For just over a week, my LittleBear has been very poorly. It started with a middle-of-the-night episode of vomitting. They're my favourite kind as they involve having to wash pyjamas, bedding, pillows, duvets (and if you're really lucky carpet too, though we dodged that one this time). I ended up with LittleBear sharing a bed with me, and BigBear being banished to the spare room. I was very proud of me and LittleBear, because the second episode of vomit went into, and only into, the lurking washing up bowl, and not all over another bed. Your day is not starting well when the highlight is not having your bed filled with another human being's vomit.
In truth, the first day after this episode, LittleBear was tired and a little limp, but otherwise mostly himself. It was the day after that when things took a turn for the worse... LittleBear developed a fever. And it went on, and on, and on. It was a week before he didn't need drugs to bring his temperature down. And during that time, he didn't eat much (the occasional piece of toast, usually followed by whimpering about feeling sick). Nor did he want to play. Or be read to. Or watch television. Or do anything very much. We saw the doctor, who was kind, sympathetic and thorough in his poking and prodding, but who ultimately couldn't do anything other than send us home to keep doing what we were doing.
Then BigBear and I both succumbed to The Mystery Fever, which was accompanied by chills, sweats, aches, coughing, sneezing, nausea and general malaise. Truly a virus to have fun with.
The combination of my lovely little boy being utterly woebegone and being ill myself has led me to explore a wide variety of emotions:
... there were times my baby would climb onto my lap and I'd hold him close, rubbing his back until he fell asleep, his hot little head nestled onto my shoulder. And I'd lean back on the sofa, gazing at the bookshelves and holding my precious bundle, as I did time after time after time when he was a baby. I'd forgotten how it felt, how perfect it is to hold my sleeping boy, how long ago it seems since I sat like this every day. I was glad to have even just one more chance to cuddle my baby to sleep.
... there were times when he lay, curled up, eyes rolling back, a handful of "nanoo"s clutched to his chest when my heart broke to see him so drained, so ill, so far from being his own happy little self. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wondered what more I could do for him, how I could help him, how I could take the pain, fever and exhaustion away for him.
... there were times when my boy complained about yet another trivial, pointless, absurd thing when my patience snapped completely. Yes, you're right, I did let the towel flap in your face after your bath, but really, you didn't actually have to complain about it did you?
... there were times, usually about an hour after a dose of calpol, when my LittleBear would want to play again, and he'd even smile and find life funny again, and I'd have a short period of hope that things were improving, before another hour would pass and he'd head downhill again and I'd be filled with such rage at the injustice of it all.
... there were huge stretches of time when I was just so unutterably bored with dealing with a whinging, miserable, sick child who didn't want to eat, drink, play, read or do anything. I began to doubt my own sanity in ever having enjoyed spending any time at home with my son. I developed tunnel-vision and all I could see was the here and now. The tedium, the complaints, the relentless, unchanging weariness of it all.
... there were times when my heart broke because my LittleBear said, "I don't want to live here any more. I'm too sad here."
And today the sun came out. Not literally, it's still February. No, my little boy came back to me. He was full of silly jokes, and giggles, and played imaginatively and with extraordinary concentration and focus. And he told me he wanted to live with me forever, in this house. And he ATE like he hadn't eaten in a week. And we made Valentine's cards for BigBear. And we made dinosaur-shaped biscuits. And we made a motorised Armoured Personnel Carrier with rocket launcher. And he didn't have any calpol at all, all day, and it was bloody brilliant.
I love my LittleBear more than anything, and I am so glad to have him back to himself. He's still a nasty little snot-beast with a hacking cough, but those are minor details compared to the past week. I'm still not convinced I have the emotional equanimity to handle this parenting nonsense, though I'll cut myself some slack and claim I'd probably have handled it all a lot better if I hadn't been ill myself.