Snap, Crackle and Ouch!

So what’s been going on since that last post on 3 Feb? Tons!

Boasty bit first: I published a little pattern that some people on Ravelry had asked for. I wrote it up on the sort-of, kiddy-on blog on my business website for free because the pattern wasn’t up to my usual standard. Well, I’m not really a crocheter, and the pattern was just me pockling something together to make a line of hearts for Maxi’s blanket. Well, it just went mental. It’s been all over Pinterest and Ravelry, the crochet pages of Facebook, my website bandwidth was wiped out, and (if I’m reading Awstats correctly), it’s had 3000 downloads. Cool!

I finished my part of an art collaboration between a group of WAHMs. I’ve worked on my knitted bit all winter, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been frustrating and scary and wonderful and challenging. And I’m glad it’s done! I have to wait for the Head Chief Boss Lady to announce it, and then I can write all about it. For now, though, just know that little Mini Minx has spent many hours dressing up in my knitted garment and some other collaboration pieces for photos! Gosh, that child is such a poser… She loved striking every pose I suggested, and revelled in my praise as she came up with some groovy moves herself.

Actually, Mini is the only one who’s only been mildly ill. Midi’s croup stopped after that dose of prednisolone, but by the Monday morning she was breathing far too quickly and shallowly.  So she was straight to the GP getting checked for a chest infection. He started asking about how many puffs of her blue inhaler she was on. I managed a very intelligent “Uh..?!” He stopped chattering, blinked, and stated, “I think she’s an undiagnosed asthmatic”. Oh. Oh! My wee baby! So she was sent home with a puffer and spacer that I had a lot of fun shuttling between school and home for a week or so. However, although Midi used it for a few days at first, she didn’t seem to benefit from it, or feel it made any difference, so I’ve no idea… She wasn’t given a breath-test. It’s been left out as a permanent fixture of the kitchen clutter where I can grab it if need be, but I don’t think she actually does need it. God, I hope I’m not jinxing the wee thing, now!

Midi was off school the Mon, Tues, Wed. I drove Maxi to school every day so that Midi and Mini could sit and cough in the car while I ushered their sister in. Late on Wednesday I realised that Midi was actually well enough to go back to school (clue: she was running around pestering the cats and Mini, and generally re-enacting the beginning of Where The Wild Things Are), so I sent her back on Thursday. I managed to get out to a tot group with Mini, then went to the big Tesco to do the week’s shop. I breezed towards the main door with an excited Mini when my mobile rang. I could see it was the school. I did an immediate smart about-turn and started walking back to the car just as I answered it. Midi was too tired and needed to go home: could I collect her now? Poor lamb! (And poor us – dinner was whatever was salvaged from the freezer for the rest of the week).

Anyway, I got Midi home, tucked her up in a little nest of pillows and fleece blankets in front of CBeebies. She cried at missing her school lunch (macaroni and cheese) and pouted at me not being able to rustle up a replacement for her. Well, if I’d got the phonecall 20 mins later, I might have been able to grab some cheese! Imagine running out of cheese: gimme (another) bar on my Bad Mother medal. Immediately after lunch, I got another phonecall – Maxi needed to come home because she had a sore tummy and felt dizzy. Mothering Fail: sent both kids in to school and was summonsed to retrieve both kids from school. Doh…

Nice bowl of cold sores for you, with lashings of ice-cold milk. Mmmmm!

Nice bowl of cold sores for you, with lashings of ice-cold milk. Mmmmm!

Friday I didn’t chance it and just kept the girls at home. I’d planned a fun day of home-schooling and catching up on missed homework in between big rests on the sofa, but alas my cold was worsening… And kept getting worse. On Saturday my throat hurt. On Sunday I felt weak and bunged-up and lost my voice. By Monday I was relying on the car to get anywhere. The minxes were fine but I was a mess. And I’d started coughing… By Thursday, The Boss had to take a day off work on unpaid parental leave to look after the kids. I’d had so little sleep from coughing all night every night for a week that I was in tatters. I’d tried sleeping on the sofa, propped upright. I’d tried cough medicines. I’d tried Midi’s inhaler, even. Nothing eased it, and the colours and edges in my world became very dull and blurry. On Friday I developed 3 cold-sores. So come the next week again, when the local newspaper photographer was touting for people to be photographed to illustrate articles about us potentially losing our sole classroom assistant, and then losing our library, I really wasn’t in the mood. I’m not a self-conscious person normally (evidence: my bright hair colours), but that week I just wanted to hide in a brown paper bag. It didn’t help when Mini pulled a cold-sore off during a furious tantrum. God, it hurt! And it bled a lot.

The following week, The Boss was informed at work that because he’d been off sick 3 times in one year, he had to attend a Disciplinary Hearing. Now, the unpaid parental leave had nothing to do with it – this was 3 times that he’d been off sick. Actually sick. Proper in-bed-unable-to-fend-for-self ill. At the hearing, although the HR person and his supervisor agreed that he had indeed been ill on each occasion (and in fact sent home one of the times), that because he’d been ill so often (!), he’d get a Verbal Warning if he was off once more before the end of March. Following the company’s disciplinary procedures, then, once you’ve had a Verbal Warning for being ill too often, it doesn’t actually take that long before you’re on a Final Warning and then sacked.

Call me old-fashioned, but when you have little kids that mix with other little kids, they get ill a lot. And because we kiss our kids (told you: old-fashioned), me and The Boss get those bugs often, too. So to me it’s a fair bet that if you have small kids, you’re going to get ill a lot, and have to take some time off work. But knowing that you could get formal warnings for it, to my mind, just encourages a culture where people drag themselves into work and remain in work when they really should be recovering at home. Yeah, great: go into work and share your germs with the entire office! Mrs A who’s newly-pregnant after umpty-ump miscarriages and could really do without being ill; Mr B who’s just come back after a gruelling chemotherapy run; Miss C whose bout with your flu will cause her more long-term damage than it will you, and take away the last vestiges of quality of life that she had. But that’s ok: you smugly showed off how stoic you were by coming into work. So that’s all worth it, isn’t it? They were just collateral damage of your machismo. And don’t even start me on the woman at The Boss’s company who allegedly has frequent bouts of diarrhoea, but boasts about how ‘hardy’ she is that she’s never off work. She doesn’t physically handle the food made there, but what if everyone has that attitude? It beggars belief! Why don’t we have a culture where people actually trust each other that we’re not swinging the lead, and are phoning in sick because we’re genuinely ill and really shouldn’t be passing on our germs? In my last job I tried to change things in my tiny corner of the world and sent ill staff home. It didn’t change things: I suspect it just added grist to their “The Boss is bonkers” mill :-)

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4 thoughts on “Snap, Crackle and Ouch!

  1. I don’t know if it will make you feel any better but I have been off with the flu (I’m sure death is more pleasant )…then Tim got it…and then…and this is the weird bit that makes me think our mutual families have been give the same script…he got a letter from HR for being ill 4 times in 12 months…a meeting and then decision followed up in a letter…

    I hear what you are saying about small people…they are bug magnets…and of course us adults have no immunity to these bugs as these are different bugs to the ones we all had when we were growing up…

    However I haven’t had a pattern published and go viral…and hopefully your cars water pump hasn’t broken…so lets celebrate the differences as some of them are positives !

  2. Congratulations on the viral hearts border and commiserations on the viral bugs….as for workplace absence, it is only ever the conscientious that are hauled up. The hangover lot are never hauled up.

    My best moment ever was my boss visting me in hospital and sheepishly apologising. When eldest was 2. I had been in a lot of pain for 2 weeks and had 1 day off (because I had 2yo didn’t want people thinking I was skiving, got the job when she was just 1), she bawled at me for not answering the phone as I was doubled over having a spasm. I ended up in hospital that night and had an emergency op for ectopic pregnancy (grumbling appendix had been suspected but not that).

    I then got reported for being at the pub the Friday night before I went back to work 5 weeks later (should have been 6 weeks and I had worked from home too even though I was signed off), my first evening out in 3 months. I was not playing skittles with friends and husband. 20 years later I am still so angry about it…I was made redundant 2 weeks before second one was born a year later (thankfully no lasting damage from ectopic) I got no redundancy as I had been there 20 months and then it was 24 months to keep your job if pregnant. All other redundancies got payment if they had been there 6 months, but because it was discretionary they didn’t have to give me any. I had saved the company over £100000 on their catalogue production, they were in on time too (educational publisher so critical for selling books into school at right time of year) and I did that despite having 6 weeks off ill. The guy that was regularly off from hangovers (he boasted) got the redundancy and they took him back 6 months later. I am still very very upset and bitter.

    So love to you all!

    Fiona x

    • I’m not surprised that you were so upset and bitter about it! But having seen that kind of thing go on at different workplaces, I suspect something along the lines of Old Boys Network and Face-Fitting have something to do with it…

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