No parent likes when their child gets sick. Not only do we worry about how the child is feeling but also how seriously sick they are or might become; if/when the other children will get the illness; what medicine may help them feel better, faster and…. how long the entire dynamic of the household will be thrown off. By now I’ve learned that one of my children has an odd symptom associated with every sickness he seems to acquire….extreme drama. His theatrics have a way of throwing our family off course.
This past week I dealt with my younger son having a fever, cough, sore throat, and general malaise. He, I must say, is generally a trooper and this time was no different. He knows when he doesn’t feel good that his body is telling him to rest. He stays in bed a few days, with very little complaining and very little requests. He’s a very easy to please patient….he pretty much just asks us to shut the door and let him sleep.
By the end of the week my sick son was back to his old “piratey” self, dressing up as a bucaneer ready to sail the seven seas. It was when my older son got off the bus that I knew we were about to embark on another medical misadventure. Maybe it was the dragging of his bag, the forlorn look on his face, his droopy eyes or the, “you need to feel sorry for me because I’m not feeling well,” gaze that alerted me that the drama in our infirmary was about to begin.
Now, I feel for my children when they hurt…every parent does, but I’ve got to tell you that the whining and theatrics that go along with the illness or pain could win this kid an academy award. He woke up the other night with the croup and stridor (labored breathing). While standing in a steamy bathroom, still all worked-up, he says – or should I say – sings — “am I going to diiiieeeee……..I can’t breathe, why is this happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeee OOOHHHHHHHH?” Don’t get me wrong, I understand how frightening it must be for a kid to feel like he can’t breathe and I truly sympathized with him – even his question was legitimate….to him I’m sure it did feel like he really couldn’t breathe. It’s the way he sings his words and the jog in place that he does that adds the drama to the event.
I reassured my son that he was going to be fine. I explained what was happening to him and the reason why he felt like he couldn’t breathe. I thought he seemed a little more calmed down. Then he vibrates an operatic voice, “what do you know about this anyway?” Again, very dramatic. I explained that the fact that his lips and fingernails weren’t blue was a good sign that he would be alright and that he would get through this….he wouldn’t die. After the ‘steam room’ we bundled up (it was very cold) and headed outside. This may sound barbaric but there is a medical explanation for it. Apparently the cold air helps the inflammation in the airways go down so it becomes easier to breathe (it only has to be for a few minutes and it does seem to work). Once again my son sings his words to me, through tears, “what are you trying to do – kill me?” At this point I had had enough of the theatrics and knew it was best for both he and I to call it a night.
The next few days my husband and I become my son’s servants who he apparently beckons by clapping his hands. He writes on a notepad, in dramatic fashion, that he can’t talk but needs a drink. Twenty minutes later I hear a clap…..I’m being summoned……………again. This time he points to the drink I had gotten him earlier, at the foot of his bed….two feet away from him. Half hour later….more clapping………….this time he requests a popsicle. Another twenty minutes goes by and more clapping…..he wants a blanket…..more clapping — he doesn’t want a blanket, etc. etc. etc.
See how the whole household is altered by the event of one sick child? I anxiously wait for the minute I see some spark of recovery that will allow my son to exit center stage and help us all to return to our normal life…..bringing this soap opera to an end.