E has a stinking cold. I prefer it when he brings home a painting from nursery, but this week, he has brought home a particularly virulent strain of nose snot. Mind you, it is a close run thing with some of the items he brings home.
One day as I am on my way to the garden at nursery to pick him up, I notice a tray of small jam tarts. It does takes me a moment to recognise what they are though – first glance does put me in mind somewhat of the leftovers of a particularly nasty road traffic accident. Having done the handover with one of the girls (‘he’s had a really good day’, she says, just as they say every day, even when in the next breath they then tell me that he has been bitten by another child or bumped his head on the slide) I try to make a quick exit, but she gleefully reminds me to take a jam tart home. I select a tart, trying to pick one that looks least likely to have a bogey in it, or have been poked by every grubby finger in the class and we take it home to eat after E’s fruit. Given its four centimetre diameter, it is surprisingly heavy and lands on the plate with a dull thud. One bite in and E abandons it, offering me a bite with his customary generosity that appears about ten seconds after he has decided he doesn’t like something. I refuse, but after much badgering, I relinquish and take the smallest bite possible. Holy shit, how does pastry get quite that hard? Actually, I would rather not know as I am already feeling a tad nauseous.
So here we are, at bath time, with E sneezing his way through giving me a bubble beard, producing quite impressive slugs of shiny, green mucus from both nostrils at an alarming rate. As I carry him, wet and shrouded in a towel, to his bedroom, he starts to struggle and whinge. Laying him on the change unit to get him dry, I sense a full-scale paddy just around the corner so launch into a desperate diversion tactic.
“Right,” I say, in the most obnoxious sing-song, children’s-presenter-type voice, “my nice thought is… the beach!” I smile manically like a simpleton (it comes surprisingly easy). “What’s your nice thought?” But E is not to be distracted from the task in hand – his mission to wind himself up into a total frenzy. So I bring out the big guns: the promise of Calpol. Well, he has got a terrible cold. It’s not as if I am just using it as a bribe to behave. As if. That would be irresponsible.
The guarantee of the strawberry elixir does start to work, but I sense I am living on borrowed time, so I hand him the spoon, just to build a little anticipation. This does the trick, and I breathe a sigh of relief. Now, where were we? Oh yes. “My nice thought is… going to the park,” I lie. “What’s yours?
E pauses for a moment. “Medicine.” Okaaaay. This is less a diversion, more of a statement of intent.
“My nice thought is…ice cream,” I say, which is at least true. “What’s yours?”
“Medicine.” Hmm, this isn’t going quite to plan. I sigh.
“My nice thought is… playing with Play Doh. Another whopper. “What is your different nice thought?”
I fear E has a one-track mind; a track leading only to that diminutive, slightly sticky bottle of strawberry loveliness that is currently residing up on the shelf. So I administer two spoonfuls of the aforementioned life-saver and start the bedtime routine, thinking about the imminent large glass of red wine waiting for me
downstairs. Now there’s a proper nice thought.