Thursday, 3 December 2009


Our eldest granddaughter, aka Speckly-Woo! celebrated her 3rd birthday today. Things got off to a good start with her having a CBeebies presenter offer birthday greetings whilst holding up our daughter's card-making handiwork for all to see. Obviously a proud moment for us, on two fronts.

Then came the news that the poor little soul was running a high temperature and not showing any sign of the good appetite she normally has.

When we arrived for her birthday tea, complete with great grandmother, Speckly-Woo! had been asleep on the settee for over an hour, pale and limp, having sent the electronic thermometer into a red light reading.

After ten minutes or so, she stirred to life and eventually sat up, cross legged and wearily surveying her birthday visitors. Then she rallied a little and had a stab at unwrapping gifts, with intermittent cuddles from mummy.

We recalled a time when our own daughter was about two years old. It was mid-winter and we were living in a small Cornish cottage, built around 1860, with no heating in the upstairs rooms. At two in the morning we entered our little girl's bedroom to find her burning up, switching her head from side to side, hair saturated, muttering deliriously. Mags comforted her while I telephoned our doctor (yes, you could still call your duty doctor at any time out of hours then). It seemed like an age, but eventually he answered the call at his house, somewhere in the remote wilds of Bodmin Moor.

He listened intently as I gabbled the symptoms and requested a home visit, before advising me to calm down. So, I calmed down and listened.

“Place a cold compress on her forehead and try to get her to take some fluids,” he said.

I listened for further instructions but none came. “But she's delirious,” I explained.

“Of course she's delirious,” he answered, “you'd probably be delirious if you were running a high temperature.” He refrained to comment on the fact that I sounded far from lucid in any case.

He went on, “If there's no change in a couple of hours, call me again and I'll be straight out to you.”

The following two hours seemed like an eternity but, as is often the case with children, the fever subsided almost as quickly as it came. We never did make that second call.

The fact is, there's nothing like a sick child for bringing on a sense of helplessness in us. We'd rather be ill ourselves than see the little ones suffering. But these moments have a positive, and that is the reminder, if ever we needed one, of how so very precious our children and grandchildren are. We love you Speckly-Woo! Happy Birthday and get well soon.

© 2009, copyright Martin T. Hodges


  1. Oh you are so right, there is nothing quite as frightening as a sick child. I hope she gets well soon - and she deserves a repeat birthday party when she is well again.

  2. That is so very precious. And what a lovely name - Speckly Woo! I adore that. I do hope Speckly Woo! gets well, and I wish her a belated Happy Birthday, too!


  3. Speckly-Woo? How sweet a pet name is this? It almost makes me cry. Happy Birthday to the wee one and hope she's feeling better very soon.

  4. Lovely post. I am almost, but not really, ashamed to confess how happy I was whenever my daughter had a cold and I would be a good Mum and give her syrup which knocked her out for a while. They are so much cuter when sleeping!

  5. My parents still talk of the time they found me much in the same state as your daughter on that Cornish night. They plopped me a cool bath and here I am years later, able to walk and talk and everything!!

    Please give Speckly-Woo my very best!!

  6. Hoping that she's all better in the morning and ready for another birthday tea.

    Where did the name come from? (I have a cat, one of whose nicknames is Piddly Woo -- and I'm not sure how that name came about.)

  7. Speckly Woo must have another birthday. If the Queen can have two, we all can.
    Lovely post, Martin.

  8. What a wonderful crowd you all are. I've passed on all your good wishes to Speckly-Woo! via mum, who also says thanks.

    This morning, there was no sign of a fever and a second party has been scheduled.

  9. I had to come bacak nd say that the name "Speckly-Woo!" has been with me, making me smile since I read this post. Warm and fuzzy.
    My girl was "Ickythwump!" I wonder if she remembers still?

  10. English Rider

    How strange that your girl was Ickythwump. Speckly-Woo's identical twin sisters are Immy and Icky!

  11. A few years ago, my oldest granddaughter came down with a similar ailment on the day we all had tickets to the Nutcracker! I'm ashamed to say that we bundled her up and went anyway. She drowsed a bit and woke up for the big scenes, and our tickets didn't go to waste. But we probably did spread her germs about!

  12. Susan

    Sometimes it's a tough one to call isn't it? Children can show almost supernatural powers of recovery.....usually, just after arrangements have been cancelled!


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