People often ask me how on earth I manage with four children. I tell them: it’s a little extra work, yes, like a lot of washing (think of mountain ranges like the Alps), and sometimes I have to make difficult choices, because there are times, when I get double booked into events, like two parent evenings occurring on the same day in different schools, which also happen to be miles apart, at the very same time. You might question what the odds are on that happening. I can tell you, they are apparently quite high. I can also tell you that I have quite active children, between them they regularly: sing in choirs, partake in drama class, do ninjutsu, climb, geocache, canoe, ballet dance, play keyboard, go to youth fire service, swim, cycle, play bass guitar and arch – play archery? Go arching? – Whatever! So, sometimes I find myself double-booked into two audiences at once or as a taxi-driver expected to drive in two opposing directions simultaneously.
When it comes to deciding which child to opt in favour of, my general rule of thumb is to select my favourite at that moment. That tends to be the one who has been the most helpful and/or has bribed me with the most sweets or cake.
Once I’ve worked out the logistics, I normally find most tasks doable, in a hectic kind of way. I try my best to be to organised and it comes together in a perfect picture of organised chaos. And so we toddle along. Until, that is, someone gets sick.
Sickness wreaks havoc…
It all started last week. With all of those children doing all of those activities and meeting all of those other children all of the time it is quite clear, that they are going to bring some germs home at some point or other. So no element of surprise there then. Just bad timing.
Aden came home with a cold and being the generous, sharing boy that he is, he donated some of his germs to Lori.
Now that left Lori in a fix. Normally, she would not bat her eye at a mere cold but I knew something was seriously wrong when our obsessed Ninja informed me that she didn’t feel fit enough for sword training. Then, that very night, she woke up with a high fever and a pair of very sore ears!
Poor timing indeed. The following day she was due at one of the final rehearsals of her much rehearsed school play. The same play her older sister would also be playing in.
In order to realise the significance of this development, I probably need to give you some background information.
The play, “Momo”, is one they have been working on for about six months. Both daughters have several parts. One main character and and a a few minor roles.
It’s an adaptive, evolving piece. The kids explore their characters in depth and change the script constantly until it fits. They add in music, songs, and various theatrical effects and decide what props and costumes to use. They keep the essence of the story but they vamp it up, modernise it and make it their own.
During this time lines constantly change and minor roles are passed from person to person. Depending on who’s getting changed for the next scene and who’s currently on stage at the time.
So, although they have the script months in advance they don’t actually learn their lines until much later on.
Now let me put your mind at rest. Lori knew all of her lines last Thursday when she got sick. So to miss the rehearsal on Friday wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster either.
Joni has been taking her ‘Abitur’ – her High School Diploma in the last few months and officially she left school about two weeks ago, but then she disappeared off to the Austrian border to do some work experience.
So, just to refresh, while others were getting sick and learning their lines Joni was
galavanting around Europe discovering what it’s like to be a teacher taking kids off on a school camp. She had a whale of a time.
To be fair, she took her lines with her. But
she was too busy having a whale of a time she didn’t have time to learn them.
I should perhaps point out something here, Joni is more of a ‘last-minute’ sort of person.
Where were we?
Ah, yes, so Lori was sick. In bed with a fever. Weak. Being force-fed vitamins, throat lozenges and very spicy home-made soup by her doting mother and Joni had returned and was back in the midst of rehearsals.
She decided the weekend would be a very good time to learn her lines and she also had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday – during the day – because the play wouldn’t be on until Wednesday evening. (As in, this evening.)
But Saturday was Akasha’s day to shine. She’d been rehearsing her butt off too. Quite literally. She’d been dancing not only at her rehearsals but also in the living room, in the garden and well, just about anywhere there’s been space to dance in, if truth be told. I am her witness. I’ve been forced to be her constant audience for many a month now. I swear, if I didn’t have an arthritic knee, a dodgy hip and well, just a general lack of bendiness, I could actually do the dance alongside her. Without any rehearsals or anything.
So, Saturday was filled with rehearsals and hairdos and checking in on the sick one and then, finally, many beautiful ballet performances by many excited, but graceful children. One of the best moments was when one of the littlest dancers just stopped dancing, looked for her mum in the audience and gave her a big smile and a wave.
Joni used to dance too, so she found herself thoroughly involved in the day’s experiences.
To celebrate Akasha’s tear-rendering performance – I admit to being hopeless, I need to carry tissues en masse to every event – we took the two girls out for a celebratory dinner, which ended in Akasha having quite an entertaining sugar shock after being given a bit of meringue in her free ice cream. It was especially entertaining for the waitress. I don’t think she’d ever witnessed a child ‘drunk’ on sugar in her restaurant before, giggling hysterically and then yelling, “No, no, I can’t take any more!!!!” when she brought the customary little shortbreads with the bill. I attempted to hide behind a soggy tissue, with no avail.
Sunday arrived and Lori rose from her bed. But every time she walked, she stumbled. She felt really dizzy, but incredibly, believed that it would be a good idea to go to school and then rehearsals the following day. I can be quite an authoritative parent. I told her “No, not on your nelly!”
By the evening Joni seemed to be wearing a scarf. And a pullover. Even though it was about 28°C outside.
The following day, I made one child rest and sent two off to school and one ferreted around a bit and then left for her rehearsals. She told me she felt fine, but she appeared to have become attached to her scarf and her pullover.
Apparently, when she approached the teachers at the theatre, they became very alarmed. I do understand why. She did look rather peaky.
Tuesday, as in yesterday, I would like to say, came and went without much ado. However, the truth of the matter is: no day in this house ever comes and goes without some drama or other. We could be a reality TV show keeping the public thoroughly entertained.
So Tuesday arrived and the first issue of the day was that lovely little dancing Akasha was no longer dancing. Instead she was wheezing, rather emphatically. She’s asthmatic and we gave her her medicine. But she didn’t get any better at all.
No, actually that was the second issue of the day. The first issue was that the dog spewed. She tried to be considerate. She attempted to tidily regurgitate just on her cushion. But she was out of luck, some of it oozed off onto the floor.
Joni and Lori insisted on going to all day rehearsals, as in, ten hours of rehearsals. They were croaking like frogs and although Lori could walk in a straight line once again, Joni looked like she’d undergone some kind of surgery to become attached to that scarf and pullover. They insisted that they were fine. They have that ‘the show must go on’ attitude of true professionals.
My husband took Akasha to the doctor as I was starting to feel a wee bit under the weather and hadn’t slept too well. He returned with antihistamine – the doctor didn’t believe our littlest had a cold, instead he thought she was taking some kind of allergic asthma attack. We were thinking more along the lines of bronchitis and I’m still unconvinced.
Joni and Lori arrived home after their ten hour session. Lori lay on the sofa and went into a deep, deep sleep for over two hours. I tell you, we could have had a party in that room and she wouldn’t have noticed a thing.
Joni did not look too well at all.
We ate together. I added extra vegetables for nutrition and meat and fish. As well as eggs and bread.
I don’t think it was the most well-conceived plan I ever had.
A couple of hours later, Joni appeared, looking grey. Not because she’d finally removed her brightly coloured scarf. Her blood pressure had dropped, she had a fever and she ended up in the bathroom hugging the bowl for longer than would have been necessary, I am sure, had I not stuffed her with so much food.
Lori wrote to the dramatic drama students on her Whatsapp group “Shit, shit, shit, my sister’s being sick and sick and sick!” In the hours that followed, I believe there were a lot of frantic messages to-ing and fro-ing in the group which involved many swear words and exclamation marks.
I, for my part, just started force feeding the kid again. This time I fed her ‘good bacteria’ and electrolytes. I sent her to bed and expected her to, you know, lie down and sleep, after all that stomach wrenching.
I wandered into her room armed with a just-in-case-you-can’t-make-it-to-the-loo bowl and instructions for her Whatsapp-ing sister to wake me should she be sick again.
And I found her, sitting on her bed, learning her bloody script!!!
So, today’s the day. I got up extra early this morning. A whole hour earlier than I’d actually planned. That’s because Akasha woke me to tell be that she couldn’t get any air. I gave her her inhaler and took her into my bed with me, but she enlightened me, that there would be even less air in my room, because there were now three people in it.
She took her medicine. The doctor warned us that it would make her tired. That’s not proved to be the case. We’re almost in sugar shock Duracell bunny territory once again. She’s been being a mermaid (which did involve some under-the-table-with-legs-tied-together style maneuvers), she’s played her keyboard, read, sewn costumes for her dolls (she has some big teddy wedding event on the horizon, allegedly) all the while wheezing and coughing away.
Joni and Lori left for their final rehearsals, but only after I was sure their temperatures were normal and Joni had managed to retain a whole slice of toast and a couple of drinks. The Whatsapp group had been informed every step of the way.
I packed them up with tissues (supposedly there had been a nose dripping issue in one of the still scenes), an array of lozenges (luckily Joni is mainly playing an old man, so her new voice is quite appropriate, but she also plays a high pitched doll so we needed that avenue covered), a lot of water, peppermint tea and money so that they would be prepared for all eventualities, including, of course, shopping.
The moment of truth will soon be upon us.
Will Joni remember her lines? Will Akasha make it through the performance without being sick in the bucket, which she feels she might just now need to take with her? (She’s been looking forward to her sisters’ performance for many months and nothing, NOTHING is going to stop her being there!!) Will Aden record the show upside down like I did with Akasha’s ballet performance at the weekend? Will the audience notice nose drip? Will voices be lost? Will the high pitch doll sound like an old man, who smoked all his life? Will Lori repeat her coughing fit from this morning and spit mucus into a tissue?
The moment of truth is almost upon us.
I, like Akasha, can’t wait. Six whole months I’ve been excited about this production. And I know that if any two girls know how to pull it out of the bag through sheer determination and enviable spirit, it will be those two.
Besides, Joni only needed to turn up at her drama group today to receive a round of applause. She’s already on a roll.