Test One: The Sick Child

There is no doubt in my mind that the Universe’s sense of humour is pretty dark. Dark as in The Dead of a Winter Night really. . .here’s why.

I was a “single” parent for 3 years before now.  Manageable single is what I mean by adding the inverted commas, with every second weekend to do sweet nothing (to do with children) and their father a mere four kilometres away, always on emergency standby providing it was convenient, he was available, and had been given sufficient notice. I’ve been an entirely solo parent now, since he moved 800kms (as his the crow flies) for just under two months. Two. Months. That’s hardly enough time to remember that I need a calendar, let alone print one out and write very important things to remember on it.

Ha” the Universe smirks. “You want to do this alone”? ”Well, no actually, I was pretty much forc…” “Pfft.. details! Let’s test the strength of your sanity anyway”….

Test One.

A sick child. A single working mothers worst nightmare. Not beginning on a Friday, when I can be home for two full days plying him with medicines to ensure a full recovery by 8am on Monday. Nope, that’s too easy. The Universe decides to smack my youngest with a 39.7degree Celsius temperature at 4pm on a Monday after noon. Noooo! No .No. Seriously? I’m hoping he’s just really hot from excessive running around and playing. “Do you want to go for a quick swim”? I nudge him as he lies half comatose on the couch, too weak to reach his bed.  “Huhh”…he mutters. “A swim?” I try again slightly less enthusiastically. No response. I manage to rouse him enough to ply him with Ponstel and then leave him to sleep. I almost convince myself that he’ll be fine when he wakes up. 12 hours later he’s vomiting onto my bedroom floor, narrowly missing the clean washing pile waiting to be ironed by no-one. 10 minutes spent panicking that’s its meningitis. The rest of the night spent wondering if he’ll be ok to send to school by 8am. Of course he’s not. At 7am his forehead is hotter than Satan’s. I’ll take this opportunity to quickly mention that my boss is not kind nor understanding, think Meryl Streep in TDWP, only less approachable. In spite of the fact that she has two children of her own, she is possibly less than sympathetic, due to the fact that she also owns her own company, has two full time domestic workers, an au pair and a husband. I lecture myself about my childrens health being my very top most priority and my right to use my three ‘family responsibility’ leave days I get a year, and decide to stay at home. I text my boss. Sweat a bit. Then text the temp.  No reply from either…I get back into bed. I fly out of bed, remembering I have another child that needs to get to school. Crap, another dilemma so soon after resolving the first. I try and nudge the sick child awake to tell him he needs to crawl to the car. I watch him attempt to lift an eyelid and immediately feel stabbings of guilt to the upper chest area. Defeated, I phone my father to ask for help. Thankfully he lives close by and immediately comes over to pick up the healthy child, I slap some jam onto a slice of bread and throw it into a lunchbox with a stale biscuit and off he goes to school. Then I get back into bed. He’s still not better the next day, although he briefly showed signs of being perfectly well, just long enough for me to rejoice that it was just a ‘24hour bug’. By midnight that night  though, he was curled up in ball with excruciating stomach cramps, and I was in a complete panic about the fact that there was just no way I could take another day off work, particularly after finding out that the temp was a no-show the day before.  The upside of being the only employee of the ‘Cape Town branch’ is just that, I’m the only one in the office. There was nothing I could do but take him with me to work, wracked with further stabbings of guilt at this less than ideal environment for a sick child, I still had give him strict instructions to lay low and not make a single sound if I was on the phone, so as to ensure zero risk of raising any suspicion, even though he was still barely able to move his eyes from side to side. On the third day, I did the same, still terrified that I would be caught secretly harbouring a sick child in the workplace. On the fourth day, I phoned my father in desperation. My son was still fighting raging temperatures, and I had a client meeting that obviously I couldn’t take him to, as the risk of losing my job was too great. Not that I hadn’t considered it and run through all awkward yet unavoidable scenarios. Mercifully, my father came through for me, and spent the day with him.

Just in time for the weekend, he had made a full recovery, and was swimming again. Whilst I, instead of sighing with relief at having somehow juggled it all and miraculously kept us both alive, spent it plying myself and my oldest son with Probiotics, terrified that the next test set by the Universe would be that by Monday afternoon, he or I would have caught the 96 hour bug. We didn’t.


Single Parent – ten points for managing to nurse sick child back to health, keep healthy child functioning, hang on to job and (some) sanity

Universe –  minus twenty on a humour scale 0-10 (with zero being not the tiniest bit funny and ten being knee-slapping joyous mirth)


One thought on “Test One: The Sick Child

  1. godintheicu says:

    Wow! What a writer. I can picture the scene. This needs to be read by lots ‘n lots of people! always knew you had talent. It HAS to be exploited.

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