It's not been the best few weeks if I'm honest. The whole area where we live has been enjoying a rampant spate of chicken pox, so it was only a matter of time.
When Ru got the first few pimples and I broke the news, she seemed delighted (probably because we know a girl a WHOLE year older than Ru who'd had it too, so it seemed like quite an achievement).
"YAY! Look, Daddy! I've got chicken spots!"
"Chicken pox," I corrected her.
"Yes! Chicken spots!"
I tried again: "Chicken pox."
She sighed, like I was a bit dim (I get this a lot from my children).
"Yessss," Ru said impatiently. "Chicken spots."
Ruby glowered at me and then said it v e r y slowly. "Chicken's POTS."
I gave up.
By the end of the first day, Ru was pretty much covered, but she really needed a bath and I thought it was better to get her clean before her spots got sore.
"Oh, no Mummy." Ruby said. She looked so serious. "I can't have bath, I'll get my Chicken's pots wet."
"Sweetie, it doesn't matter if they get wet," I reassured her. But she was having none of it.
"I can't get my Chicken's pots wet, Mummy, because they are my friends."
Two days later, Ruby's spots were most certainly not her friends. In fact, I could probably say with some confidence that she hated their guts. She'd have had them arrested if it had been possible. And she'd have ripped up their teddies.
While Ruby endured three consecutive days of very sore skin and generally feeling rubbish (while not allowing me to apply anything sensible, like calamine, because it was cold), Ava looked on with fascination and an increasing sense of pride.
"I'm very lucky, aren't I, Mummy," she said to me over and over again. "I haven't caught it, have I?!"
I didn't really have the heart to tell Ava that chicken pox in this country is like a rite of passage for children (and their parents).
Perhaps it was mean of me to not warn her, but I think it was downright rude of her to not bother getting her first spot until two weeks later, when Ruby's were finally starting to go. I got the call from school, telling me Ava's whole chest and tummy were littered with pimples. A very sprightly Ruby and I went to pick her up.
When we got home, Ava did not have a happy face.
"I don't want to be poorly, Mummy," she whined.
"No, I know. It's not nice having..." I began, but Ruby interrupted me.
"...You got chicken's pots!" Ruby told Ava, like the little expert she now was.
Ava tutted. "It's NOT chicken's POTS, Ruby!" she sighed. "Is it Mummy?"
"No," I said. "It's chicken POX."
"See?!" Ava said to Ru. "Chicken POPS."
No, it's not been the best couple of weeks, but at least the POX have provided me with a humorous topic of conversation.