The unbridled torture of a sick child is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Not even Robbie Williams.
The thing is, he’d seemed so much worse at home. I’d woken at half two to find his tiny heart beating much faster than usual and I could feel his scorching heat, despite being inches away from him in bed.
It’s hard being on your own with a toddler at the best of times. On a good day I would sit and watch my beautiful boy sleep, and my chest would swell in the deep and profound understanding that I was the luckiest woman in all Christendom. But on the worst days, you had to make terrible decisions, like the impossible feat of determining how ill was too ill. The truth is any ill is too ill when it’s your baby. But the level of socially recognised seriousness was a difficult thing to gage. The medical profession has a tendency to make you feel like a twat when you bring your kid to hospital, despite their protestations that it’s “…best to make sure.”
I’d been so panicky, I felt unable to drive and had rushed out of the house in need of a shower, without make up and wearing the flip-flops that had been on the shoe rack and seemed easiest to put on with an ill 3 year old in my arms. In November.
As I could have predicted if I’d had someone else to consult with, or an hour’s more kip, the staff at the hospital seemed very underwhelmed by George’s illness and I had the distinct feeling they were probably going to send us home with antibiotics.
Considering George was now playing excitedly with the half-missing jigsaw puzzles in the empty children’s waiting room at nearly quarter to five in the morning, I had an inkling that everything was going to be fine. Thank fuck.
Then in he walked.
I hadn’t seen him since the early stages of pregnancy, and even now I couldn’t bear to look him in the face.
It was just so fucking obvious. He’d come in to an empty children’s waiting room with an elderly man in a flat cap and a perfectly groomed son, who would’ve been George’s age.
My mouth went dry and I lowered my head to focus on my feet in those fucking flip-flops. The red nail polish on my toes was cracked, and my hair was greasy. I just felt so tired and dirty.
I considered scooping George up and running. But I didn’t want to divert any attention to myself. I looked at the children, who’d begun tentatively playing alongside each other. One in his cheap transformers pyjamas, and the other pristine in his designer outfit.
My beautiful George could see the other boy had his arm in a sling, and went to get him a small plastic chair to sit on. The tiny child smiled and sat, and as I watched my perfect boy in his tatty pyjamas, my heart told me that my boy was easily the most pristine of the two brothers.