Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Not Going Out

So here we are, not going out. Not having a babysitter. Not leaving LittleBear. Not following all the unsolicited advice I received about making sure I "kept at it" and that I didn't let one little set-back put me off. Here I am, not believing that all I have to do is what everyone else does, and all will be fine.

It's two weeks now since we went out and LittleBear crumbled. And since then, he's managed to find some reason that a parent is required every evening, except the evenings when there was someone else sleeping in his room with him*. We've had additional wee-ing, additional poo-ing, itchiness, pain, being too hot, being too cold, having a nightmare (despite not being asleep), not being able to get to sleep, being worried, having a sore finger. You name it, and LittleBear has thought of it. In my worst moments I am certain it is a conscious effort to ensure that we are still there, and can be called upon at any moment. In my less angry and resentful moments, I am more convinced that his poor subconscious mind is desperately worried about abandonment, and he can't help himself in his need to know that we are there and will always look after him. And sometimes he just needs to go to the bathroom.

I arranged a babysitter. LovelyGirl who coped so admirably last time with his misery at being left. He likes her. We went round to visit her after The Incident, to give her chocolate, and play with her kitten, and play with her, and he had a wonderful time, and she plied him with more chocolate, and he came home thinking she was splendid. So we made a lovely new plan, where she'd come here in time to read him a bed-time story (as well as having his normal stories from one of us). And we planned not to leave straight away, but to wait and be here with her while he got used to the idea that she was downstairs too.

And now I've bottled it. She was due to come tomorrow, and tonight we had not one, not two, but three summonses upstairs to tend to a variety of real or imagined ills. And my spirit was crushed. I can't face even trying. I've cancelled LovelyGirl. I feel defeated. On the one hand I fear that I'm allowing myself to be emotionally manipulated by my son. On the other hand I cannot bear the idea of causing him the level of distress and anxiety that gave him night terrors last time. I don't know how to coax his subconscious mind into being fine with someone other than his parents in the house with him. I can't rationalise it out of him, despite his splendid ability to be rational and logical. He knows, rationally, that all will be well. He knows, rationally, that we will never abandon him. He knows, rationally, that LovelyGirl is lovely and will look after him. He knows, rationally, that he is loved beyond all reason. But his heart still doubts. And I don't know how to erase those doubts.

I tried suggesting to him that maybe there could be something I could give him to take to bed, something so precious that he knew I would always return for it. Except, the only thing I can think of that is that precious to me is my LittleBear himself. Which I told him. He countered with the suggestion that he take my handbag to bed, and then I wouldn't be able to go out. Perhaps he is a devious little child after all...

So now I just feel like I've failed. I've failed to raise a robust little child. I've failed to enforce any kind of "parental authority" and insist that he cope. I'm the parent who bends to the whim of her small tyrant, and gives up all semblance of life.

And I find myself fearing being judged by other parents more than I fear that failure. I fear being condemned for my failings. I fear being told that I just need to get on with it. I fear being told about how everyone else's child sobbed and wailed and they just left them anyway, and I should do the same thing. Because my LittleBear may have his fears and his foibles and his irritations, but he is my LittleBear, and he won't need me forever, but just now he does, and if I have one job as his mother, it's to make sure that he is secure and loved. I was not the mother who was capable of letting her baby "cry it out", and I'm not the mother who's capable of letting her six-year old sob himself sick because he doesn't want to be left. I need to remind myself of the first of the lessons I learnt about having a baby This is just a phase. And yes, BigBear and I could go out, and spend our time fretting about our LittleBear, and come home to handle night terrors and sleeplessness. Or we could just spend our evenings at home together, and be here for our fragile little boy until he is ready for us not to be.

So please, feel free not to tell me about your amazing child-free evenings and weekends. Don't assume I want to know how awesome your babysitting strategies are. Don't advise me that he'll "get over it" if we force the issue. Don't try and reassure me that because your child overcame their fears, mine will too if only I do what you tell me. Because I already have a reputation as being the mother who cries a lot and swears too much, and I might just resort to one or both of those strategies if you offer me your words of wisdom. Even if your words of wisdom are right. Because at the moment, I'm following my second piece of advice - I'm doing what works for us, until it stops working. I'm not going out. Until I do.

* We had the Tigger family staying with us for a few days during the holidays, and BoyTigger (almost 8) shared LittleBear's bedroom with him. They both went to bed calmly and without fuss, and we didn't hear a peep from them.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Night terrors and daytime fears

It turns out it wasn't just the baby-sitter.

No, it was something new and peculiar happening inside LittleBear's head. Because it's now happened three times in the past week, with my beloved little boy not waking up, but still sitting bolt upright in bed, sobbing and whimpering, trembling convulsively and muttering incoherently. Last night it was "Mummy.... Mummy.... Mummy...." as I held him close and smoothed his hair. I simply held him until the episode passed and his body relaxed back into sleep, at which point, unlike the previous two incidents, we were then able to tuck him back under his own covers and leave him to sleep peacefully for the rest of the night. And he has absolutely no memory of it today.

I'd been out with a couple of friends last night, and LittleBear had known this. Did a fear of my absence trigger the distress, as it seemed to on The Night of The Babysitter? Did being exhausted from a full day at holiday camp cause his sleep to be somehow askew?

According to the NHS, night terrors are not anything to do with deep psychological trauma, but can be exhaustion, illness, anxiety, or even a full bladder, and I'm finding it very hard to believe them. The NHS also say you should not hold or comfort your child during a night terror, but simply allow it to pass while making sure your child is safe. And I definitely don't believe them, because my son needs the security of my arms around him, and my voice in his ear, and my kisses on his sweaty, scared little head. With every fibre of my being I know that to be the case. The way he clambers into my arms, even in his sleep, tells me so. The way he burrows his head into my chest tells me so. The way he clings to me tells me so. So, one has to wonder why I even bothered to consult the NHS, since I have decided to either partially or completely reject what I've read.

So here I sit, tired and somewhat fretful. Again. In fact, I think "tired and somewhat fretful" is probably the best description I can come up with for my state since bringing another human being into the world. It's probably what I should have called this blog from the beginning.

And, because I'm tired, the world is once again becoming a dark and horrible place. And because I'm somewhat fretful, most of those concerns revolve around my LittleBear and his wellbeing. Except the ones that revolve around my own fragile sense of self-worth. Sometimes I manage to let the two intersect. For example, currently I am veering firmly into being convinced that my LittleBear is in some way irrevocably damaged, and that it is all rooted in my evil abandonment of him for an evening last week. Two birds with one stone there - he is emotionally scarred and I am a bad mother.

Naturally, when I allow the rational, normal part of my brain a say in things, I start to think that perhaps the fine folk of the NHS might know something. But I think we've already, all too frequently, established that when I am over-tired I do not allow the rational, normal part of my brain very much airtime. So today I am tired, and therefore I am useless and a failure, and my precious baby is damaged and afraid. It doesn't even matter that almost every parent I've spoken to has an anecdote about their own child's night terrors. Night terrors appear to be one of those things that happen to a great many children, and yet almost nobody ever mentions them. It remains something of a mystery to me why there are so many of these parenting secrets. Was there a set of classes I missed in which we were told all these things? Is everyone else more assiduous about reading books on childhood development? Is this just another way in which I've failed? By being ignorant of the things that might befall my boy, I condemn him to my own incompetent mothering.

I said to a friend the other day, "I don't know why LittleBear worries about everything so much..."

My friend looked at me with one eyebrow raised and laughed.

He has a point.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Best Laid Plans...

I don't know if the mice were involved in the plans, but the plans of men definitely went a-gley last night.

Big Bear and I went Out. We went into the village for a nice meal out together. This is part of a New Drive that I've initiated to try and actually do nice stuff together. I decided that at six-and-a-half it was about time we got LittleBear used to the habit of being babysat by someone other than his grandparents (who achieve this feat about once a year, being so distant from us) or by Piglet, who has her own small Piglets to wrangle. We've had two lovely young people, NiceGirl and NiceBoy, come round and play with LittleBear, so that he gets to know them beforehand. He was very taken with both of them, and enjoyed lecturing NiceGirl on his preferred volcanoes and their attributes almost before she'd had a chance to sit down. So last night, she came to babysit. LittleBear knew this in advance, agreed that this was OK, and went to bed as normal.

But, thanks to the bloody clocks changing, LittleBear was still not asleep when NiceGirl arrived, despite it being half past eight. So, on hearing the front door open and close, a small voice piped up from upstairs....

"Mummy? What's going on?"

"NiceGirl is here my love, so Mummy and Daddy can go and have dinner."

"Can I have another cuddle?"

"Yes of course you can."

So upstairs we trotted and gave LittleBear extra cuddles and kisses. I got a "night night" along with a bit of a trembly bottom lip. BigBear got a rather more final, "Goodbye," in the tone of one saying farewell for the final time.

With a certain amount of trepidation we went out, moderately sure that LittleBear was tired enough to simply fall asleep. And we had a nice meal, and a drink, and chatted to each other, and there wasn't a peep from either of our mobiles, despite us having them sat on the table so we could anxiously poke them from time to time. All seemed well. And then we came home.

NiceGirl reported that LittleBear had started crying after we left and declaring that he didn't like it when Mummy and Daddy aren't there. And then he'd announced he felt sick, so she'd taken him to the bathroom (where he wasn't sick). And then he cried some more. And finally, after cuddles and reassurance from NiceGirl, he'd fallen asleep. At about half past nine.

My poor baby.

My poor babysitter.

We duly snuck into his room and kissed his sad, snoring little head and whispered that we loved him before going to bed ourselves. Fortunately I didn't have much time to lie awake fretting about the emotional trauma caused to small boys and teenagers by my selfish desire to spend some time with my husband. Nor did I have time to have much (if any) sleep, before I heard the telltale sounds of a distressed small boy emanating from his room.

In I dashed, to find my LittleBear sitting up in bed, bewildered and distraught. I'm still not sure if he was actually awake for the next half hour or so, because he made almost no sense. He trembled and shook. He cried and whimpered. He squirmed and thrashed. He begged and sobbed.

"I can't do this..."

"I hate this..."

"It hurts..."

"I'm sad..."

"I'm so sad..."

"I can't explain..."

"I can't..."

"I don't like this..."

He (again) said he felt sick, but wasn't.

Nothing we could do seemed to get through to my poor boy. Nothing could stop the trembling. He tried to explain that everywhere hurt if you touched him, (which sounded rather like a hyper-sensitivity I get when very, very, very tired or ill, when the surface of my skin becomes unbearable to touch). He flailed around and was immune to all forms of cuddle, comfort and reassurance.

Eventually we did what every parent does - we dosed him up on Calpol and carried him off to Mummy's bed while banishing Daddy to the spare room.

As soon as his head hit the pillow in our bed, his little body relaxed and he fell asleep. Literally the very moment he was tucked in. The trembling stopped, the whimpering stopped, the breathing slowed, the limbs relaxed. After a couple of minutes he flailed an arm, hit me, disturbed himself, announced "I'm sad" in a pathetic manner, before sliding back into sleep again. He slept soundly and solidly until my alarm went off at 7:10am at which point he had only the vaguest recollection of the trauma of the night, and agreed he'd probably been having a nightmare. I am not going to insert into his mind the possibility that it was in any way related to being upset about having a babysitter, though I have my suspicions. Meanwhile I woke every hour or two to stare intently at my sleeping baby and worry what I'd done to him.

So that went well.

And now I'm wondering if, how and when BigBear and I will go out again without a repeat of this trauma (for all involved). I'm wondering how we reached this state of desperate neediness. I'm wondering, as ever, where I've managed to go so terribly wrong with my parenting. I'm wondering what, if anything, I can do to instill more resilience and confidence and happiness in my fragile little son. I'm wondering how other people ever manage to have a life outside their children when it so consistently eludes us. I'm wondering if I'm just going to have to wait until I have a TeenageBear who no longer wants and needs me before I can be free to be an adult human again, at which time my heart will break into a thousand tiny pieces because my beautiful bear no longer wants and needs me.

Nothing is ever simple.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Scrabbling around

The Bear family love words. We play with words. We make silly puns. We write stories. We do crosswords. Some of the Bear family even set cryptic crosswords occasionally. Words are a source of joy and fun. So obviously, being inherently competitive bears, we also enjoy competitive word-smithery, and we play Scrabble.

Playing Scrabble with a six-year old is a different sort of game, when I play it, to playing Scrabble with other adults. It's more akin to playing Scrabble against myself, where my Ego has to help my Id to win*. Not only do I have the challenge of finding good words from a motley collection of letters, but I also have to attempt to manipulate the board to expose useful letters, close to high-scoring squares, that mesh with the letters that I know LittleBear has, so that I can then "help" him to achieve awesome scores. It's more of a meta-Scrabble really.

The good news is that LittleBear loves playing Scrabble, and the more we play, the more words he's beginning to find for himself. Today's words included "frank", "jew", "woven" and "drain". All his own work.

The bad news is that BigBear gave me and LittleBear a joint Christmas present of an official "Scrabble dictionary" so LittleBear is now quite happy to play words such as "qin" and "xi" because he's carefully studied the list of obscure short words for use with tricky letters. BigBear is regretting giving us this book, as he feels this is not in the spirit of Scrabble. I think he may have a point.

The worse news is that LittleBear's expectations are getting higher and higher, such that he is disappointed in any game that doesn't result in at least one seven-letter word and associated 50-point bonus. And today, I excelled myself. LittleBear had the slightly daunting selection of DOXYAIS. I had an unnecessarily large number of vowels, plus an L and a blank. So I nobly threw myself upon my linguistic sword, and played CLUE using my blank as a C, thus liberating LittleBear to play the record-beating, eight-letter OXYACIDS, across two triple-word scores.

Partially-completed, triumphant Scrabble board

LittleBear thus scored 212 points for one word. Just for comparison, I scored 214 points in the entire game. I really have set the bar a little bit too high for myself now...

* I have a pretty feeble grasp of Freud's theories of the self, so apologies to anyone who actually knows what they're talking about on this subject.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Living with a master criminal

I am not, in this case, talking about the Idiot Cat's ability to escape from wherever he's supposed to be, in an attempt to gain access to the bathroom and the sweet, sweet smell of bleach.

Nor am I suggesting that BigBear has developed kleptomaniac proclivities.

No, I am talking about the perils of living with the kind of child who would be drummed out of Vegas. Or, as my parents used to tell me, "people were shot in the Wild West for less..." Because, once again, I am reaping what I sowed, and discovering just how trying it is to live with a child with a prodigious memory. I only wish, in my own case, that I had not filled my adult brain with so much fluff that I am lucky if I can remember my own phone number, let alone recite the names, dimensions, ages and original locations, habitats and habits of dozens of species of dinosaur that most normal people haven't ever heard of.

It is not, on this occasion, LittleBear's ability to remember the personal history of all fossil finds of the last century, that makes me believe a holiday to Nevada is not in the offing. No, it's the combination of alarming memory coupled with playing card games that is causing me to despair at living with a future card-sharp. Fortunately we're still on Top Trumps, and have not introduced him to poker. Yet.

The current favourite, to my surprise, is Volcano Top Trump. It is proving considerably more popular than Dinosaurs, Sea Creatures or Predators.

For those who are blessed enough not to be achingly familiar with the game, it's fairly simple. So simple even a half-wit like me can play and lose with relative ease. There are thirty cards, each one representing a different volcano. On each card are six factors, each with a numerical value. Each player starts with half the cards in a stack, looking at only the top card. The first player picks what they believe to be the best factor of their current volcano and announces it. The second player must then declare the value of that factor on their current volcano. Whoever has the highest value wins both volcanoes, puts the cards to the back of their pack and picks a factor from the next volcano. The aim is to win all the cards.

A spectacularly bad photo of a Top Trumps card

Here, for instance, is Fuji. Some of the factors are a little, shall we say, arbitrary. For example "Wow! Factor" appears to be an assessment of how cool the writers felt the volcano in question to be, with Fuji topping the poll at 100 out of 100. And for reasons I haven't fathomed, "Wow! Factor" and "Unpredictability" have a maximum value of 100, whereas "Deadliness" and "Devastation Potential" both go up to 1000. For those who might feel that these last two factors are quite similar, in fact "Deadliness" is based on how many people have actually been killed in the past by said volcano, and "Devastation Potential" is based on explosivity, potential global damage, and number of people living nearby. Krakatau wins the former category, whereas Campi Flegrei wins the latter (a volcano that, as LittleBear is fond of informing anyone who'll listen, has a town of 30,000 inhabitants built within its caldera.)

LittleBear loves playing this game. LittleBear is particularly attached to the six volcanoes that top the rankings in each category. He is distraught if he loses any of them. Campi Flegrei, however, despite having terrifying potential to devastate the world, is pathetically small and can be defeated by most of the rest of the pack on height. And for those who really care, Cotopaxi is the best all-rounder, not only winning outright in the height category, but having good rankings in another four categories. LittleBear is almost inconsolable if he loses Cotopaxi.

We have now reached the point where when we get to the end of the pack, LittleBear gazes at me with a look of low cunning and muses, "Hmmm, you have a deadliness of 401, but your height is only 1500m, so I'm going to choose height." Because, not only has he kept track of all the cards that have passed, and therefore knows which one is left, but he also knows all its statistics off by heart. And thus I lose Unzen, which is indeed only 1500m high.

Perhaps more alarmingly, he also recalls which cards have beaten which other cards during the course of a game, so if he wins Mayon from me, again a look of low cunning passes across his visage, as he recalls that Mayon last beat Mount St Helens and that all he needs is a respectable deadliness and Mount St Helens will be within his grasp once more. Rather endearingly, he assumes that I am also capable of these feats of recall. Sometimes he simply tells me "Wow! Factor - Merapi" as though this will magically translate to the number 85 in my head. It doesn't. He has been reduced almost to tears as I win a card off him and he announces, "And now you know what I have next and you'll win that too!" And I have to assure him that no, no I don't know what card comes next, because I have not memorised the sequence of every card that has passed, whilst also forgetting the order that they appeared in during the last seventeen games that we've just played back-to-back. And even if I could remember that it's Teide that comes next, the chances that I can remember much beyond the fact that it's a bit rubbish at several things are slim-to-vanishing.

And it is thus that I have ended up repeating my own parents, and telling my son that if he counts cards he won't be allowed in a casino. Because, obviously, being a six-year old boy isn't reason enough for him to be excluded from dens of iniquity.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Books, books and books

Books are a major feature of my life. I am currently contemplating ripping out the fitted wardrobes in the spare bedroom to make more space for books.* I've kept lists, or even written reviews, of every book I've read in some years. Except when I didn't.

I don't, this time, have any Major Thoughts, or even Great Revelations, about books today. Instead I have a series of minor moments in my book-life.

Some people, especially those with children, will have been aware that it has been World Book Day recently. As is always the case, this involved LittleBear dressing up as a character from his favourite book. So far, so good. It also, this year, involved making a potato into a character from a favourite book. Because nothing says "books" like a potato. And it was a competition. Competitive potato-ing. Nothing says "books" like competitive potato-ing. So LittleBear and I turned  a baking potato into Winnie the Pooh-tato and a new potato into Piglet. Obviously I helped. I wielded the pipe cleaners with which to form arms and legs (and Piglet's head) and I sewed sleeves on Pooh's little red coat. But I bit my tongue, and sat on my hands, and let LittleBear do all required drawing, colouring and afixing of limbs, coats etc. And I was very proud of out joint effort.

Winnie the Pooh-tato

Then there was a display of all the entries in the school hall. And it became clear that the parents at LittleBear's school span the full spectrum when it comes to "helping" with homework. There were potatoes that were clearly entirely the work of a five-year old child. Or an adult with a Picasso-esque approach to the human form. There were potatoes that were clearly joint efforts. And then there were potatoes that no child had been allowed in the room during the construction of, that made me feel rather sad. Yes, they were beautiful, and clever, and creative. But so what?

On the plus side, World Book Day also results in LittleBear receiving a book token. And since today was Mothering Sunday, I chose my treat for the day - to be allowed a trip to the bookshop, and to be allowed the opportunity to purchase books for me. LittleBear could be persuaded that this was an admirable idea by assuring him that we would also be buying him a book. So we had a lovely time in Waterstones, and BigBear and I came away with five new books, and LittleBear with two new books. I excused this profligacy because I have a little card that gets stamped every time I spend £10 in Waterstones, and once it's been stamped 10 times, I get a £10 discount. And today was "free" £10 day, as we toppled over the 10 stamps mark**. BigBear seemed excessively keen to point out that this was not in fact a "free" £10, as I had spent at least £100 in obtaining it, but I was not going to allow the tedious minutiae of facts to get in the way of my frisson of excitement at receiving it.

The most exciting bit (for me) was the fact that LittleBear was taken by the idea of a new work of fiction, that he had not read before. Admittedly it's a rather clichéd "boy wants to be a premiership footballer" story, but nonetheless, it's a story, and not an encyclopedia of dinosaurs, sea creatures or volcanoes. We did buy a book about volcanoes as well, obviously. To maintain the momentum of having bought a new work of fiction, we started reading said clichéd football book after dinner. And carried on, and on, and on until bathtime. The tension was unbearable as Small Boy in Book faced bullying, and upset, and risk, and LittleBear clung on, desperate for a happy ending. Which is how BigBear ended up undertaking 50 minutes of bedtime reading, instead of 15 minutes, as there was absolutely no way that our LittleBear was going to go to sleep without knowing what happened to Small Boy in Book. For anyone who was concerned, there was a happy ending. Phew.

Meanwhile, I have been reading what is, I would say, the best popular science book I've ever read. It's interesting, well-written, stretches me to think without vanishing into overly technical jargon and without dumbing everything down. It's funny, it's entertaining and it's illuminating. So I shall issue forth a big thank you to my dear aunt, who recommended it to me over a year ago. I have rather parsimoniously waited until I could buy it in paperback instead of hardback. And besides which, my bookcases are all carefully crafted to house paperbacks as densely as possible, and hardbacks both don't fit and mess up my filing system. So I shall recommend to everyone else that they read "A brief history of everyone who ever lived" by Adam Rutherford. It's brilliant.

* This is not as absurd a bibliophilic step as it at first seems. The fitted wardrobes currently completely enclose a chimney. If they didn't, then the chimney could be face with books instead. I would have more bookcase space, and no longer have a pair of doors that open onto a blank, brick chimney breast. A win-win situation.

** I was delighted that the man at the till asked me if I had a new, plastic rewards card, or an old stamp card, and when I asked if I should move to the new system he said, "No, the old one's better, I'll give you another of those." Honesty from someone who is supposed to upsell you onto a scheme whereby they harvest your name, personal details, contact information and purchasing habits is a breath of refreshing air.

Sunday, 4 March 2018


Nearly two weeks have passed since I last wrote anything here.

What's been happening? Have I lost my internet connection, or merely my writing mojo?

Actually, I've been ill. I started sickening for a cold while staying with GrannyBear, en route for Lyme Regis. I almost perked up, but then didn't. Perhaps it was a 500 mile round trip in 5 days. Perhaps it was two days tramping around a cold, wet beach. Perhaps it was a serious sleep deficit caused by The Noisy Family. Whatever it was, I took the almost unprecedented step of taking a day off work. I spent 7 hours sat on the sofa, drinking lemsip and allowing the Winter Olympics to wash over me. I thought I felt better after that, and returned to work. That was thirteen days ago.

My nose streamed, and then streamed some more.

And then I developed a sinus infection, and it was excruciating. The right hand side of my face was an inferno of pain. Swallowing drove needles of agony through my right ear. But I had a party planned, so I dosed myself up on pain-killers, drank gin and had some friends round for a Saturday evening of merriment.

And when Monday rolled round, I just wanted to stay in bed. But since my boss had come to the party, it seemed a tad cheeky to be well enough to stay up late drinking, but not well enough to work, so I went to work clutching a hot water bottle to the side of my face. (Yes, I actually did.)

I slept with my face on a hot water bottle.

I took painkillers.

I took decongestants.

I steamed my head.

And then I started coughing. I coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed. I coughed so much I kept myself awake for hours at a time. And, much like my irritation when other members of my family cough, I became quite vexed. I tried to banish myself to the spare room so I wouldn't keep me awake. But that didn't work. Instead, BigBear retreated to the spare room so he could get some sleep. And I coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed. And still my face hurt.

Unlike me, with my severely limited stores of patience and sympathy, it turns out that LittleBear really is as lovely a little bear as I always say he is. One morning, at around twenty past six, when my coughing had kicked off again, a little voice called out from the neighbouring bedroom, "Are you alright Mummy?" I may be biased, but it's almost impossible not to love him.

Just to add insult to injury, on Thursday night, after I'd had a scant 3 hours of sleep, my LittleBear woke up and was sick. Since there was already spare space in my bed, he joined me there, along with the washing up bowl. And we proceeded to have half-hourly interludes of being sick or having emergency trips to the bathroom to evacuate other parts of his digestive system. And then it was morning. Three hours sleep. This part of my life was supposed to be over.

I went to work for a rest (and a meeting with an important customer) in the morning, leaving BigBear holding the fort (and the bucket). Fortunately the bucket was not necessary, and in fact LittleBear showed every sign of having nothing whatsoever wrong with him. I managed to survive the afternoon with him without swearing, which felt like a major achievement.

This morning I, finally, woke up feeling somewhat improved. The cough was abating, my sinuses were no longer discharging all manner of yellow, orange, red and brown unpleasantness, I didn't even have a headache. So LittleBear and I went into town to cheer BigBear on as he ran a Half Marathon. By the time I got home, after an hour outside in the cold, I was trembling, my face was throbbing and I wanted to cry. So, despite BigBear being the one who'd just run a Half Marathon, I went to bed in the afternoon and slept. And took painkillers.

I'm almost human again now. Almost.