The Timeline of an Ill Child


Collect from nursery.

‘They’ve been a bit clingy today: needed lots of cuddles’



Rejects bedtime snack. Concern level flickers.


Child sweats during bedtime story. Child falls asleep huffing clammy metallic breath.


Nonchalantly ask about partner’s work day: ‘Got much on tomorrow? Busy?’


Pause Luther because you thought you heard footsteps upstairs. Is it a child…or a murderer?


Child. It’s a child. Sweating though their pyjamas and swaying on the top step.


Projectile vomit.


False hope: ‘it’s probably just because they’re tired- just an emotional vom. It’ll be fine’


Wretching in to the family sick bowl.


Calpol dispensing.


Calpol resurfacing.


Realisation dawns. Child cannot go to nursery tomorrow. Cue whispered hissings: I’ve got a full day tomorrow. Can’t you stay off? What about I do the morning then you come home at lunch?


Child lays sweatily on someone’s lap and Luther goes back on. No one is really watching. One of you is mentally recalculating their work day.


Ill child is asleep. Nominated parent carries child upstairs whilst other lays down towels,Calpol, glasses of water and plumps cushions and beggars off to the spare room.

Twenty five minute intervals throughout night

Wake. Sit bolt up right. Feel child’s forehead. Uncover hot child.

Wake. Sit bolt up right. Feel child’s cold limbs. Cover child.



Child wakes sunny shiny and full of chat. Expect a debrief with any sibling or person present: ‘I be sick ALL night. I could see my raisins in it!’

Realise child is in rude good health but can’t in all good conscience send child to nursery…can you?…no…no, of course not.


Watch CBeebies with ‘ill’ child whilst checking work emails and feeling guilty about not being there.


Sibling returns from school looking pasty. Feign sympathy and swallow a sick burp.

Fair play, respect and Bourbon biscuits to the parents doing sick days solo. May your immune systems be strong.

4 thoughts on “The Timeline of an Ill Child

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