Your crippling social phobias will allay long enough for you to entertain the largest group of children you are not obliged to have at your house if not for a birthday. They will kiss and dance and squabble and feed each other handfuls of hummus, sand, bogies on toast; that sort of thing. And because you are all liberal; or perhaps, because you are so tired; or perhaps because this is the first adult conversation you have had in months, you and your merry band of other long-suffering parents will not interfere or send them conflicting messages about sharing or delouse and disinfect them as you usually would.
And when things begin to turn; when the babyest packs it in or the eldest begins to resemble a communist dictator; or when the adult conversation turns to money or ailments or age, and bags are packed into bags and babies are packed into bags; and remember the days when you could just walk out the door? And some semblence of sticky normality is returned to your overturned house, you will relax and commend yourself on living the dream; of raising children, of having friends you’ve had since you were children, of having friends you’ve had since you were children and now they’ve children. You’ve come full circle and you all eat organic. Atleast in front of each other.
Then the next day you will receive a call; if they have manners. A text if they don’t. Atleast the text will be in all caps, if they have any decency. ‘OMG!’ it will say. ‘WE HAVE CHICKENPOX!! I AM SO SORRY!!!’. And you be initially sympathetic; send over good vibes or hard liquor, dependent on your resources, and you will talk about the process and keep tabs on the development and tell your own childhood war stories and assure them that these things happen and placate each other with lies like ‘rather sooner than later!’ and ‘better to get it young!’ and ‘no, no, don’t apologise!’.
And then you will wait.
Did you know that Chickenpox has an incubation period of up to 21 days? It does!
And then on the 21st day, after 21 days of ‘Is it? Do you think that’s one? Is this it? IS THIS IT?’ your littlest baby, who is most prone to generosity, and partial to fistfuls of hummus, sand and bogies on toast, will get a cough and a cold and a fever; will yell in your face of this grave injustice; will have a fanny that’s on fire, that you will have to fan with a magazine, for hours on end, while they lie, pantsless, in your bed on a towel, just so they can sleep fitfully enough that they will be less fearsome in the morning. Then as days pass they will itch and pick and flail and not sleep and then only sleep on your head and scab and scar and continue to yell in your face of this grave injustice.
And you will think; gosh, that was worse than you were lead to believe it would be. And, have I been wearing these clothes for 10 days? Is that a new personal best? There will be a tube of calomine lotion in every room of your house. You will have had more luke warm baths and less sleep since that time you got Mastitis. And your friends were right to apologise.
And then you will wait.
Did you know that Chickenpox has an incubation period of up to 21 days? You did?!
Did you then realise that if your other child was not initially exposed, you, my friend, will now have the potential of up to 42 days of combined individual incubation periods PLUS! Up to 10 days of active illness in each child! For a grand total of 62 days of Chickenpox! Right in the comfort of your own home!
And then on the 21st day, after 21 days of ‘Oh no, is it? Bloody hell, do you think that’s one? This is it! THIS IS IT!!’ your biggest baby, who is most prone to hypochondria, and partial to fistfuls of hummus, sand and bogies on toast, will get a cough and a cold and a fever; will yell in your face of this grave injustice; will dare not admit to his fate, though will beseech you for trips to the Doctor, at once and often, for the treatment of his ‘pimples’; will insist on sleeping in your bed, though they are enormous and hot and only content to sleep at a 45 degree angle, which you will abide with a toe up your nose so that they will be less fearsome in the morning; then as days pass they will itch and pick and flail and sleep and scab and scar and continue to yell in your face of this grave injustice, and remind you, constantly, to make them that Doctors appointment.
And you will think; nothing. You will be a withered husk of zen-like endurance. Just burn those clothes. You will feel anxious if there is not a tube of calomine lotion in every room of your house. You will have had more luke warm baths and less sleep since that time your littlest baby had Chickenpox. You will hate your friends. They could never apologise enough. They should bake you a cake! And mow your lawns! But you’re never socialising again. And not just because you now look like this: