Last Friday, my wife took a rare day off to spend the last day of half-term with her family. What a mistake!
She never takes time off, my missus. A obsesssive dedication to duty combined with a mountainous workload legislates against such luxuries. Aside from statutory holidays, I think the last time she took any time off was some time last summer.
Last Friday, though, I decided it would be good for her, good for her kids, good for her family. And most of all, good for me – because after nearly a week with my adorable children I was beginning to climb the walls.
And so, reluctantly, my wife took a break from the grind of the office and swapped it for the grind of home.
As I said, what a mistake.
It all started off well enough. She took our sons to a soft play centre (my stepdaughter was spending the week with her dad) and then for a hot chocolate and had a great time, all thoughts of work forgotten for the day.
In the evening, we put the kids to bed, had a bottle of wine and, er, and early night.
And then at 3 o’clock in the morning, a little person appeared at the side of our bed.
‘Can’t get in bed,’ he said.
‘Oh, Sam. Have you had a nightmare? Would you like to get in with us?’ my wife asked him.
‘No. I want my own bed. But can’t get in.’
‘Oh, you’ll be fine. Just go back to bed. See you in the morning. Night night.’
A few moments later, I heard soft sobbing coming from his room. I leapt out of bed and ran downstairs, to see our four year-old standing at his bedside and staring at the sheets.
‘What’s the matter, son?’ I said, turning on the light.
And then I saw it: a massive puddle of dark brown vomit.
I’ll spare you the details, but Operation Clean-Up was an efficient success. For approximately 15 minutes. And then BLEURRGH! Up came another load from his tiny frame.
More cleaning up. Then another HUEY!
Eventually, the poor little sod was so wiped out from dry heaving that he fell into a deep sleep, wrapped in clean towels.
The next morning, you’d barely have known anything had happened. He was a little pale in the face and green around the gills, but other than that, right as rain, and so we continued to enjoy our family weekend.
On Sunday, my sister-in-law and her husband and kids came over to spend the day. We went for a lovely meal and then returned to our place to play some games.
And then, out of nowhere BLEUGGH!! All over the carpet.
But this time, it was the seven year-old who was spewing.
Our guests made a timely retreat, because soon after they’d gone, there went that familiar sound again: BLEUGGH.
Only this time it was in stereo – for not only was the oldest son having a reunion with his lunch, but so was his mother.
The Winter Vomiting Bug aka Norovirus had claimed another victim.
BLEUGGH! BLEUGGH! BLEUGGH!
It was like being in the middle of the Frog Chorus.
The comeuppance of all this is that my wife took her second day off work in many months – tucked up in bed with her oldest son, who had to take his first-ever day off sick from school.
So far, me and the stepdaughter haven’t succumbed. So far…!
I think I’ll keep a bowl by our sides just in case.