It’s Time to Strangle a Few People
I know some of you turn to this page for a bit of a light-hearted read, but I’m not feeling all that slapstickish or boom-boomish today. Sorry. As a matter of fact I’m feeling a tad homicidal. I s’pose I should be more upbeat, shouldn’t I?
Darcey took her first steps a few weeks ago and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Kate and I were sitting on the floor, our eyes shining, as she wobbled towards us.
I felt a warm tingle in my chest - it must have been my heart stretching a few tendons to make room for a little more love. Then Darcey fell into our arms and we hugged like a footy team that had won the grand final. It was a great moment. And a timely one. Boy, did we need it.
Lately, most of our moments have been stuck in the sludgy end of life. You know, viruses and shattered sleep; gastroenteritis and exploding nappies; projectile vomit and cold sores. Can you believe a 17-month-old child can get cold sores? Our girl has enough to deal with without worrying about cold sores.
Who decides who get these things? Is it a panel of eminent angels? If so, I’d love to strangle the living $&*% out of each and every one of them. Sorry. I told you I wasn’t feeling too upbeat.
I know Kate and I have a lot to be grateful for. We remind ourselves how lucky we are each time we take Darcey to the Royal Children’s Hospital. We see families there who are struggling with problems that are so daunting it nearly freezes our blood just to think about the prospect of having to deal with them.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about our girl. And I know this is not unique to our family. Who doesn’t fret about their children? But I never realised it could be so draining. I tried drinking a bucket of beer each night to numb the anxiety but it didn’t work.
In the end, life was still leaking in and I had a thumper of a hangover to contend with. Personally, I suspect Darcey knew what was going on. I’m sure that’s why she decided to wake up and scream her guts out at 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am until the boozing stopped.
In the end, something had to give. It was either the beer or the baby. I’m happy to say it was a one-sided contest. Cheers Darcey. Here’s mud in your eye.
Anyway, we’ve placed a call to International Rescue. Now that Darcey’s a walking disaster zone we figure the Thunderbirds will have some special machinery to stop her destroying the house and bashing the dog to death.
We also hope they have some special machinery for chicken pox because we suspect Darcey’s got it. This is a rather untimely discovery as she’s going to be christened next week and her Godfather, Bob, is arriving from London in a few days.
To complicate matters, we don’t know if Bob’s had chicken pox before. Nor does he. He’s checking with his mother. We’re hoping he was infected when he was a lad learning to fly a broom at Hogwarts but I’m not too confident. I can feel something murky in my waters.
In the interim I’m trying to track down the chairman of the multi-national drug company that makes the chicken pox vaccine Darcey received six months ago. Why? Because he’s the next person I’m going to strangle the living $&*% out of.
We paid $60 for that vaccine and if the mysterious pimply rash that’s spreading over Darcey’s arms and legs turns out to be chicken pox, I’m going to make sure he screams as long and hard as Darcey did after she was injected with the stuff.
When Darcey’s spots first appeared, I scoured the internet to learn a little more about chicken pox. To my delight I discovered it’s more contagious than the Mexican Wave and stays that way for about three weeks.
Then I went hunting for a website to tell me more about the vaccine. What I discovered made my blood boil. According to the company that makes the stuff, it’s only 70-90 per cent effective, anyway.
HELLO! How do you get 70-90 per cent effective? It’s either one or the other, isn’t it? I’ve already strangled the living $&*% out of my financial adviser. Why didn’t he have me buying shares in this company earlier?
Anyway, I’ve ranted enough. The phone’s ringing and it’s bound to be International Rescue. I hope they fly Thunderbird Two over. It’s always been my favourite.
Postcript. It wasn’t International Rescue. It was Bob. And guess what? Do I need to say it? He’s never had chicken pox.
by Bruce Atherton
This article was first published in Australian Family Magazine, November 2003.