Sorry I haven’t written any posts for so long. I’ve been too busy mopping up puke.
My little boy has vomited almost every day for the last three months. The house smells like a bleach factory, and I am buying new mops from the local hardware store so often that the cashier there thinks I fancy him, and am just buying the mops as an excuse to hang out.
Lately, he has started hiding behind the screwdriver display when I show up, and making his mum serve me.
I am trying to be calm about the situation although internally it is worrying me. The Sicilians are skilled at good at making a song and dance about illness – watch the opera La Traviata if you don’t believe me – so perhaps I should take notes?
My neighbour (Mrs. Sterile, in case anyone’s keeping track of the locals in this blog) made more fuss when her son banged his head and got a bruise on it than any cardiac patient I saw in the hospital in England having heart surgery.
Her son had been riding his tricycle, which tipped over sideways and made him bump his head on the ground. She fainted immediately, then came round and hyperventilated. Her son cried loudly, largely because he was scared by what his mother was doing, which meant he MUST be taken to hospital. The amount of hand-waving and Sicilian cries of desperation exceeded anything I had ever witnessed before. She was even slapping her hands against her forehead the way Arabs do at funerals.
All this over a bruise about one inch in diameter.
My husband and I were recruited as chauffeurs, since she and her husband were both too hysterical to drive. She did actually coerce my husband to drive up the hard shoulder of the motorway for about a quarter of a mile when we encountered a bit of a traffic jam, by throttling him from behind and pulling out some handfuls of his hair. I think he could have taken the throttling but it was the hair-pulling that convinced him, as he really doesn’t have any surplus to spare.
At the hospital, she fainted again. Once she had been administered to, she screamed and grabbed several doctors by the lapels of their white coats, getting dragged along the corridor since she refused to let go of them, asking them in floods of tears if there was any hope her son would pull through without major brain damage. Then she insisted they put him on a drip for 2 hours – which they did purely because she was disrupting the whole ER department and it was the only way to shut her up. Whilst this was happening, she got out some rosary beads and her husband and she prayed together, except that she couldn’t pray effectively because she was weeping so much. Eventually the hospital found a couple of strong porters to kick her whole family out.
The best part was that, a couple of weeks later, she arranged a special thanksgiving mass to honour Saint Rosalia of Palermo for rescuing her son from the jaws of death. She invited 350 of her closest relatives.
Well, last week she spotted be fetching my son home from school early. I have done that every day he’s been to school, since Christmas. I leave him there and then, sooner or later, the school phones me saying he has vomited, and will I come and get him please?
So, what did Mrs. Sterile say to me that day?
“Oh there’s nothing wrong with him! Look at how big and tall he is. He’s just fooled you into believing he’s ill, because he doesn’t want to go to school.”
His history teacher said roughly the same thing two weeks ago. She thinks he’s mastered the art of hurling at will, just so he can go home early when he’s bored with lessons.
I confided in her that I was worried in case he had something serious.
“Oh, I know just how you feel,” she said, adding reassurances that my son clearly had nothing and she knew this, being the mother of offspring with a REAL serious medical crisis. She then went on to tell me about when her daughter had a “lazy eye”, and had to do eye exercises for a year to correct it.
“It was awful. They told me she might have to wear glasses for the rest of her life,” the devastated woman concluded.
“That must have been terrible for you I said,” pushing my spectacles back up my nose slowly and deliberately. “You must be such a strong person to have got through it.”
Anyway, I’m signing off now.
I have to go down to the hardware store and take a really good, hard look at the screwdriver display.