When I dropped Em off at school yesterday, I told the women what I tell them every morning. “If he’s sick or seems sad, tired or cranky, call me. He had a rough night last night and I’d hate for him to be in pain or cause problems for you all.”
They nodded in agreement but then one of them politely said, “Well, I think we’re going to try and keep him all day today if that’s OK. It’s been weeks since he’s been in school for an entire day and he’s missed so many as well! We miss him.”
It’s true. My kid has been in and out of school for almost two months. (Money well spent!) If I do send him to school, I usually get a phone call (or I call) letting me know he’s not feeling well and that it might be wise to come get him. I don’t even question it. I’m there in a heartbeat. But I’m left wondering: what do parents with full time jobs do in this situation? Does their employer get annoyed with them for having to leave to tend to their sick kids? Do they hire on-call nannies for this very reason? Seriously, what happens? Because all toddlers get sick and most schools won’t allow them to stay if they have a fever above 100 and that’s pretty damn common! (Perhaps a topic for another day.)
Anyway, something occurred to me yesterday, clearly so: I’m the mother of The Sick Kid. My son just can’t shake the congestion or cold. His colds move up into his ear canals and Toby and I spend nights on end listening to him scream. We spend days switching between doses of Motrin and Tylenol. We have gone through two rounds of antibiotics which work but then a week after he’s finished, BAM! the mucous builds up and the screams begin.
I don’t want to drone on and on about my ear problems. (If you’re curious, read this post.) But I will say that the moment he was born I began asking doctors, nurses (and whomever would listen to me) to have a closer look at his ears. They all reassured me that ear problems aren’t genetic. But I wondered, How about head shape? How about the size of the ear canal? How about a series of tubes? Could these things be genetic? He did, after all, inherit my eyes, my curly hair and his father’s everything else. But ears are somehow one of a kind? Like fingerprints?
We visited the pediatrician on Monday for the third time in just over a month. And she finally listened to me regarding my ear history. I told her that my hearing has been destroyed due to chronic ear infections. I told her my eustachian tubes never quite did their job properly. I told her I had tubes twice. I told her that the holes never healed. (To this day, I haven’t ever been swimming without earplugs.) I told her my pillows were often stained from ear fluid. I told her about my nephew (who has similar problems).
She listened and stopped suggesting that genetics are an innocent bystander. And I’m breathing a little easier now because that means we’ll get to see an ENT sooner rather than later. It also means that someone finally believes me. And I do hope that this means we can finally put an end to his pain.
I don’t want to be the mother of The Sick Kid. Besides, he’s far too cute to keep inside all the time.