It’s official: we’re in quarantine. Little Chick has got the pox!
My experience of chicken pox in children is very limited. Aged four, my sister contracted the illness. As did our neighbour’s children. As did their friends. Somehow it missed me. I carried on attending school and missed out on the communal scratching, TV watching, and ice lolly sucking. Naively, I thought it looked fun, enviously observing the camaraderie of dabbing one another with calamine lotion. Eventually, I got my time off school – though it was in my first year of teaching, so not such a treat.
As a seven-year-old, I recall thinking that it seemed a lot of fuss over nothing. That the children were hardly spotty at all. I’m not sure whether age alters perception, the mind plays tricks on you, or little Chick is just unlucky. But he is covered. His beautiful porcelain skin is barely visible between the scarlet beacons.
Unfortunately, his illness has coincided with the Other Mrs Reed Warbler’s absence. Though he was poorly before she left, the pox only took hold once she was 35,000 feet in the sky. I’ve played down his symptoms for her, but I have been worried. Especially at his loss of appetite. Little Chick will happily eat and eat and eat, but only rocket lollies have passed through those lips over the last three days. But he’s well enough and she needs the break. I can’t give her peace of mind, but I can try to ease any unnecessary guilt.
He is so vulnerable. He is limp, physically and emotionally. This is how I imagine he could have been as a tiny baby. This time, I will ensure his needs are met.
Seeing him in such a fragile state is shocking. My strong robust little bruiser looks so small and delicate. He clings to me in a way he never has before. I didn’t think it possible, but I think I love him more. I feel like I’ve glimpsed his life before us, before foster care, and I’ve seen him. Exposed. The protective armour he has donned since his arrival has suddenly fallen to the ground. In a perverse way, his illness has been a blessing for me, accelerating the building of the bond between us, deepening the attachment.
We are cocooned, the two of us. The highs and lows of parenting juxtapose. The love grows.