Varicella zoster.

Sounds like a designer handbag doesn’t it.


It’s the virus responsible for unleashing days of torment on your household. The fancy medical term for the dreaded…


And it happens to be the reason I spent the weekend mostly snaffling knock-off Snickers bars from Makro and slathering the limbs of a fretful, flushed toddler in ViraSoothe.

Our eldest daughter and middle son had chickenpox within a week of each other a few years back.

I remember bracing myself once I’d spotted those first few little red bumps. And I’m sure I shouted ‘Batten down the hatches!!!’ more than once.

I raided the chemist of whatever lotions I could get my frantic hands on. Lotions that promised to relieve the itching, minimise scarring and bring world peace.

In the end, it was all a bit of an anti-climax.

They were out of sorts for a day or two but there was no dramatic, apocalyptic-style burning of sage and wringing out of sodden cloths to mop clammy brows.

And so I smugly boasted for several years thereafter that chickenpox was no big deal.

‘A minor childhood illness,’ I’d tell people smugly, having come out the other side with nothing more to show for our troubles than a couple of half-hearted Calpol syringes in the cutlery basket of the dishwasher.

Then along came karma on Friday evening past, in the form of a few innocent looking spots on the chubby leg of our littlest daughter.

And when I say daughter I mean demon.

She is not a good patient.

She is not even an ‘OK’ patient.

By Saturday morning, she was covered in angry, red pustules, and, if parenting was one prolonged episode of Hey Duggee, I was 5mls of paracetamol suspension away from earning my ‘Chickenpox Badge.’

And of course as horrible as it all is, it’s obviously not her fault that she’s a cloven-footed convalescent.

She’s at the age where she enjoys getting involved.
Involved in the mischievous merriment of her siblings.
Involved in helping me around the house. Involved in emptying entire boxes of cereal over the kitchen floor and putting her dinner on her head.

When she feels wretched and sore and itchy and not at all like getting involved, she doesn’t understand why. I can’t explain to her why she feels terrible. I can’t explain to her that she’ll get better soon. I can’t explain to her why she doesn’t feel like getting involved.

And so, frustration gets heaped onto an already afflicted child, leading to a sort of micro-anarchy in the household.

We’ve had 3 days of excruciatingly scarce sleep, and trying (and mostly failing) to comfort our little contagious ball of blisters and drool.

The house is an absolute cesspit, I’m behind with the washing and, in a fit of delegation, I packed my older children off to school today with money for them to take dinners all week, so impossible was the idea of trying to find time in the chaos to fill two lunch bags each night. I even had the audacity not to send the right change (a major breach of the unofficial ‘School Parent Code’) such is my lack lustre attempt at life admin these days.

But we will weather the storm.

As I continue along this log flume ride of parenthood, I’ve learnt that the house can always be reinstated to its former glory (or at least its former ‘humans live here’ state) another time.

I’ve learnt to prioritise better. And this weekend that priority was holding, swaying, patting, singing to and receiving inadvertent headbutts of frustration from the little wailing, diseased one; morning, noon and night.

I’ve heard that chickenpox is presently doing the rounds at the school my older children attend, and therefore probably half of the province as well, given what effective transmitters of disease children can be.

If pus-filled blisters, hot foreheads and restless limbs are currently trending in your house then remember that sunnier skies will come.

And by sunnier skies I mean restoration of the evening ‘wine-drinking window’ and availability of clean pants.


1 Comment

  1. Freda Lindsay
    12th March 2018 / 7:08 pm

    Oh God love you honey . Been there done that 3 children and 3 adults in my home with the dreaded big C . I was the only one that didn’t get it . Was worried about that to as I never had them or any off those childhood illnesses. But I weathered the storm as you will too.

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