Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: 'Most of the flight is taken up by an older lady clinging to my husband's hand'

A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline
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Indy Lifestyle Online

It is about five minutes before our cab arrives to take us to the airport that our eldest starts to complain of itchiness.

In light of the nit saga which has characterised much of 2015, I think little of it; besides, most of the flight is taken up by an older lady called Jennifer who clings to my husband's hand, regaling between mouthfuls of vodka her horror at a recent programme on childhood teeth-rot. "I'm a nurse!" she roars, revealing several gaps in the bottom row of her teeth, "and I have never seen anything like it before in my life. And you know what's causing it, don't you? Well, do you?"

Ominous silence sweeps the plane and then she resumes: "RAISINS!" By the time we arrive in Portugal (Jennifer by now trying to snog our toddler), the four-year-old has developed a cluster of unidentified spots down the back of her legs, which I cannot Google, knowing all-too-well that the diagnosis would be, as always, imminent death. "Isn't she cold?" my daughter asks, attempting to replicate the dance moves of Beyoncé, who is writhing on the TV screen in our hotel room. "How are you?" I ask, prising her away. She groans: "More Callllpol..."

Thus ensues the following four days of our family break, which blurs into one revolving mass of VH1, nighttime sobbing, and a book about a talking fire engine. As we board the plane, the final spot magically melts away. At home the next day, I sigh: peace at last. The phone rings: "Hello?" It's our youngest's nursery worker: "Sorry to disturb you, but your son's developed a rash, can you come now?"

motherland.net

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