The Computer Virus

“How are you feeling sweetheart?” I asked, gently placing a tray of food down in front of him.
“Ok, thanks,” he replied.
Master Seven was home from school, sick.
His teacher had called the day before and, with me at work, Learner Dad’s mum had picked him up for me.
By the time we all got home that night, he really seemed ok.
But it seemed a day spent being pampered with sweets and computer games had appealed to him and, the next morning, he burst into tears as he was getting ready for school.
“I still don’t feel well,” he’d complained sadly, rubbing his eyes.
Clearly exhausted, I told him he could stay home, but that it meant nourishing food, no computer games and, most importantly, bed rest.
All day.
“This’ll be interesting,” I muttered to Learner Dad as he left for work.
A full day in bed with nothing to do would determine just how sick this kid was.
The first hour passed.
I went down with some toast and he looked at me solemnly.
Remembering how much I’d loved being nursed by my own mother on a sick day, I continued to visit him every hour with something to eat or with a book to read.
Three hours after his bed rest began, I had Li’l Fatty down for a nap and was sitting on the couch watching Friday Night Lights.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Though I still doubted he was ill, Master Seven clearly understood what a sick day meant.
I was also slightly worried.
He wasn’t meant to be so… so content.
He wasn’t meant to enjoy a sick day.
At 1pm I popped down with an Easter egg and a hot pack for his aching legs.
His eyes lit up.
But he seemed distracted.
His eyes kept slipping sideways, glancing at something in his peripheral.
I looked in the same direction.
Under his Lego table I could see a tiny blue light winking back at me.
Realisation dawned.
His DS!
I whipped it out, pulling it roughly from the charger.
“Have you been playing this?” I asked, waving it in front of his face.
“Yes…” he admitted, casting his eyes as far down as was possible while stretched out on your back.
“For how long?” I asked, looking at his red-rimmed, slightly unfocused eyes.
“Since I got in to bed,” he answered quietly.
The four hours I’d thought he was sleeping, reading or simply just resting, he had spent hopfrogging his way through Mario Galaxy with his busy brain and even busier fingers.
He told me he’d been playing it while it was on the charger and that he’d simply jump back into bed every time he heard me coming.
Half an hour after I took the DS away, Master Seven was out of bed and playing basketball in the courtyard.
I didn’t try to stop him.
The more energetic he was, the more ammunition I’d have for sending him to school the next day.
The deceit astounded me.
My seven-year-old had not only tricked me into letting him stay home, he’d tricked me for hours after.
As I stood at the window, watching my son shoot hoops and dribble tricks, I realised I now had to be on MY game.
My little boy, who’d always been either clearly well or unwell, had learned the art of faking.
And I had a feeling this first attempt was an amateur one.
His best, ‘fully sick’ efforts were yet to come.

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The real midwives of maternity

His name was Chris.
He had grey hair, a beard and kind eyes.
He was my midwife.
Besides Learner Dad, he was the most important person around when Li’l Fatty was born.
I’m not talking about labour.
I went straight from induction to caesarean so the doctor was the only person I really remembered from that experience.
I’m talking about recovery.
Some women can’t get out of hospital fast enough after having a baby.
Others are literally sent packing, dragging their dummies and diapers behind them.
Me?
I was kind of in between.
I quite liked being taken care of yet, having been a patient only in the public system (with its shared rooms and average food), I went home a bit sooner than I needed to.
One of my reasons for almost staying was Chris.
You think of midwives, you think of babies.
But, when it comes down to it, the midwife is really there for you.
Baby’s out, baby’s breathing, baby’s fine.
In my experience, the midwife is all about mummy.
When your room is full of visitors, all eyes on bub as he or she is passed around the room, it’s the midwife who is all eyes on you.
He’s the one who can tell you’re in pain.
Or tired.
Or needing to be left alone.
It’s an intimacy unlike any you’ve experienced: not even your own hubby will regularly poke around the pads in your undies checking for blood loss; or help wash your naked, war-torn body in the shower; or regularly remind you you really need to poo.
Then there are the nightingales.
They’re the midwives who glide around your hospital bed at night, gently checking your vital signs while you peek at them through the slits in your eyes.
They lower your bed, slip you painkillers and gently take bub from the crook of your arm to pop back in his crib.
And then, sorry to break the spell here, there’s the early morning midwife bitch.
She’s the one who strolls in and moves the crib (with baby inside) up against the wall, as far away from you as possible.
She’s the one wanting you to get out of bed to get him.
The bitch who’s trying to stop you getting a blood clot.
You’ve heard of the baby blues?
The floods of tears that come three or four days after you’ve delivered your baby?
Mine came the moment I left the hospital.
The moment I stopped being nursed so I could go home and nurse someone else.
Admittedly the tears only lasted the short ride home, whereupon I happily and eagerly re-entered the real world.
A world that now included Li’l Fatty.
But although mine was one of the dozens of tired and teary new mum faces Chris must see every day, I’m not sure I’ll ever forget his.