We have a great rapport with the staff at our local A&E. They welcome us with bright smiles, ‘How are you’s’ and they know the middle names of our kids. We are offered coffee, bottled water and even the waiting room TV remote.
‘What service!’ I hear you cry. ‘Which hospital do you use? Because the receptionists at our local are a right sullen bunch!’
Well, hold yer horses. The only reason our relationship is so good is because our sons are completely accident prone. Yes. Sadly, I’m not talking a trip to the A&E every couple of months for the usual domestic mishaps. I’m talking several times a month for patch ups – and always on a Friday.
December just passed is a good example. The toddler had been ill with a fever. I’d held off making a doctor’s appointment. Experience told me it was viral and it would burn itself out. Only it didn’t. On day eight (a Friday evening) it suddenly got worse. Food was refused and our turbulent ball of energy lay on the couch, as clammy and wan as a Charlotte Bronte heroine. ‘That’s it! I’m really worried now. How much more Calpol can we administer?’ I told long-suffering DH. ‘I’m taking him to A&E.’
A little later – right in the middle of the consultation – the virus burned out. Up bounced my now pink-cheeked child, energy restored. At the exact moment I was explaining to the pediatrician that ‘he really was ill’ a plant pot was being upended in the waiting room, a female patient’s handbag was emptied of all contents and loud cries of ‘I want raisins!’ echoed down the corridor. I shuffled out red-faced. Clearly, I was a neurotic time-waster.
Little did I know that two hours later we’d be back, only this time with oldest son.
DH (the soft touch) had allowed him to stay up and wait for us to come home. Humph! I frog-marched both boys to bed amidst over-tired screaming and sat down to relax. But the storm continued overhead. Soon objects were being hurled about upstairs, along with banshee-like shrieks. Worried for the safety of both children locked in the vortex of their double tantrum, I went to check. What a mistake. The exact same moment I opened the bedroom door, oldest son happened to be right behind it. The sharp latch caught him on the forehead and spliced it clean open.
‘Er’ hello!’ we’re back!’ This time, we all shuffled into the waiting room, DH restraining the squirming toddler, and me, blood splattered and holding a wad of tissues to Oldest son’s head. Two sedatives (for me), four hours and five stitches later, we finally made it home again. It was 2am.
The next day, drained and exhausted, I decided – foolish woman that I am – that we all needed cheering up. ‘I know, let’s put up the Christmas tree!’ I cried, with no small amount of manic desperation. Like something from a Martha Stewart special, the boys unusually angelic, laughed in delight at the many baubles and garlands reappearing from their annual hibernation.
Far too quickly, a warm, festive glow settled over me; a smug glow that said; ‘It’s Christmas. Relax. Times are good. Look at your lovely children.’ And even, ‘Aren’t you a clever mummy?’ This lasted 12 and a bit minutes, because no sooner had I’d finished hanging the antique, large bulb multi -coloured fairy lights – the toddler, thinking they were some kind of variation on a peanut M&M, took a bite out of one of them… And you can guess what happened next….
Thats right. Nee naw nee naw….
Needless to say, everything was fine. And though we never recovered all the bits, the nappies had a definite festive twinkle about them for weeks afterwards. Now, let me tell you about January…