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We Sneeze In The Face Of Danger


May Blossom’s Self-Portrait With Gastro

It’s winter here, and with each new and sparkling dawn comes a new illness. I’m quite serious: since April, when we went on a dream of a holiday to Fiji, one of us has always been sick. May Blossom may laugh in the face of danger (as she told our neighbour the other day after having the dangerous heater pointed out to her), but she is defenceless in the face of every common virus that does the rounds.

Garnet kicked it off on the trip with hand, foot and mouth disease. I realise that for people not in the throes of life with little kids that sounds terrifying and the sort of thing that should bring a team in HAZMAT suits to your door to euthanase your livestock and condemn your farm, but it’s actually a reasonable mild viral illness. The affected sprog gets small blisters on their hands, feet and in their mouth. Garnet was basically fine, if a little spotty, so we responsibly parented him by not saying anything and plonking him in the sea for hours every day. His mouth was largely unaffected so he was pretty happy muddling about in the shallows, occasionally taking bites from the apple we left bobbing beside him as a snack (What? We were nearby on deck chairs but we weren’t going to put down our pina coladas and traipse down to the water every time he wanted a nibble. That’s just an inefficient use of vacation time.) The tropical fish shared his apple, but as they have neither hands nor feet they probably didn’t catch the virus.

From then it went: tummy bug, cold, cold, ear infection, gastro, gastro (that’s two rounds of gastro in two weeks, just for the disgusting record), flu, a few more colds and now we’re back to some sort of sore tummy thing, with an ear and sinus infection with severe dizziness thrown in there for me. What a fucking treat.

People keep reassuring me that this is the time in their lives when little kids get everything that’s going because their immune systems are immature, and their parents fall down in a heap with them because our immune systems have just come off four years of no sleep. But I still feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong.

Is it what they eat? My kids are pretty good vegetable eaters, they love fruit, and apart from a few milk arrowroot biscuits and ginger biscuits from Ikea, they eat almost all homemade food. I do make cakes, but not all the time, and I try to use less processed forms of sugar when I can. Our bread is wholemeal, our eggs are free range and I buy the best quality meat I can. But they do eat a lot of dairy and wheat, which the Internet of Doom, peopled as it is with gwynethpaltrovians  and followers of the paleo diet (and by the by, would ancient man have clogged up the internet going on and on about how he didn’t eat grains? No? Then maybe they shouldn’t either), would have me believe is the root of all our troubles.

Is it because I don’t take them to the homeopath, the chiropractor or the acupuncturist? Is it because they have had too many antibiotics for their chronic ear infections? Was a year and a half of breastfeeding them (and counting, in Garnet’s case) not enough?

Is there something I’m missing? Something I’m not doing?

Was it – and here I go back deep into some guilty territory I haven’t trodden in a while – because they were born by Caeasarean section, and thus did not get the healthy bacteria that is transferred to the baby in the birth canal? If so, I’m very sorry for your ailments, children, but the alternative was not being born at all, because you weren’t going to come out the traditional route.

So I’m just going to buy more tissues and some probiotics, let them watch Frozen a few more times, and we’ll just hang in there, because really, what else can I do? I’ve got it pretty good really: I’ve had two proper sick days this week, where I just lay in bed and read Jennifer Saunders’ autobiography and watched old episodes of Silent Witness, while a combination of H, my Mum and our babysitter E minded the kids. By the time May Blossom crumpled into bed beside me yesterday afternoon, I was starting to feel better and the ensuing three hours of reading The Folk of The Faraway Tree  were quite lovely. She and I don’t get much time alone anymore, and snuggling up to my little girl while Garnet marauded around the neighbourhood on his bike with E was almost worth us both feeling crappy.

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