When I hear a sneeze on the baby monitor I bolt upright and nudge my sleeping wife (bad thing to do I must admit) and whisper, ‘who did that?’ cradling the damn tell-tale box up to my ear.
This is the sneeze that keeps me awake for the whole night. How did this sneeze come about? Did you not put enough clothes on them when you went out today? Did you not Milton the trolley? That’s it; the next few days are ruined. This sneeze will spread into something bigger and will inevitably spread to my other kids like some contagious relay race. The next morning I dart into my little girls room and say ‘How are you feeling darling?’ ‘Fine Daddy’ is the reply. Right it’s settled, it wasn’t a sneeze it was something else. Then I hear it again only from another room – I begin to melt like the wicked witch, my wife throws her eyes to heaven saying ‘will you calm down, why do you always get like this?’ It’s simple – a sick child is my Achilles heel, my own personal kryptonite.
I sit like a mute monk at mealtimes trying desperately to control my ‘manxiety’ attack whilst staring at niagra noses in disbelief thinking ‘Did we not just have this situation only a few weeks ago?’ I know we did because when the kids are sick I mark it on the calendar, starting with the first signs, noting the worst day and the day of reduced symptoms – but this day I have since learned is there just to trick you into thinking that they are nearly over it, when the next day they are actually worse than on the worst day!
I do not know why it has such an effect on me; I’m a normal enough guy. I can admit that of course I do not like to see any of my own suffer in anyway, but I also know that all plans are suspended for a given time, my own sleep is disrupted (light sleeper hence sneezes keep me awake!), my kids are grumpy, and my wife, well my wife is nonchalant about the entire debacle – how do they do that?
What’s worse is if Daddy is the carrier (or cause!) of the whole cold thing. You stand arm stretched in front of you like a traffic guard saying ‘NO, Daddy doesn’t need a hug – Daddy has a cold’. They look up at you with child-like bewilderment saying ‘A hug will stop Daddy being cold’. It’s then that I make a promise to myself (yet again!) that if it’s raining heavily between the car and house (6 feet) that I will definitely put something on over my t-shirt!