An Afternoon Convalescing

I arrived at school at 11:45, ready for Al’s midday meal.

My five-year-old nephew would trail in with all the other pint-size Reception Class to the big resounding school hall, grey school trousers bagging like Charlie Chaplin, and unzip his packed lunch box, and munch his lunch.

But first, he needed a puff. He was a bit wheezy: and Al uses his asthma inhaler a little at times like these.

In the UK, Mums and aunts do that stuff, not school staff. So I arrived for the solemn Puff Administration Ceremony, and asked the school secretary to have Al brought to its altar.

Al beamed beatifically when he saw me. Auntie Kate: how capital. And in the middle of a school day, as well. Things were looking up.

I brandished the inhaler and prepared for the ritual: but Al’s PA was standing nearby and she clearly had an agenda.

“He’s not been totally well this morning,” she opened, in a capsule British understatement.

I eyed her warily. Not well, as in he’s had a runny nose? Or, not well as in, on his last legs?

It was the latter.

“He could do,” she finished musingly, gazing purposefully into the distance,”with going home, really.”

I took a last longing glance at my plans for a haircut. Today Al would need a convalescent afternoon.

I picked up his coat.

But Al did not want to put his coat on.

He made his feelings clear: at first, vocally; and then, by squirming out of every sleeve I managed to slip onto his arm. It was like trying to dress an eel in a dinner-jacket.

But I had a master plan.

“Well, if you don’t wear your coat,” I informed Al, “we won’t be able to go and tuck up in Auntie Kate’s big bed and watch films and play with Bond the kitten.”

The coat unaccountably materialised on Al. It was a miracle. He summoned his most pathetic voice, suffused with pathos.

“Will you carry me?”

I sighed. “Of course I will carry you.” I balanced book bag and packed lunch box somewhere I do not now recall, picked a wheezy tired little bundle up, and strode out of school and down the road.

His packed lunch was eaten at the table. If Al eats lunch anywhere else, it ends up everywhere else. Al believes passionately that lunch is not just sustenance, but entertainment and decoration. It is best, even on poorly days, to let the table take the brunt of his experimentation.

And then we padded upstairs to the fresh delphty blue-and white duvet next to the television. And lo, the crazy-eyed kitten materialised.

Al loves Clive Bond, and Clive Bond loves Al. They share the same philosophy on playing. It should be boisterous, it should impinge on its surroundings, it should be anarchic.

But today Al’s job was to lie down and be still.

I was not hopeful about this with Bond around. The small black kitten is already an over exuberant influence. And Al’s ability to squirm and bounce is virtually infinite.

But my nephew lay back with his head on the pillow and watched Bee Movie, and Bond crept onto his lap, to the little boy’s endless delight. And the two of them convalesced together.

And so, with the help of a box of cars, some small plastic power rangers and a black kitten, we managed to effect a serviceable convalescence. Al actually stayed in bed, a feat virtually unknown for him, and passed the time in wheezy, bleary contentment.

I think he will be ready for school again tomorrow.

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58 thoughts on “An Afternoon Convalescing

    1. Thank you, Jamie 🙂 The photo is a rare iPhone one – I usually use my big camera – but it was impossible to get up and get it without disturbing the assembled party…

  1. I had asthma when I was young, so can totally relate to this. I even had a little tear in my eye while reading. Sometimes animals know when they need to just be there for you. I am sure that Bond felt that it was a time to be quiet and comforting and helped to calm Al.

  2. Bummer for your nephew. You know he didn’t feel well if he was willing to lie still with Bond. And I’m sure your hair looks marvelous, as well as creating a day that’ll live in the heart for a long time.

    1. Thank you: it resembles a haystack, if you can envisage such a thing.And I had a nightmare fringe trim about a week ago. Erk. But hey, it has waited all this time, it can wait a bit longer.

  3. Very comforting tale on a dark, rainy morning. I’m thinking of buying a kitten and going back to bed to watch TV. And then I think of those nightmare presenters asking me to ring in with the answer to a moronic………..

      1. There’s something particularly fine and generous about you as a sister, a doting Aunt … and do I detect, perhaps, a touch of nostalgia for the days of having a preschooler around? Bless you Aunty Kate 🙂

    1. Sunshine! How lovely to hear from you! I always wanted to be people’s commute read. I even thought about giving away fliers at railway stations….and now I have my wish 🙂 Hope the job is going well!

  4. “…we won’t be able to go and tuck up in Auntie Kate’s big bed and watch films and play with Bond the kitten.”

    I never fell for these adult bribery attempts. Well actually I had little chance to refuse. It was “You WILL do this or else.”

  5. Poor Big Al, good thing he has such a nice Auntie Kate, Lovely story and I could just see Clive Bond bouncing onto the bed and then slowly assessing the situation and meekly complying with Al’s need for a quiet companion.

  6. Dear Kate, Al is so dear–a perfect example of what a little boy can be at their best. And you are a delightful aunt. And Bond? well, he’s a kitten who recognizes a kindred spirit when he plays with one. Clearly the two of them have “bond”ed–my pun for the day. Asthma can be so tiring so I’m glad that Al truly rested with his best buddy. Peace.

  7. Been feeling a bit like crap myself over here. If I were not so deathly allergic to the kitties, I’d so welcome a visit with Bond. I hope that Big Al is back to feeling like his regular rough and ready self.

  8. I can’t say much more than has been said. We all love this little guy! And hate to think of him unwell, but what a fine day he had resting. And that CB could administer some TLC along the way to a typically wriggly little boy, makes a perfect match. Sophia, same age and Kindergarten, was home with a fever yesterday, too. Early in the school year…let the germ swapping begin! 😦 Glad you were there for his rescue. D

  9. How wonderful that Clive joined in the slightly-less-exhuberant spirit of the occasion. Glad that Al has bounced back after his short convalescence.

    Now . . . about that haystack. 😉

  10. Poor Al. Must be so frustrating for a kid to have asthma, it ruins all the fun things like playing boisterously, quality time with pets, etc. But I’m glad Al and Clive Bond had a good day and that all went well!

  11. And on that note (and I disregard the fact that you British are loathe to say anything other than “very well, thanks” even when the world is imploding!), how are you doing, Kate?

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