We’ve now been at the country house for a full week without a single water supply outage and just a petty internet outage that couldn’t even come close to a real problem. Because it happened at a time when we had something else to think about.
Una coppia strana
This sentence, which occurs frequently in my Duolingo Italian course means “an odd couple” and I feel it describes me and Big C. pretty accurately (nothing to do with the film, which I haven’t even watched). Especially this week when, after a week of the sniffles, he got sick again and ended up scaring the living lights out of both me and Little C.
You know how sometimes, out of the blue, you start feeling generally unwell for no particular reason and you temporarily acquire a more philosophical attitude to life because We Are All Mortal In The End? It was kind of like that only it escalated in minutes and half an hour after dinner Big C. was dizzy, nauseous, and I would bet he was thinking how we would fare after he’s gone.
Little C. was in tears. She was primed by her father to maintain excellent pandemic hygiene with the hypothesis that she wasn’t very likely to get sick with The Virus but mummy and daddy were and she wouldn’t like not having parents because they died because she didn’t wash her hands. Yep, he would be going to Hell for this if there was Hell but that’s classic Balkan parenting. And now he’s paid for it, as did she.
So, Little C. was in tears, whispering to me “Is daddy going to die?” while I, assuring her he will not die, was wondering if it would be a heart attack or a stroke that will end me right there and then because there is such a thing as too much stress.
By the time we all went to bed (Little C. with us so she wouldn’t have nightmares) Big C. was pissed off magnificently at the betrayal of his own body and I was pissed off magnificently at the fact I had PLANS for the weekend (father and daughter were going to town shopping and I would have three hours of peace) and now he was going to die and ruin those AND the rest of our lives.
To make it all worse, C.’s a horrible patient. He moans and he groans. He sighs a lot. In short, he’s pretty vocal about any kind of suffering he’s experiencing, making even the slightest indigestion sound like a bleeding ulcer. As a result, Little C. got even more convinced her father was about to die. We had one fun night.
Next morning, he was still alive and suggesting we called an ambulance because apparently there were no doctors in town who’d travel to nearby villages to examine people who were feeling unwell. By noon — he spent all morning in bed — he was feeling better and the ambulance was off the table, although he had given me his card PIN and the credentials for online bill payment. That man was ready to go to hospital and apparently thought they’d keep him there until next year. It was only because of my excellent self-control that I did not cause his death by accidental strangling.
By early afternoon he was out of bed and about, no longer nauseous. By early evening we’d found out what was wrong with him: inner ear infection. He had all the symptoms and he had one years ago, so there was precedent (plus same symptoms). And this is when I realised how paranoid we’ve all become with the coronavirus around. It’s our first thought these days, whatever’s wrong, isn’t it? Profound.
Three chickens, no cows
The ongoing family debate about moving to the country permanently yesterday yielded its first result: we’re getting three chickens when we do it. I’d started with a goat because I like goats (I admire the fact they can eat almost anything and they’re nimble on rough terrain). But a goat wouldn’t be practical because a. we don’t drink goat milk and b. we don’t eat goat cheese. Also, c. Big C. noted the goat would eat everything in the garden and I can’t allow that.
Little C. suggested — consecutively — a horse, a cow, a sheep, a donkey, and ducks, and it pained me to strike all these otherwise brilliant suggestions down. There’s simply no space for a large herbivore and we don’t know the first thing about raising them. Same with ducks, except the space problem. Pigs were out because “They smell” so chickens were really the only option left. We’re getting three, to keep them for eggs. I felt very sustainably-minded while we concluded the discussion.
I don’t get my self-control tested very often and I’m glad this is the case. The reason is, perhaps, that I don’t communicate with lots of different people very often, so the possibilities for my self-control to get tested are limited. Well, this week they just got a little less limited as remote classes began.
I’m not an overbearing parent and I’ve left Little C. pretty much alone about school. After the first class on Monday I didn’t even eavesdrop on the lessons, which take place in the room next to mine. I only hear bits and pieces when I take out my earphones to check if they’re still in class or on a break, which is when I must shoo C. from the computer.
But there is homework and it almost became my undoing. Here’s how it works: teachers assign homework, create assignments in Teams, kids do the homework, take a picture of it and upload it to Teams. Simple, really. Except I’m the one taking the pictures because C. has yet to learn the importance of focus in a photograph. And when I take the pictures I can’t not see what she’s written. And I see the mistakes. And I want to fix them. But I shouldn’t.
You’ve no idea what temptation is until you see “My car is purpul”, which is exactly what I saw yesterday when C. finished her English homework for Monday. The strength it took me to withhold the truth until the picture of the page was taken could have won me a gold medal had I chosen a career in sports. But it had to be done because that’s what C.’s teachers asked for. Not to correct their mistakes because it’s through mistakes that they will learn. Ah, don’t we all?
This would be the family motto, to be put on our family tomb in an alternative universe where it’s the 19th century and we have a family tomb. Since we’ve been quite focused on death and dying these past 36 hours and all. And since we constantly ask each other what’s wrong at the slightest suggestion that another member of the family may not be completely and perfectly happy and healthy. We need sedatives.