Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chocolate, anyone?

I love a square of chocolate. Last night I ate seven. So did my partner. My children ate one, one and a half, and two depending on their weight. Then we changed the sheets and towels, threw everyone's clothes in the wash, and put the kids to bed. As the strange metallic taste unfolded in our throats, we vacuumed and mopped the floors, scrubbed the toilet, and hung out the next load of washing.

Worm medication comes in chocolate squares, these days.

I discovered it tastes like ordinary chocolate. Not quite the fair trade organic dark chocolate that I usually enjoy, but the chocolate of cheap easter eggs. My kids thought it was good.

What else did I learn? Usually, I hurl bedding and dirty clothes across the room into the laundry basket. This time, I carried them at arms' length, walking sedately and placing them gently into the basket - because, according to the packet, worm eggs can be airborne. Shaking sheets or clothes can dislodge them and send them drifting through the house.

Everything is now suspect. I am sure that every long fingernail, every gap in the floorboards, every grain of sand in the sandpit is harboring parasites, just waiting for a new host.

Living with young children is a deeply bodily experience. Forget the birth, it's the next five years of minor illnesses, poo, and parasites that wear me down. Worms, headlice, vomiting, rivers of snot, slapped cheek, flu, conjunctivitis, croup... this is the year so far. Is our family particularly putrid, I wonder, or does no one else talk about this much?

And the small physical injuries: I'm forever being elbowed in the boobs by someone scrambling for another book. I've spent hours at the physio and the gym treating child-related damage: a wrist so strained from holding down powerfully writhing babies that I was going dizzy with pain; a nerve so pinched from carrying heavy children that I bent double, at times. The skin on my hands peels off in strips: despite slathering on the fancy moisturizer and swallowing countless capsules of fish oil and selenium, fatigue and handwashing triggered eczema and I'm stuck with it until my baby goes to kinder. That's what the specialist says.

The washing machine trills. The fourth load is ready to hang out, and the fifth, sixth and seventh await. It's no wonder that I eat a small square of chocolate in the mid-afternoon, a quiet reward for getting through the day so far, an encouragement to pack the pram and head off to school. But perhaps I'll have to find a new pick-me-up. Because for the next few weeks, a square of chocolate will remind me of an itchy bottom, a mountain of laundry, and a little box illustrated with cartoon worms.

1 comment:

  1. Man, that's crazy - you guys are in the trenches of parenthood! Hopefully the worms out here stick with the garden!


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