I hear the unmistakable sounds of Mr Frog and Tadpole approaching in the stairwell and fling open the front door eagerly. Despite her pitifully spotty and feverish state, Tadpole dives enthusiastically into my arms, giggling with pleasure at being reunited, finally, after a long week apart. I scoop her up and carry her through to my bedroom, where we sit on my (scarlet) bed and I hug her needily, in silence, nose buried in blonde corkscrew curls, while Mr Frog starts unpacking his holdall.
“Mummy, I’ve got la varicelle, look!” whispers Tadpole. At this stage, fully clothed, the full extent of her affliction is not apparent, but the area around her mouth and nostrils is red and inflamed with a swarm of tiny blemishes, and a few larger, crispier specimens are clearly visible in her scalp. I scratch my own head, in sympathy. “Do what I say, not what I do” is my motto.
“Do you know what that’s called in English?” I reply, catching Mr Frog’s eye and smiling.
“Chicken POTS!” shouts Tadpole, triumphantly.
The first I heard of the whole fiasco was a text message received while swaying drunkenly in a London pub, in which Mr Frog informed me that Tadpole had been afflicted with “the chicken pots”. Too preoccupied to correct him, I had allowed him to labour under this misconception for the whole weekend, and any attempt to convince Tadpole that this is not the correct name for her illness is now unlikely to be met with success. Once my daughter gets an idea in her head, she will not be swayed.
“I stopped in Boots and got calamine lotion,” I say to Mr Frog, pointing at the bottle of strawberry milkshake like liquid which sits by the computer, proud of my foresight. I notice then that he is brandishing a prescription as long as my arm. Clearly a French doctor has already been consulted.
The resulting prescription:
- Digluconate de chlorhexidine – a mysterious potion to be used instead of soap to avoid infection;
- Anti-histamine medicine to counteract itching;
- An antiseptic spray to be used on any sores which have been scratched;
- Doliprane syrup – equivalent of Calpol.
“No suppositories?” I remark, an eyebrow raised in mock surprise.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This morning, after a night of fitful co-sleeping, Tadpole and I make it to the neighbouring pharmacie with our shopping list. My gaze is riveted on the till. Things have been getting tight since I signed off my benefits. For Tadpole, it’s business as usual, but I am mostly existing on Franprix’s own brand packet soup and wholemeal sliced bread.
Which makes it all the more galling when the rest of the day is spent arguing with an ungrateful Tadople who:
- refuses to have a bath
- refuses to let me dab on any calamine lotion or use the spray (too cold, apparently)
- refuses to wee for several hours (it hurts, and feels hot)
- refuses to take her anti-histamine (the first dose didn’t taste very nice)
Such is her state of distress whenever I mention any of the above, so pained is her “no THANK YOU mummy!” (I note her rare, desperate use of politeness in this context), so immune is she to bribery (chocolate biscuits, cbeebies on the computer, ice cream) that I find myself utterly powerless to do anything to help Her Royal Itchiness.
My unappetising tomato and vermicelli soup simmering resentfully on the hob, I wonder whether to try and administer potions and lotions in Tadpole’s sleep.