Chicken Pox: A Beginner's Guide

Chicken pox
Spotty Elsa not happy about being stuck in the house.

The Elsa of five years time will be gutted. As all of her friends are lazing in front of CBeebies for a week, my daughter will be learning phonics or working hard at numeracy on her own because she has already had chicken pox. What for most of us was a banker for a week off school has simply proved an annoyance to this sixteen month-old who couldn’t attend playgroup, belt out the tunes at Sing and Sign or go on holiday after catching it the other week.

Our bags were packed for a trip away, we’d eaten all the random selections of food in the fridge in a series of bizarre concoctions so we didn’t have to do the big shop again before we left and I’d booked the week off work. There were a couple of rough nights of what we presumed were teething, but then the spots came. And how the spots came! She went from ‘nought’ to ‘dalmatian’ in what seemed like minutes with a temperature that rested just a midge south of volcanic lava.

After a Christmas that was plagued by a family sickness bug, this was another stark lesson in the world of parenthood. A simple equation: kids = germs.

The thing about chicken pox specifically is that there are two general reactions when you finally break free from self-imposed quarantine and you mention that your kid was struck down. Firstly, there will be a nervous scratch, a step away and a worried enquiry about how long ago it was and at exactly what point the spots scabbed over. You become obsessed with scabbing over – it is the signifier, according to the doctor, that they have stopped being infectious and that you can finally begin to reintegrate yourself into society. You are on constant Scabwatch – the least enticing of the Springwatch, Autumnwatch, Winterwatch franchise.

The other reaction is more surprising – a good number of the parents will curse the fact that you hadn’t let them know sooner or they’d have brought their offspring round to play. Apparently the earlier you catch it, the easier it is (although it certainly didn’t seem easy to us), so mums and dads are actively looking for opportunities to infect their cherubs. Little do those suckers know how much calamine lotion costs.

With a little foresight, this could have been a great business opportunity – I could have rented Elsa out around the West Yorkshire area to kids who were yet to endure the itchiness. The double bonus being that I would get free babysitting for an hour and I could charge them a tenner for the germs. Perfect. I might have to work on my Dragons’ Den pitch though.

Obviously the above is a joke – I think I may have even more trouble getting it past Jill than I would with Duncan Bannatyne (by the way, does Bannatyne ever invest? I don’t think I’ve seen him spend a single penny – I have a theory that he isn’t rich at all, he just wandered in out of the rain in the first series and has refused to give up the seat since). Not only that, I couldn’t be so cruel as to deny a generation of kids a week off school in five years time. I’m not a monster.

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