Family: Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS''JANET CHRISTIE ,  MAGAZINE WRITER
PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS''JANET CHRISTIE , MAGAZINE WRITER
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Keep calm and carry on focussing on the little things

The paramedics are in Youngest’s bedroom, about to load her into the ambulance and all I have to do is throw some essentials in a bag, so why am I stressing over a choice of pyjamas?

“Mother, come on,” she manages to say. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing, coming.” What’s wrong with me? I always come over weird on the A&E run.

Now we’re on the road and the professionals are doing their thing, measuring and assessing, Youngest is being a model patient despite the spreading rash and raging temperature, and I’m sitting there wondering about the paramedic’s hair. Did she do that magenta shade herself or was it in a salon?

I think it’s my way of coping in a crisis – focus on something unimportant to stave off panic.

It was the same when Eldest passed out on the kitchen floor. With Middle riding shotgun next to the driver so he could pester him about the siren – “The roads are clear son, we don’t need it” – Eldest came up with a Plan B for a wailing soundtrack.

“Sing me that song mum.”

What? I sound like a frog in a tin bucket. But refusing a semi-conscious child (OK adult) in an ambulance on the way to A&E is not a good look.

“Course. Which one?”

“The one about the pyramids.”

Great, Patsy Cline, with her beautiful contralto. No-one other than small children who love me very much should hear me sing You Belong to Me, and certainly not a paramedic, who it emerged last time Eldest Child looped back from unconsciousness and they bonded over music, is a trained opera singer.

So I talk-sing it very quietly in his ear and he’s happy enough, but I’ve felt guilty about it ever since.

Just as weird was when Middle Child was concussed after a footie headclash and kept insisting in A&E that the prime minister was Gordon Blair Churchill, and I kept backing him up. Well, it sounded right at the time.

Later, when Youngest’s glandular fever has been confirmed, the rash caused by an antibiotic she shouldn’t have had, and we’re waiting outside A&E for a taxi, she leans on my shoulder and says, “She had great hair didn’t she?”

“Did she?” I say. “Didn’t notice. Er, who?”

“Right. I love you mum.”