This post is brought to you by popular demand. It's taken me a while to get around to writing about it as it's the sort of post that you need to work up to. Today I am feeling strong enough to share it with you, so please enjoy it and be grateful that your child is not Rory:
The day had started so well. With the help if an unprecedented surge of energy and a bit of Bob the Builder style self cheerleading ("Can I clean it? Yes I can"), I'd managed to hoover the floors, clean the bathroom and - get this - wash and dry all the sofa covers without Rory causing too much damage to anything while I was busy. He was nearing 18 months and still quite a handful, but I was able to leave him unsupervised for a couple of minutes as long as I was in the next room. Such was the success of the morning that we'd also been to Aldi for some essentials (fruit, veg, toilet roll), and, buoyed up by my achievements, I dumped the pack of toilet roll by the stairs to take up later, plonked Rory in front of CBeebies and took myself off to the kitchen to knock up a nutritious vegetable soup for Rory to ignore at lunch time.
It took me about 10 minutes to prep all the vegetables for the soup and get it bubbling on the stove, and throughout this time I kept a sharp ear out for Rory. I could hear him wandering about occasionally, but otherwise all was quiet.
"What are you doing Rory?" I called a couple of times.
"Cleaning," came the answer.
I was satisfied with this. He'd recently acquired a toy dustpan and brush and pretend cleaning was his favourite game.
Only, it turned out that that wasn't the sort of cleaning that he was doing. On re-entering the living room, I discovered that he'd managed to get into the toilet paper. I'd never really thought of toilet paper as being something that could explode, but it looked exactly like he'd stuffed the packet with dynamite and detonated it. He'd done an impressive Andrex puppy impersonation with a couple of the rolls, which were festooned around the room in a cheery, convivial sort of way, and the rest of it he'd ripped into clumps and sprinkled with water from his sippy cup. He had then used these makeshift j-cloths to 'clean the sofa'. Toilet paper disintegrates when it gets wet. And it sticks to things. And it can cover quite a distance. My newly cleaned sofa was covered in clusters and shreds of damp toilet roll, some of which had been forcefully ground in during his cleaning endeavours.
I erupted. I'm ashamed to admit it, but you have to understand that I am a hopeless housewife and for once - just once - I was looking forward to my husband coming home to a super clean house. I shouted and scolded and put him on the naughty cushion, then yanked the sofa covers off and shoved them back into the washing machine in a foul mood. It took quite an effort to do the whole kiss and cuddle bit after his time on the naughty cushion was up, but I managed it, and then went and brought him his lunch.
At first I was annoyed beyond belief when Rory refused to touch the soup that I'd so lovingly made, but when he also refused to eat the bread and even turned down a strawberry yoghurt I started to worry. He wouldn't even look at me and wasn't chatting away as he usually did. I felt his head. He was a little warm. Or was he a lot warm? I can never tell. I took a good look at him. Something was different. His face looked puffy. I felt around his glands. Were they up? I can never tell that either. I decided that they absolutely, definitely were up and went into panic mode. Mumps. It had to be mumps. Can't mumps be serious in babies? Something about infertility? Or was it meningitis? Panic. Twitch. Oh God, I was horrible to him and he was feeling ill and he was only trying to help. Poor little boy. What a terrible mother. I got straight on the phone to the GP surgery, where the following conversation took place:
World Weary Receptionist: "Hello, doctor's surgery."
Me: "Oh hi, I'm calling about my baby. He's really not very well. We need to see a doctor today please, as soon as possible."
World Weary Receptionist: "What's your name please?"
Me: "It's Lisa Jarmin."
World Weary Receptionist: "Oh, Rory's mum? He's the little boy with the toy meerkat who ate the antibacterial hand gel isn't he?"
Me: "Yes...no...yes...well...it was Rory who ate it, Les the meerkat was just an innocent bystander."
World Weary Receptionist: (as if talking to very stupid small child) "Yes, that's what I meant."
Me: "Of course."
World Weary Receptionist: He's a character, that one. What's he done this time?"
Me: "I think he's got mumps."
World Weary Receptionist: "Right, and can you tell me his symptoms?"
Me: "Well, his face is all swollen and he's off his food and he seems a bit hot to me. He's not talking much either. Seems a bit quiet, you know?"
World Weary Receptionist: "And are his glands up?"
Me: "Yes. Well, I think they are. They must be because his face is so swollen. Poor lamb, he looks just like a hamster with its cheeks full of f...."
I looked at Rory. He looked back with an expression that very clearly said "I am about to introduce you to a whole new level of mortification."
Me: "Will you bear with me a minute?"
World Weary Receptionist: "Tut. OK."
Me: "Rory, have you got something in your mouth?"
Rory looked at the floor and shuffled his feet in a delinquent manner.
Me: "Rory, SPIT. IT. OUT."
Me: "Hello? Turns out we won't be needing that appointment after all. He had a wodge of toilet roll stuffed in each cheek."
World Weary Receptionist: "........"