Hands up who is currently living with a snot goblin? Child Number Three is making barking noises at the moment. There were five children off in Child Number One’s class a couple of weeks ago. Kids barfing. Parents barfing. Everyone barfing. Child Number One has escaped so far, but as I have two other children, and it is currently sweeping through the school, I have two more tempting opportunities to hold a child’s head over a sink awaiting me in the next few weeks.
Child Number Two had very painful legs last week. I am of the view that unless you have lost a limb and the bleeding cannot be stemmed then you get up and go to work or to school. I was also not sure if it was a case of Skivitilis. I therefore administered paracetamol and sent her on her way. When I collected her from school, she was not feeling very well at all, and we decided that unless there was an impressive overnight recovery, she would stay home and rest the following day. The next morning I needed to get some petrol so I could collect the other two children. Immediately after I ended an unexpected call from The Mother of the Year Award Committee, I wrapped Child Number Two up and popped her in the car with the plan that she would be back on the sofa within the hour.
Whilst I was filling up the petrol, I realised that I should not be filling up with petrol, but diesel. Never done it before, believe me, won’t be doing it again. No, I didn’t start the engine. I decided to do what any sane person would do in these circumstances; panic. I ran into the petrol station in a flap and the lady serving very calmly told me to telephone my breakdown people and they would advise me what to do. She would shut down the pump and take my mobile number so I could take poorly child into the coffee bar for warmth.
I ran back outside and made the call. A recovery was necessary and it would be ninety minutes. Ninety minutes in a freezing car with a poorly child. Man of the House was in a meeting all morning so I telephoned the next best thing – his secretary and decided to tell her all about it. She said that she would tell him as soon as she spoke to him. I telephoned a retired relative for assistance – they were going out for a cup of tea in the afternoon, so for reasons unknown to the rest of the English-speaking world, no one in their house was able to assist. So I did what I should have done in the first place; I telephoned the Oddfather. The Oddfather and his wife, The Godmother, are family friends, without whom I would, on many occasions, have been buggered. He was there within twenty minutes. He took crying Child Number Two, from a tearful me, collected The Hound and they were all ensconced on his sofa before I could say ‘Transylvania Two.’
So began my wait. During this time a male member of staff helpfully pointed out to me that my cap does say ‘diesel’ on it – what a pity I am not able to take him with me everywhere to point out everything that I do wrong. His female counterpart decided to be more constructive and gave me a hot chocolate. Ninety minutes turned into two hours, two hours turned into three, and three turned into four. I felt increasingly envious of people filling up their cars with the correct fuel and then going about their day. One of my friends felt increasingly envious of me sitting on my own with a hot chocolate and a magazine for hours on end. If I could have felt my feet by that point, I would have agreed with her.
The recovery truck arrived. Four hundred pounds, yes four hundred pounds, worse off for my own stupidity and a lot of inconvenience to several people, I got the car back the next day.
By the end of this already trying week it had also become apparent that my deaf and aged cat was giving up her very long and hitherto healthy life. I asked the vet to try and get her to eat. I thought that after seventeen years I owed her that. The vet tried, but after twenty four hours, we decided that enough was enough and rather than let her starve to death, it was time to let her go. So I stroked her head, kissed her and said goodbye. The only thing that made it feel better was walking out into the waiting room to humans who smiled at me knowing exactly what had happened in the room, and the owners of wagging tails who had absolutely no idea but appreciated a fuss from a red-faced and tearful woman who needed it more than they did.
Never have I spent so much money in a week and felt so unutterably crap. I was cross with myself for doing something so idiotic with the car. I felt angry that a cup of tea was more important to someone who ought to feel better, than my poorly child. And the soul of my furry companion of the last seventeen years has flown and it is going to take me a long time to get used that. But as always, try to take the positives. The lady who insisted I have a hot chocolate on the house. The recovery driver who told me about the person who drove out of a car park, through a fence and straight into someone’s back garden taking out a trampoline (blessedly with no one bouncing at the time). The Oddfather coming to my rescue once again. Friends offering to help with my children. The vet so kind in making a difficult day bearable. Man of the House bringing fish and chips home because he knows I love it. The kindness of strangers, the kindness of friends.