Saturday, March 9, 2013

Curious George and Tummy Aches

I don’t know the last time you read Curious George, but he has become one of our morning rituals.  In particular,  I think I've read Curious George Goes to the Hospital  about fifty times over the last few weeks.  To bring you up to speed, George eats a puzzle piece that he mistakes for candy and has to go to the hospital.  His belly really hurts.  Which is why when Morgan said her tummy hurt when we sat down for breakfast a week ago, I couldn't help being a little dubious. 

This went on for several mornings.  I pressed her stomach, no flinching or other indicators of pain.  She continued to play like normal.  Morgan is boo-boo sensitive; she loves to find and care for her own or anyone else’s boo boos.   So I tried to be like Switzerland.   Although, each time she made a declaration of “mama my tummy hurt”  I cringed.  She seemed fine.  She was even eating fine.   Of course this filled me with its own anxiety:  What if she was one of those kids whose anxiety expressed itself in belly aches?  Was she allergic to milk?  What if it was one of those low grade things that’s an indicator of something really wrong.

And then it happened.  I was getting dressed for work, almost ready to walk out the door and she started spewing.  You can imagine the scene:  vomit all over her, me, the floor. All you can really do is hug and clean and hug some more.  She felt immediately better.  I left her with her dad and went to work.  I came home at lunch for snuggles, and she was burning with a fever.  I went back to work, really only to say I needed to go home early.  We spent the rest of the day snuggling, watching movies, and sleeping. 

It was a stomach bug.  Nothing to do with Curious George.   Here’s the thing though, what really gave me anxiety about the whole prelude to the stomach flu was that I didn't know whether or not I could believe her.  Take in mind, I didn't tell her “oh you’re fine” or “you’re not sick.”  My version of disbelief was “I think you’ll be okay” and “let’s see what happens.”   Which, I know, is hardly criminal.  But it’s kind of the principle.  When your kids says they’re hurting, shouldn't you just take it at face value?  Isn't that a cornerstone of kids learning to trust that their parents?

There are piles of literature espousing the value of listening to your kids. The thing is, I think most of us are trying to listen.  Turns out though, there’s a lot of static when you’re trying to figure out what’s going on with your kid.  As a parent, you’re not just listening to words, your gauging behavior, eating habits, the color of their tongue… and you don’t always get it right. 

Now when you ask Morgan if her stomach hurts she gives a resounding “no, all better now!”  Phew.  I learned when my kid says her tummy hurts, it does.  End of story.