There is something vaguely ironic about the recent discovery that Kurt is allergic to grass. After years of watching his eyes stream and his chest heave at certain times of the year – symptoms I originally put down to Karma for abusing his body, (because I’m compassionate like that), and the sad reality that none of the five fruit and vegetables make up Aldi’s Chocolate Pillows breakfast cereal – it turns out that the culprit is hay fever.
Those of you that have kids on the Spectrum might not know that it makes them much more susceptible to allergies for some reason.
Inevitably, the old man passed has down the man-flu gene to our son, but what not even I realized until today, is just how difficult it is to persuade a Millennial that what they have is a just a case of the common cold, which doesn’t entitle them to a sick day.
When you come from a one-parent family background that relies on that one salary to put food on the table, a day off work is not really an option. You dose yourself up, shove a loo roll in your handbag, and you muddle through. That is what we were taught in the UK, where an inherent toughness is vital to survive the possibility of invasion at any time or a colder summer than winter. The cold is an accepted part of life over there, almost a badge of honor, the natural order of things – a bit like how trains stop running when it snows.
If everyone took a day off each time they had a sniffle, unemployment levels would skyrocket and the country would face a much greater national disaster than Brexit.
Australians are somewhat less resilient, I’ve discovered. While we Brits know that if you have the flu, you can’t actually get out of bed without losing control of your bodily functions and scaring people away, Aussies turn up to work, sneeze in your face and use “the flu” as an excuse.
Now, I’m not going to tell my son to ‘man the fuck up’, because I believe that sort of sexist comment encourages male toxicity and misandry, however, I do believe that I may need to introduce my children to my mother’s snot level guide, the way she distinguished how sick we really were as kids.
You see, back in the day, before we had modern gadgets such as thermometers, Neurofen and Dr Google, our mums decided if we had a temperature, usually by feeling our foreheads or by watching how much we ate. Another means – and one that my Mum was quite partial to for sniffing out the hypochondriac, was the snot test – and I can still remember those terrifying moments during her lengthy examination of my snotty tissue that I knew would determine my fate.
If the snot was at the clear end of the scale, we were fine; yellow and stringy – leaning towards green – it was a cold; I imagine that red snot would have made my mother’s brow crease with… could that be worry? Fortunately, one ever had red snot from memory, because that might have involved a trip to the doctor and woe betides anyone who was sick enough to see the doctor.