My daughter has a tendency to overreact when it comes to illness or injury. If she scratches her hand, she can’t walk. If she bumps her head, she needs a bandage and a plaster. If she stubs her toe, she apparently goes blind. A kiss normally makes minor ailments better but I often have to remind her that, in fact, it was the other limb she bashed to which she is offering me.
By contrast, I am much more inclined to under-react and won’t often be seen to panic. I like the term ‘casual parenting’ but I definitely have to make sure I don’t cross the line into just being negligent. My diagnosis is usually “probably normal, let’s keep an eye on it” (For the record, I am first aid qualified, have some pharmacy training and am Ofsted registered, so I am honestly more responsible that I’m letting on! Both my children still have all of their limbs too.)
But something rang go-and-see-the-doctor bells when the first couple of spots appeared on my daughter this week. I prepared her things for nursery, thinking that I would take her straight there after the professionals had confirmed whether we did need to treat her with more than simply water and food. Food does normally solve all problems I’m sure: physical, mental, emotional…
In the waiting room, I started to style my daughter’s hair into a pony tail and noticed another collection of red spots. Then the penny dropped. We were about to embark on a really fun week of chicken pox.
The fun had already started in the waiting room as, by receptionist error, we had to wait for two hours for our appointment. I’m not complaining. We were able to be seen on the same day. The NHS is an amazing service that we are all blessed to be gifted with. For free. Two hours in a waiting room just gave me the opportunity to come up with some creative ways to keep the children entertained.
We sang songs and danced actions. I taught my eldest I Spy, which was challenging because she can’t yet read the whole alphabet…but I felt like I was doing my bit for her education. My favourite game was ‘Can you spot…?’ It went slightly downhill when my three year old declared to the room that she had spotted tadpoles and rainbows on a sexual health poster and wanted to know what the poster was about.
Anyway, we were finally seen by a very apologetic doctor and she confirmed that we did indeed have a week of itching to look forward to. This devastated my child as she realised that she couldn’t go to nursery for the rest of the week. I can only hope that she just really likes nursery, rather than dreads time at home with me.
So we are in the midst of chicken pox week. My girl is enjoying the role of victim a bit too much at times in my opinion and magically forgets her woes when Paw Patrol is played…but my poor little one is having a rough ride and really struggles at nighttime especially. God is stretching my compassion and teaching me to be caring for as long as it takes, not just as long as my patience lasts.
I’ve had a couple of moments where rocking in a corner sounds comforting and raged at God for not just clicking His fingers and healing her straight away. But my gratitude is that we have a daughter. A daughter who will get better. Her body that will then be immune to pox. A house to rest her in. A family and friends to support us and give us sympathy, even in my pathetic moans.
I was also reminded of a special memory when I was holding my girl and stroking her back last night. It took three hours to get her to sleep and all I could do was hold her in her discomfort and pray. The memory that came to mind when I prayed was when I was experiencing considerable pain as a teenager; my Dad felt helpless as he watched me pace the room. I ended up lying down on the bed whilst he rubbed my back and we both fell asleep. I woke up pain-free with my father watching over me.
Now that my Dad has finished with this life and gone to be with Jesus, I am so grateful for that memory. And for the picture it paints of the relationship God offers us. Why do I follow Him? Not so that He does whatever I demand as soon as I demand it. But because He is worthy of being followed, and of being praised. I follow Jesus because I want to be part of that picture of a Father loving his child. I am so grateful to call God my Heavenly Father.