Every once in a while I am surprised by my own behaviour. It’s as if I have transported my being into the body of a fly. The fly stands on the ceiling to observe me. From this vantage point, I have a whole new perspective. And there I am, running around in my dressing gown, in hot pursuit of a medium sized child. I have a teaspoon in one hand full of pink goo and the other hovers beneath, a cradle for the drips.
I suspect that each of them learned to recognize the crack of the child-proof safety cap on a medicine bottle from far too early an age. It was always ear infections with raging fevers and accompanying pain. The medicine was not associated with relief as it is for some but instead became associated with a chase. Little fat chubby legs propelled them to scatter like gulls at the sound of the crack, all of them, regardless of who was the real victim. The compensating M&M was insufficient to overcome the fight or flight response. I doubt if a sack of M&M’s would be enough, nothing is enough to counteract that initial response. All too often these little habits have their roots in the long distant and hazy past. They build over time and reinforce themselves upon each additional exposure. We run like rats through the groove of our own making. Our brains tell us that we’re repeating the same mistake over and over again but somehow our bodies continue to follow that well worn path without question. If there is a question, it is very quiet and ill formed. Certainly insufficient to make us pause for more than a nano second and not enough to make us stop, think, re-group and start afresh.
Generally, these habits aren’t wrong, wicked or corrosive, merely completely daft, but it takes an intervention to put on the brakes and break the cycle.
“Can’t stop now I’ve nearly got him. Be with you in a minute.”
“What on earth are you doing?”
“I just need to give him his anti-biotics. Now look! I’ve missed him. He’s hidden somewhere.” I glare at my daughter, the cause and source of the medico interuptus.
“Look at you.”
“Look at what?”
“Yes, it was so much easier when they were smaller when I could use those squirty things. Now I need better aim.”
“Is there any medicine still left in that spoon?”
“Of course. I’ve hardly spilled a drop, 5 ml give or take. I’ve had lots of practice. I’m an expert. I could run an egg and spoon race and win with a blindfold.”
“Blindfold! Blinkered! Barmy!” she leans down to grab her little brother’s ankle and hauls him along in his blanket cocoon to the kitchen. I mince behind them on tip toe, ready for the screams of protest. “Come on you. Up you get. Let’s see you stand on your legs.” My youngest son stands up, on his legs.
“Take a step nearer the sink and lean over so I can clean you up if you get all mucky.” My son leans over the sink and juts his chin forward. My daughter reaches for the spoonful of medicine, “open wide!” He opens wide, very wide. “Now swallow.” He swallows and blinks hard as a little shudder ripples through his body. “There you go. Easy as pie. The trouble with you is that you’ve made it into a game,” she announces as she folds her arms across her chest and leans back against the counter. In one fell swoop she has managed to achieve what I have been trying to achieve for approximately 12 years, give or take a decade. Despite myself I beam.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing……..” I lean against the opposite kitchen counter, “I’m just really glad that you’re they’re legal guardian.” My son slumps against me to add “Mum’s game is fun…..I dun wan a guardian angel.”
The drips have escaped here and there, neon and glistening, a veritable feast for a fly.
I wonder if angels do clean up when they’re off duty?