Pulling Together


Tormenting a Child

On Wednesday my fiancée’s son was sent home from school. The school said he had a high temperature. She had measured his temperature before sending him in the morning and measured it again on his return home and both were normal, but that had not stopped them sending him home. So, he had to be booked in for a CoViD test, because he could not return to school without one. I received a call asking me if I could go with her to help, and headed over to her house. She looked on line and managed to book a test that afternoon at 3:30 pm at a park on the East side of Bristol.

We had lunch, packed a bag with changes of nappies and snack and drink supplies, and decided to set off early, since the boy was unhappy about being removed from school and becoming restless. We could always take him for a walk in the park while waiting and it was beautiful weather for getting out and about.

We arrived just around 2. The Beloved explained to the gatekeeper that we were early and, to our surprise, we were ushered straight in. We put the boy in his wheelchair and the Beloved wheeled him through the barriers into the tent where the test was to take place. I waited outside.

I have always imagined that on turning up at a CoViD testing station one would be greeted by a nurse in full PPE who would explain and administer the test. My imagination was well out. Instead, another person, possibly a zero-hours worker on minimum wage, handed her a plastic bag containing the swab and test tube and invited her to get on with it. She called for my assistance. It was my job to hold the child's head still so he couldn't move while she pushed the swab up his nostrils until the little boy, who had no idea why we were doing this, screamed with the pain. It felt awful for me. I hate to think what he thought of us at that moment.

We apologised to him profusely, and then pushed the swab up his other nostril. I am reminded of those infamous Milgram electric-shock experiments of the early 1960s. How could we do this to a child simply because the government and his school require it?

The test came back negative today.

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