We were just arriving home from a day out, and a quick visit to my brother’s house yesterday when Flea announced she had a headache.

“I feel a bit sick,” she said, before unleashing The Exorcist on our bathroom.

I don’t deal well with sick children.

As I may have mentioned before I am completely a teeny bit neurotic when it comes to health issues. This otherwise slight personality quirk is – frankly –  out of control when it comes to my child. And the GREAT news for parents of babies and toddlers is that your mad, over-protective habits don’t go away as your child gets older.

Oh no. Despite the fact that my child is now in senior school, I can still rattle off the five most dangerous foods for choking (popcorn, grapes, carrots, hot dogs, peanuts).  Oh, and I still haven’t met a grape I didn’t slice lengthwise.

So I put Flea to bed in my bed last night. This allowed me to wake every couple of hours and put my freezing cold hands on her toasty little abdomen to check she was still breathing. “Is that her breathing, or my hand moving? Better give her a little shake to be sure… oops, she’s breathing. It’s okay, darling, go back to sleep.” 

“Hang on, aren’t the early symptoms of meningitis headache and vomiting?”  So I find myself rummaging under the duvet trying to judge if her feet are cold (another potential meningitis marker). Of course her feet are cold, it’s zero degrees outside. Also my hands are quite cold. And now she’s awake again, wondering why I’m taking her socks off.

Oh God, I’m the World’s Weirdest Mum. My name is Sally and I’m a neurotic weirdo. Is there a support group I should be attending for this?

Like I said, I don’t handle sick children well.

My Mum is amazing in a crisis. The bigger the disaster, the more calm she is. If you lose a phone, she’ll be sympathetic and horrified. If you lose an arm, she’ll tell you to calm down, stop panicking, and think through your best response.

I did not inherit this gene.

Fortunately, today Flea has woken up feeling fine, and I’m going to try giving her some toast in a little while. She should be back at school tomorrow (just a day late).

I hope so, at any rate. I’m not sure I can cope with the stress.


PS, if you take nothing else away from this post, do be aware of the symptoms of meningitis in children, which can include: 

  • Fever
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain (aching arms and legs)
  • Dislike of bright light
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Pale skin
  • A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure (this is often the LAST symptom to present, don’t wait for it if you suspect meningitis)