As you type you are high in the sky somewhere between London and Moscow* and you are furious with your MiL.
This is because the Star is in hospital. In Moscow.
You are, of course, feeling somewhat guilty about this, which doubtless exacerbates your crossness.
You had been thoroughly enjoying your two weeks sans husband and child. You’ve cleaned the house to within an inch of its life, including shampooing the carpets, rearranging your kitchen cabinets, washing even the ceiling in the bathroom, dusting between and under all the technics and removing three bin bags of toys from the colourful plastic mountain that exists in the corner of your living room. Your work files are beautifully organised. You have eaten lasagna every day for a week. You have gone out and got completely and utterly plastered in the company of one old friend and spent an entire afternoon chatting lazily over coffee with another. You have spent another whole day shopping. You have read trashy novels. You have lounged around in bed all morning. You have read trashy novels whilst lounging around in bed all morning.
It hasn’t all been hedonistic self-indulgence, mind. You’ve been working too, hence the delay in your joining your family. But it is amazing how much spare time you have when your two part-time jobs are no longer vying for attention with your full-time job looking after a hyperactive two-year-old. And B.
And of course you have been looking forward to being reunited with your menfolk. And missing them. You spent a whole hour playing cars with the boy downstairs on the flimsiest of pretexts just the other day, just because the way he declaims ‘car!’ as though it is the only important word on the English language reminds you of your son.
But up until Saturday evening, you had felt barely a moment’s actual anxiety about the fact that you were separated by three and a half hours of airtime from your baby. He was, after all, in the company of his Babushka, who you secretly suspect of being rather better at looking after small children than you are.
Except, that is, when the small children are ill.
You have noted before how hysterical your MiL gets when the Star runs a temperature.
It is unfortunate, therefore, that the Star runs a very high temperature every time he gets more than a slight sniffle. Nevertheless, you were only vaguely concerned when B told you on the phone on Thursday that the Star was feeling a bit under the weather. Calpol exists in Russia. As did your husband, who seemed to have everything under control, is a demonstrably capable man in the general scheme of things, a thoroughly involved father and who has been trained in coping with the Star when ill by you. You could rely on him, you thought.
In a strategic error, however, your husband went out for a couple of hours on the Saturday leaving your MiL alone with your son.
And in those few hours, your MiL panicked, phoned an ambulance which, somewhat bemusedly you hear, whisked your son off to the children’s hospital on the other side of the capital.
Your husband, arriving home sharpish after a confusing phone call from his mother, found the door locked and no key or other useful information left with any of the neighbours. He had to scale the scaffolding that builders are using to renovate the building and break into the balcony in order to get inside. Whereupon he found no useful information left there either. He eventually tracked down the Star with a couple of phone calls to the Russian equivalent of the NHS.
No, your MiL did not take a mobile with her. To be fair, she’d given hers to B. Who doesn’t have one because a) you have to pay to get foreign mobiles unlocked in Russia and b) you have his as you had washed yours two weeks earlier.
This, of course, does not explain why the Star is still in hospital, two days later, with tonsillitis.
You are yourself unclear on this point, except that it seems to have something to do with the fact that he is having injections to counteract the overblown tonsils. Whether or not he can only finish this particular antibiotic course if they are injected is something you need to find out immediately. You have a horrible feeling that you, B and the Star may all be stuck in the hospital for a week, although the medical friend, who you tracked frantically down across cyberspace and numerous messages on various answering machines on Saturday evening ** did suggest that doctors will occasionally recommend admitting a small child to hospital for a relatively minor illness purely on the basis of the complete lack of ability to cope displayed by his caregivers. Clearly your MiL passed that test with flying colours and Russians, if you can be allowed to generalise horribly, tend to assume that men should not necessarily have much to do with children, so presumably B doesn’t count. Hopefully, once you arrive, you can present a competent female presence they can deliver your son to and all will be well.
Except that you do not know how you are going to spend the next month in the same small flat as your MiL.
Now you appreciate that it could be said that she is only the grandmother and it is your and your husband’s responsibility to do the more extreme aspects of childrearing. You would sourly note that you are expected to treat her as a member of the nuclear rather than extended family in pretty much every other way. It’s a Russian thing, you are told. Babushkas are more involved than their British counterparts. Still, you and B failed to control the situation and that has landed the Star in hospital. Hence the guilt.
Nevertheless, it is an unfortunate truth that with minor and common childhood illnesses, or not so minor for that matter, the adults just have to stand there and watch, relatively powerless, whilst the apple of their eye suffers. There isn’t anything anyone can do about that. Well, OK, calpol, antibiotics and so on. But basically the illness is going to run its course regardless and a hospital can do nothing for tonsillitis except provide a sugar pill of the illusion of medical assistance… for the adult. It does nothing for the child except remove him from his familiar surroundings and cut him off from the TV at a time when he could really do with them.
So you find it really unforgivable, that left in charge of your son, your MiL indulged herself, put her needs over your son’s best interests.
Yes, you are indeed furious with your MiL.
*Or not. What I did on my holidays part 1.
**And whom you have yet to thank sufficiently. A big round of thanks to him for soothing this mother’s fevered brow. Huge.