A couple of weeks ago, we took Marley out to get chickenpox.

Sound harsh?

Well, yes, I suppose it is a bit….but we had actually been due to visit his chickenpox-ridden cousin anyway, even before we found out he was right in the middle of the most contagious phase.

We basically came to the conclusion that Marley – now that he is 2 and a half – is at as good an age as any to get the virus, so we took our chances.

It began about two weeks after that visit for Marley. And he was fine for the first couple of days; in good spirits and as happy as usual, no sign at all there was anything wrong except for a couple of little spots.

Monday and Tuesday were much the same, a few more spots maybe, but he was still pretty content and although he wasn’t allowed to go in to nursery he was more-or-less the same us usual.

But then there was Wednesday….

Marley was up most of the night – so WE were up most of the night.

We dabbed at his pox with calamine lotion regularly, we gave him anti-histamine to try and help with the itchiness. (One funny Marley Moment was when he made a funny face after having his medicine, so my wife asked him if he liked it and he replied: “it’s not the best!”)

We also plied him with about as much Calpol as it’s legal to give a toddler, but still he was boiling hot.

He was grumpy as hell because he was so incredibly itchy, rolling around like a dog to try and itch the pox on his back.

Basically, all night long, he was just miserable.

So in the morning, I escaped to go to work (I had a webinar I had to run and couldn’t get out of it – I promise!) but I was getting regular WhatsApp updates from home.

“He’s really uncomfortable and sad.”

“He’s miserable.”

“He didn’t eat breakfast and then he wanted porridge for lunch….and then he didn’t eat it.”

And when I got home, he was so fed up with it that he ended up just slumped over the coffee table with his head in his hands, wailing: “I’VE GOT CHICKEN POX!!

And still he itched….

We tried to find other reliefs for him. We got some gel that’s supposed to help, and we even gave him an oat bath – the aftermath of which reminded me of the end of an especially heavy night on the sauce….

Ultimately, it’s really hard to know what works and what doesn’t for chickenpox. Thankfully, by the time Thursday morning came round he had started to feel a little bit better.

The itching had relented. The pox went from being little red itchy things to larger crusty scabby ones (sorry for that little detail).

And after another oat bath – strained oats this time, after advice from friends on how to avoid a pukey-looking bath – he slowly got back to his normal self.

Chickenpox – check!

Another milestone reached for Marley….time to dance on the table.

A worrying night

A couple of weeks ago, we had the biggest scare of our two years so far with Marley when we had to call an ambulance for him (#spoileralert – he’s totally fine now, it was an ear infection that cleared up within a week thanks to a short course of antibiotics) 

So the fact that he got better so quickly makes me feel not quite as bad talking about the fact that, earlier that same night, we had been out for a STUNNING meal at the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce in Wandsworth Common (we don’t often get to go Michelin starred…) for my wife’s birthday. 

More on that later, but let’s focus on Marley and the ambulance first. 

We had left him at home with a babysitter who we know from his nursery. She is fantastic, and even though we mentioned to her beforehand that he didn’t appear to be on top form, she’s looked after him enough times for us to be totally confident she’d keep a close eye on him. 

And when we returned home, things were fine. Marley was in bed and hadn’t stirred, so we sent the babysitter off in a taxi and got ready to turn in ourselves. It was only when my wife decided to check up on him that we realised he was actually awake and feeling a little warmer than usual. 

Sure enough his temperature was high, just over 38C. So we gave him a dose of Calpol and tried to get him back to sleep*. (I didn’t sample the Calpol on this occasion). 

*Apparently, there is now a documentary on iPlayer about the increasing amount of Calpol parents are giving their kids, so I will be giving that a watch this week.

We kept him on our bed for a while, and as time ticked by we noticed his temperature wasn’t going down as it normally would after a dose, and if anything it was sneaking upwards. 39C…..40C…..41C! This got us really worried. 

I was initially only going to call the NHS 111 service for advice, but the combination of his shivering and feeling a little floppy, plus the way he was repeating the words “I’m tired” over and over created a slight sense of panic and I decided to call for an ambulance instead. 

It arrived within ten minutes, they checked him over and took us all in to A&E at St George’s Hospital. This was just after midnight, and in order to save you from a lot of details I will just say that around nine hours later (and after excellent care from everyone at the Hospital) we could take him home.

The main reason I wanted to write about this was because that evening I experienced the moment that, I think, a lot of people (especially parents) probably feel when they call 999 and are not 100% sure whether it’s really an emergency or not. 

There were several contributing factors for us, and I actually asked the ambulance medics at the time whether they thought we were over-reacting and they re-assured us that we weren’t. I certainly felt we did the right thing for him. 

 poor little man

His temperature took such a long time to go down at the hospital that at one stage there was even the mention of the possibility of sepsis, which is another whole level of terrifying. Thankfully, his infection didn’t get too bad and cleared up within a week. 

And on the positive side, Marley was delighted about getting to ride in a “nee-naw”. 

I’m still half hoping that the whole experience might mean we get a chance to go back and enjoy Chez Bruce all over again. 


Little people have to learn to be incredibly adaptable. 

Marley’s environment is an ever-changing one, his surroundings constantly shifting from place to place; from home to nursery, from supermarkets to friend’s houses, and from shops to cafes, pubs, buses, trains and all the rest. 

It’s difficult enough for us adults (“adults”) to adjust to those kind of changes, but at least we are usually in control of what we do and where we go – little Marley has absolutely no say over any of it. But nevertheless, most of the time he actually adjusts superbly. 

He takes in his surroundings, he absorbs all of what is going on around him and he very seldom complains about any of it. 

Unless he’s hungry or tired, of course.

But there are also other exceptions. 

He doesn’t take too kindly to seeing his Mummy or Daddy hugging anyone other than him, for example. Even if we are hugging each other! It’s usually cut off by a stern “NOOOOO” coming from his direction. 

And coupled with that frown. 

He does it with a smirk some of the time, especially when it’s only Mummy and Daddy hugging, so we know it’s not really upsetting him. But he does seem to find it difficult to handle affection being channeled in any other direction other than towards him.

When he started out at nursery, he was one of the youngest ones there. In recent months, he has become one of the more senior figures in his group, apparently often taking a leading role in whatever is going on and stamping his authority on it, which is lovely to hear. 

But one of the nursery leaders told us this week that whenever her own children visit the nursery, Marley has a bit of a hard time accepting seeing her with them and showing them affection. So much so, in fact, that her 8 year old daughter this week suggested wearing a disguise the next time she visits, to avoid Marley getting upset! 

I’m sure he’ll grow out of it soon – but in the meantime I wouldn’t advise hugging me in front of him!