On Thursday when I collected The Bear from pre-school, he came out white as a sheet and teary eyed. This is totally out of character. He doesn’t cry often and he is always so happy when he comes out of school.
Complaining his stomach hurt and that he’d hit his head, I had no choice but to carry him home on my hip while pushing the pushchair one handed. I have no arm strength whatsoever so this was no mean feat for me – I probably looked quite funny.
By the time we got home, The Bear was extremely lethargic and looked like he was going to vomit. Instead he slumped on the sofa and fell asleep. This never happens. He hasn’t napped in the daytime since before he was three. So the sleepiness, coupled with the bang to the head and the stomach pains meant alarm bells started to ring in my head.
After a lot of ‘should I/shouldn’t I’ questions and standard Mum-paranoia, I decided to take him to the walk in centre to get checked out. It’s at times like this when I think, ‘why did I not marry a paediatrician?’, it would’ve saved a lot of panicking in the middle of the night every time one or another kid had a high temperature or a funny looking rash. Damn The Bearded Manc and his nice arms.
We sat in the children’s waiting room for three and a half hours. The Bear hardly talking, head on my lap, drifting in and out of sleep. We were eventually seen by a lovely clinician who reassured me that while The Bear had clearly suffered a nasty knock to the head, his symptoms were not worrying. However, his tonsils were enormous and so he recommended a trip to the GP the next day to sort that out.
Feeling relieved that nothing more serious was at work than a bump on the head and a nasty set of swollen glands (that just happened to show up at the same time, what are the chances?), we came home and I reflected upon the days events over a beer.
I thought about how The Bear could receive such a blow to the head while under the supervision of his school and how we waited so long to be seen and I felt nothing but gratitude. I mean, I could’ve done without him being shoved over by a kid at school, but that’s kind of unavoidable, isn’t it?
I’m grateful for the free education my children are entitled to and the opportunities this will open up for them in the world. I’m thankful for the kindness and patience shown by teachers.
I’m extremely grateful for the NHS and all the times it has helped my friends and family. It brought my babies into the world unscathed. It immunises them and looks after their mental and social welfare. We can phone for help in the middle of the night if we need it and no matter how long it takes to be seen, we will be seen by a Doctor and treated accordingly and it doesn’t cost a penny. It’s so easy to forget how lucky we are and start jumping on the bandwagon of bitching about waiting times and crappy hospital food, but I am so thankful to live in a country where help is always available and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can afford it, because it is there for everyone.
Bu most of all I am grateful that I have two healthy children.
There are many parents out there who spend hour upon hour sat in waiting rooms with, and at the bedsides of, poorly children. Children who require all kinds of physical and mental treatment and attention due to unfair illnesses and disease or because they are victims of tragic accidents or violence.
These poor babes endure so much. They get poked, prodded, cut, stitched and pumped full of chemicals. They weep and they beg their parents to be able to go home. They sleep for hours on end. They don’t eat. They laugh. They are brave. All the while their parents have to put on their most comforting faces and make their children feel safe, never showing their fears or worries.
I have nothing but admiration for the strength of these families. They are warriors, all of them. I go into panic mode whenever my littles Beastlies do a funny looking poo. Cue classic mum doubts and out-loud questioning of oneself.
‘Should it be that green?’
‘Why does it smell like camembert, we haven’t eaten any?’
‘Let’s google ‘normal looking poo for a one year old’ and see what comes up, so we can compare and contrast?’
You get the picture. I’m a worrier. I fret. I’m not resilient. I’m not brave.
Maybe the parents of poorly children were not brave before either, maybe they learned fast how to be strong because they had to. Maybe it’s a skill all parents possess, that we can access at the drop of a hat, should we sadly need to.
Like all parents, I pray that I (and you) never have to find out.
But to those of you out there who have all ready been put to the test and are now walking around with heavy hearts and wearing your bravest faces, you are incredible. You should be proud of yourselves.
To all the little ones out there, enduring and smiling when you are in pain and/or scared, you are my hero. If only all adults could be half as brave as you. Be proud, little one and have courage.