us. My son was banned for a week from all contact sports and swimming and told to go for a check-up with the optician in a week’s time.
By the time we got back to school, it was past lunch time, and the head teacher said he should just go home, as there was a sports lesson for most of the afternoon.
My son, who was of course feeling back to himself again, was ecstatic! I was drained and knackered – but nonetheless relieved that I had taken the trouble to get his eye checked. It had been tiring and stressful and I managed to achieve absolutely nothing else on those days…
But heck, when my son dragged me onto his bed for a goodnight kiss and cuddle; said ‘thank you Mum’ for taking him to the hospital, letting him eat junk food and getting him a whole day off school; and told me he loves me; that was the moment that made the stress just disappear.