I was not at my best. The youngest had croup the night previously, and had an adrenalin nebuliser administered in our driveway by the ambulance crew, who then whisked us off for a couple of hours' medical observation. These things always happen when you are exhausted, as I was having taken my eldest up our local volcanic island the day previousy. So the next morning, when I saw two smiley ladies arrive unexpectedly on my doorstep, I decided that I was in no mood to deal with Jehovah's Witnesses. I am fed up, I decided, of random people butting into my life. I am going to be grumpy today.
"I only see people with an appointment," I said firmly, as I opened the door. They looked a bit blank. "But we do have an appointment." "Do you?" "We're from the Ministry." "Ohhh," (cringe) "ah, yes, I remember now, do come in." Oh, I remember all right. The appointment I never got around to writing down in my calendar because something else happened. Along with the other important stuff I forget. Like having a life, and not running out of tea.
They come into the chaos that is a house with an exhausted mother and three pyjama-wearing children who have just finished breakfast. They tread gingerly over the cornflakes scattering the floor and try to ignore the blaring telly - Nick Junior, which is the only channel my middle son will tolerate. We spend an uncomfortable hour running through my middle son's needs. They are lovely, and I feel guilty for being so rude initially to them. And then, as they leave, the Continence Nurse arrives. Reminded of my good manners, I greet her warmly like an old friend, and then am taken aback when she makes repeated judgemental remarks about my son's failure to potty-train. (Why exactly did she think he had been referred?) When I asked about the maximum number of allowable nappies she made dark comments about spare nappies ending up on the local auction website Trade Me. Should've been angrier, I thought ruefully. All that wasted niceness.
I've been quiet online this week: mainly because it is the Easter holidays and all my energy is taken up with child-wrangling. I love the school holidays, I adore the sense of being at home with my boys just arranging things that they will enjoy, with no pressure from school or clubs: just time. I could get quite theological about the joy of empty space and time that is our holidays, I wish they were double the length. No, seriously, I do. But let's face it the holidays are also like being put into a wind tunnel and told to keep still. I am, just about, avoiding being blown away by what we affectionately term the boys' Crazy, but there's not much energy left for blogging. All my energies are taken up with being positive and not losing my rag with the boys.
Especially as the youngest has started pulling his own hair out - sigh, needs to be watched and discouraged - the hyposensitivity again - and the middle one, well it looks as if he may be developing a bladder problem that explains why he isn't out of nappies and means that he may be there for some time. The doctor has referred him for assessment. It will, of course, all take time. Time in which I shall worry. But time in which I shall also be devoutly grateful that I have not pushed the potty-training - a child who has a genuine medical issue is very different from a child who isn't ready or can't understand, and I shall be grateful for the rest of my life that I didn't try to force the pace and humiliate or worry a child who was going through quite enough already. And I am furious, absolutely could-rip-their-heads-off furious, with the collection of health professionals with whom I have repeatedly shared my concerns about this issues, none of whom have picked up the really quite obvious signs that there could be a physical problem ther.
This anger is slightly embarrassing. One of the issues that I have been struggling with - and another reason that I haven't been blogging - is that I am so fed up of being so angry. Reading over my posts I have looked with dismay at the number of people who have really, really made me want to punch them, from random passers-by to lovely old ladies who say the wrong thing at a toddler group. I am short-tempered and crabby. Not very Christian and tolerant. This bladder problem gives me a whole new area with which to seethe with wrath at the professionals - because I have been telling doctors and health visitors and everyone that there is a problem for months, if not years, and no one has listened. And it could all actually be quite serious and I don't want to be doom and gloom about this because it probably isn't, but for goodness sake, people, what I was describing could be a possible damage-to-the-kidneys issue.
So anger can be useful. It can spur you on to do great things, argue the case for your child's needs in seemingly hopeless circumstances. In this case it was the anger at our Continence Nurse's condescension towards me - "What - he's not trained AT ALL? He's NEVER out of nappies? At nearly five?" that made me seethe, grumble inwardly, then determinedly start trawling the internet to find answers to the questions that no one else seemed to be asking. Then I found the key indicators that showed a child had an organic medical problem, and lo and behold, my son had all of them. Just like when I diagnosed his verbal dyspraxia online in half an hour, after a year of waiting for the health professionals to do their job.
I was going to write a post about how I had resolved to try to be less angry. But actually, since this happened, I have decided that I will not berate myself for being permanently grumpy with the world: I would obviously like to aspire to greater tolerance and forgiveness of the many people who I wish to shoot dead for saying stupid things about my children: but I will not worry too much that I don't FEEL loving, as long as I am not actually shooting anybody in the head. Because, at the end of the day, anger is a protective instinct, it is about wanting your children to be safe in the world. And if the anger at the Continence Nurse's condescension meant that I finally decided to stop waiting for the medical profession to sort out my son and started to do some reading myself, that has to be a good thing.
Indeed, her very surprise at his delay may in some ways have been quite helpful, since it brought home to me how very delayed he was. So her visit was quite useful really. Although I still think that if she was surprised to find me asking for nappies for a five-year-old she's in the wrong job. Maybe I got it wrong, and she wasn't actually there about the nappies at all: maybe she was indeed a Jehovah's Witness waiting for the right moment to breach the subject of God.