It’s time for me to be honest.
I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write in this blog. I really did. I had it all planned out. “What is he going on about?” I hear you cry (I don’t).
Let me explain.
Today was Sam’s first full day at nursery. It was, not entirely coincidentally, my partner’s first day back at work after her maternity leave. So far, so predictable.
I had a blog planned, on how we were worried about mutual separation anxiety caused by Sam’s stay at the nursery. I was going to say that my partner and I had planned how she would balance her workload – which before Sam’s arrival had been considerable – taking into account the effort and tiredness that goes along with parenting a small child. I’d expected to build all of this up into a pleasingly tense crescendo, until, surprise surprise, it all turned out well in the end.
That’s what I’d planned to write. That’s not what happened.
I woke this morning feeling like I’d gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson – boxing, not drinking. My head thumped and my throat was sore. “Never mind darling,” said my partner, “you can get a nap after the builders have gone.”
Did I mention we had builders in today too?
What kind of idiot books in builders on an already busy day (see above)? I did. But, to be fair, I didn’t. The building work was supposed to take place last week, but it drifted, as building work has a tendency to do, so that the builders were still with us today. Glorious.
This morning was supposed to be the family version of an exhibition match. A morning where I showed how smoothly it could all run, with me in charge of Sam then dropping him at nursery, while my other half got on with her job (she works from home).
I don’t know if babies have an inbuilt ability to know when important conference calls are happening? Sam was as happy as Larry (whoever he is) until 9 this morning (we decided to start him at the nursery at 10 – easing him in). From 9 onwards, just as his mum began the ‘back to work’ conference call in the next room, he screamed the house down. There was nothing I could do. All the usual appeasing tricks didn’t work. He screamed and screamed, the conference call listened and I became grayer and grayer. I couldn’t take Sam out of the house, because the builders hadn’t arrived (they were predictably late) and my partner was on her besieged conference call and so couldn’t let them in.
I’ve rarely been so frazzled as when I delivered Sam to the nursery. Handing him over I noticed a small – zit like – spot on his hand. I mentioned it to the care assistant, who agreed to keep an eye on it.
Stressed, but relieved Sam was in good hands, I made a mental list of all things I was going to achieve in the next 6 hours. 6 whole, beautiful hours. Time, when you’ve got a little one, is such a luxury. At least, I comforted myself, the worst of the day was over.
I’d just sat down with a coffee, – beginning a piece of writing I’ve put off for far too long – when the phone rang.
It was the nursery.
Sam needed to be collected, in the last half hour spots had broken out all over him. He’d only been a nursery 27 minutes!
I rang the doctors straight away. Had a I done the drinking glass test? I felt sick. It’s amazing how, as a parent, your mind races to the most dramatic conclusions.
Sam’s mum and I raced (literally) to the nursery. I was soaked with sweat when I arrived. True enough, Sam was gathering an impressive collection of red spots. I tried to seem calm as we raced him to the doctors. I couldn’t help but feel guilty about not being more sympathetic during his screaming this morning: clearly he’d been ill and I’d just taken it as grumpiness.
I’ll bring the story to a rapid conclusion. I see no need in drawing it out. It was a viral infection, nothing, thank God, more serious. Nothing, I mean nothing, is more likely to make you feel out of your depth than the prospect of a seriously ill child.
So now, as I type, I’m sitting with a spotty, but sleeping child. Nursery for Sam is out of bounds for the next week so I’m on permanent daddy duty (rather than my usual 3 days). As for my partner’s stress-free transition back to work. Well, that may have been too much to hope for.
I wonder if Sam has hit some kind of record – being removed from nursery on his first day after only 27 minutes?
Either way, it’s not been a day I’ll forget in a hurry.
Must get back to the spotty boy.
The Out of Depth Dad.