Thursday, June 18, 2009


Everyone in the family is ill at the moment except for me, which is a very rare state of affairs. I'm usually the one with a lingering cold but yesterday I had to cart both my dearly beloved husband and our darling daughter to the doctor's. Husband is due to fly to Europe on Saturday and I don't want him to endure the 27 hour flight with his current symptoms. It turns out he has full-on tonsillitis so the prescription for antibiotics he received was very welcome; after 3doses the medicine is already working and he's feeling a lot better today.

Darling daughter's situation is slightly more complicated but not serious: she's been fighting something off for over 3 weeks and as she was off school being ill it made sense to take her along too. The potential diagnosis was surprising: she may have Whooping Cough, despite having been vaccinated as an infant. Ironically husband and I recently had Whooping Cough boosters because it is rife in darling daughter's school at the moment, but we thought she was protected; apparently not.

There is absolutely no reason for this picture of dusk taken from the rear deck except that I think blog posts are nicer with pictures. Very selfish of me.

In the middle of a Whooping Cough epidemic on Australia's mid-North coast and a Swine Flu pandemic I started wondering about selfishness. I've recently been doing spending some time with a woman who sends her 5-year old daughter to school regardless of how the child is feeling: coughs, colds, sneezes, temperature, tummy ache... it doesn't matter, off she goes to school and little parental sympathy is in evidence.

Does that put us on the moral high ground? The book on Buddhism I'm reading calls on me to meditate on Loving Kindness. So for the woman whose child is at school no matter how ill they are I've been trying to find compassion: what is her life like that she feels the need to protect "her" time so fiercely that she can't allow a sick child to interrupt her plans? What support does she get from other sources that means she has to fence that time off for herself so implacably? I wonder if she feels that her individuality drowns when she has to take on the role of nurturing parent - a feeling I have certainly fought with. I don't know the answer but I do find myself feeling outraged and superior, not an attractive combination. I had to cancel my felting workshop on Wednesday morning to take husband and daughter to the doctors' surgery and for once managed not to resent it. I'm not perfect, but I tried to focus on the fact that although I was missing something I am really interested in and I was also missing the chance to catch up with friends in Bellingen for lunch, I was also gaining the chance to spend time with daughter and husband (before he flies off) and that I would be paid in hugs and the sheer delight of a small, warm person sitting on my lap for a while.

On balance I've managed - I think - to curb my worst criticisms and just enjoy the changed situation of having a sick husband and a daughter who's been home from school most of the week. The thing I haven't managed to get out of my head, though, has been the more general outrage directed at selfish people who have sent their ill children to class and now darling daughter's suffering as a result. In her class there are more than a few children who aren't vaccinated against anything, and some of them were in class earlier this year with Whooping Cough. I'm ranting because MY daughter is ill - despite the fact that she could have as easily picked up the germs from swimming class, walking down the street, her brother...

I don't make a lot of sense sometimes, when I think about it (note for my sister when she reads this blog post: there's no actual requirement for a sarcastic comment at this point). I probably need to have a bit more compassion for their parents, too. I know at least one of daughter's friends has parents who run a small business together. If their daughter is off sick one of them has to stay home and look after her, with all the difficulties that brings. When the school was shut recently because of bad weather we took daughter's friend home with us for two days so that her parents could continue to work. I guess we are just so lucky that we both work from home, and this is why we do it.

1 comment:

  1. Sarcasm? Me?? Ohh, you're hurting my feelings now.

    OK - not really. Must be those antibiotics dulling the senses (yes - I'm on them too due to a recently deceased mosquito who decided to have lunch on my arm on Monday - 3 days of tablets and the arm is now it's normal size again; contemplating buying a BIG mossie trap).

    Now, seriously - you know you love the comments because it means I'm actually reading your blogs. And you know I'm only teasing (well, mostly)!!


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