When getting what you want and what you didn't want are the same
OPINION: At last. My time had arrived.
After years of bitterly resenting workmates who used their sick children as an open ended warrant to take a day or two off work, I had one of my own.
And he was sick. Quite spectacularly sick. When he coughed I half expected a rib or internal organ to dislodge itself. And, what's more, the stars had aligned so that on Thursday I was reasonably obliged to take the day off work to look after him. It was like winning the lottery.
It will probably spoil nothing to say the experience was unequivocally terrible. The expectations I had of spending the day on the couch while infrequently checking in on the sick and sleeping cherub were shattered for the pathetic delusions they were within minutes of getting out of bed.
Sick children, I have discovered, are absolute jerks. They only care about themselves, have absolutely no understanding of even the most basics of logic and think sneezing their infectiousness into your open mouth is the funniest and most worthwhile thing they can do with their life.
They will demand a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, then throw it at you in disgust when they realise it's not porridge. They will then insist you play with them but refuse to let you touch any of their toys.
Then, if you are lucky, they may ride their scooter at fantastic speed into an internal wall, simultaneously cracking their skull and smashing a hole in the plasterboard so that the only thing either of you can do is cry huge tears of genuine pain.
So, yes, they are the worst.
I had discovered all of this by 7.47am, and then my decision to let my son play with a bicycle pump at the breakfast table spectacularly backfired. For me at least.
Though only a short stubby pump he somehow managed to harness every ounce of its kinetic energy to launch his small bowl of milky porridge off the table and all over himself and the kitchen.
It was such a spectacular and unexpected demonstration of the cause and effect of my distracted parenting style that for a second I could do nothing but marvel at how much surface area a half cup of milk and porridge could physically cover. It was incredible.
It is almost certain the Germans have a single word for the complicated melange of emotions you play host to on witnessing such an unforeseen event.
The horror, the total wonder, the realisation that you, and only you, have to clean it all up right now and there is no way out of it is soul destroying. Hazarding a guess I believe the word would something like "shitshitshitbuggeritallshit".
Which, coincidentally, sums up huge swathes of my parenting experiences.
From there it could be said that things actually improved. We built a hut so we could be in closer proximity to each other and thereby aid and abet the efficiency of his sneezing into my face.
We pulled out the wooden blocks so he could ruthlessly smash my creatively wrought towers and then throw the larger pieces at my head.
Then we had something to eat so he could prove to me that banana could also be made to cover a surface area not too much smaller than what you might expect from 10 litres of semi-gloss.
In between these moments of pure father and son joy I also tried to work. To say this wasn't terribly popular with my son would be the equivalent of saying Hitler got Germany into a wee bit of trouble in the 1940s.
But in the end I have to admit it wasn't that hellish. Mostly because I was at home with a fridge full of leftovers to nibble on. Yet, neither was it an experience I would be quick to go through again. And I don't think I will have to.
That is one advantage of being the main source of income in a household. The crushing responsibility of having to work without any significant stretch of time off for the next 36 years generally confers one the benefit of being able to say no to days away from work that may be misconstrued as, well, not really legitimate.
This is probably a good time to acknowledge that for years I had no idea what being a parent meant and so I did think those who took sick days to look after their ailing children were both feckless and lazy.
Now I know this is not the case and so I apologise.
They are almost certainly feckless, that doesn't change, but you can't spend all day with a sick kid and ever be called lazy. The more appropriate word would be one that largely sounds the same, if not for a slightly different beginning.