This week my daughter contracted a nasty case of conjunctivitis. She woke up crying, “My eyes! My eyes!” Her eyelids glued together with a crust of luminous mucus. Once bathed with cotton wool, she squinted out of red, swollen sockets which oozed with green gunk.
It was horrible to see her in pain. But even more agonising was trying to help her get better.
The cure on offer was eye drops, which had to be administered every two hours to her already sore and tender eyes.
She didn’t want her face to be touched, even before she learned that her eyes were about to be filled with a pungent, stinging liquid.
She put her hands in front of her face and insisted, “I’m hiding”. Then she ran away, forcing me to chase her into a corner and grasp her chin while I aimed the drops into her eyes.
Even bribes of chocolate buttons were not considered a fair compensation for this torture. Over the next 48hours her protests grew stronger until eventually the only way to administer the treatment was to pin her down on the floor and forcibly drip it into her delicate little baby blues, which were already brimming with tears.
She didn’t want this cruel treatment. But, equally, I didn’t want to administer it.
Of course I wanted her to be better, but I hated myself for being the callous villain, repeatedly doling out such harsh punishment.
I wanted to throw the drops in the bin and declare, “I surrender!” Why must I be the enemy?
But as a parent I had to remain stoic and enforce my rule. Her health is my responsibility and I must answer my call of duty.
Thanks to the contagious nature of her condition we were ostracised from any social interaction, and remained trapped together between four walls. Slowly they began to close in on us as we played out our relentless game of chase every two hours, with the drops hanging over us every second in between. Drip, drip, drip.
At the end of day three in this torture chamber I am a broken woman. I have enlisted the assistance of a henchman to pin my victim into a submissive position while I carry out my heartless task.
The subject of this torment, on the other hand, remains defiant in the face of adversity. Despite the repeated persecution she has endured, she refuses to buckle. She is just as happy and loving as ever, beaming smiles out of those raw, red eyes. She still trusts that her captor is doing what is best.
Her faith in me is strong. And that is what keeps me going.