I struggled awake in the morning. It was Saturday. I felt foul. I awoke to a gurgling and queasy sensation, my mouth tasted of carbonation, rancid pumpkin and stomach acid as I opened my eyes. I burped. The taste got worse. I shivered a sickly shiver and looked around. I was in The Lad’s bed again. He had needed to be comforted through a bout of coughing last night so I had laid down to cuddle him and eventually nodded off myself. It had been happening frequently of late. But this morning was different, I was unwell. And no, it was no hangover.

I had to get up and into the bathroom as quickly as possible. I extricated myself from my young son and snuck out of his room. I made it to the bathroom just in time…. But I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say they fit with the symptoms thus-far described. While I was sitting down The Lad arose. He walked in as I was in the middle of things, a toddler interfering with this part of my life was something I was used to now. Satisfied that he knew where I was he left again and returned carrying a book, an expectant look on his face as he thrust it into my hands. So I read it, musing how ‘reading on the toilet’ used to mean something quite different. I finished and went with him to the lounge-room. The day passed with The Mamanator being as sick as I was, too much television and a lot of toast. I did manage to cook pancakes for breakfast though, earning me great praise (he loves pancakes).

The next day I woke not feeling much better. I was in the same spot as yesterday, next to my little fire-headed boy. Again I awoke and made my way to the bathroom. This time I was left alone as my digestive system continued to demonstrate to me that I as unwell. The Lad arose and I made him toast. Yes toast. More toast… I knew today was going to bring reinforcements, so I persevered.

Later that morning I felt worse. This time my food was trying to make an exit from above rather than below. As I realised it was inevitable that I was going to throw up, I dashed to the bathroom and knelt in front of the bowl waiting for the inevitable retching. It’s a horrible feeling nausea, saliva swirling around your mouth, eyes bulging and then the convulsing. And then…. well….. the rest.

The Lad walked in on me again. I said without looking up “Not right now Lad, daddy’s not feeling well” in between things. Bless him, he left. He actually gave me some space. I took some solace in my hour of suffering that my son was a compassionate soul and that I must be doing well by him for him to have so much consideration.

Then he came back. Carrying a book. “He want’s daddy to read it” – this was how he makes requests, you see.

“Daddy can’t …… hhhhhhrrrrrr….. Sorry, Daddy can’t read that right now, can you wait for me?”.

My boy paused where he was, pondering the situation before him. After due consideration he placed the book on my back as I curled my body over the toilet bowl and waited for me. He even opened the book to the first page and started looking at it as it sat on his table. Which was making a fairly offensive noise.

And this is the story of my short career as a reading desk.

The morals of this story are:

  1. If you’re sick, your kids probably don’t understand or they don’t care. They still expect you to do everything you usually do.
  2. If at all possible, get help if you are unwell. My mum came to take care of The Lad yesterday while The Mamanator and I recovered, it was a godsend (THANKS MUM!)
  3. Take it in shifts: The Mamanator let me rest for about 4 hours yesterday. I could not keep my eyes open, and I usually loath daytime sleeps. I tried to do the same for her when and where I could.
  4. Drink water. Yes you should always drink water, but it’s harder to remember when you’re feeling queasy or otherwise preoccupied with being ill and raising children at the same time.
  5. If the day goes down the toilet, your kid watches hours of ABC4Kids and you serve them toast for dinner, just be glad you all survived