Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I was sorely tested yesterday. And by "sorely", I mean, I have the bruises to prove it. I kept Joe-Henry home from school yesterday because he was really crabby when he woke up. He'd been coughing a lot in the night, and he was complaining of a pain in his back. So I let him sleep in, and took him to the doctor, even though I knew that he was more than likely, just worn out.

His lungs were clear, and the doctor determined that he was probably sore from climbing the rock wall. By this time, the pain in his back had migrated to his front, and even last night he complained of pain that woke him up.

Let me just say, that I have come a long way in six years. I've gone from taking him to the doctor for everything to, well, not as much. And since we've moved here, we've only gone four times, which for a hypochondriac like me, is practically cured. Granted, in the beginning, I had all kinds of excellent reasons to visit the doctor once a month or more - his kt, which is one of the most mysterious syndromes around, coupled with a bout of rsv that landed him in the hospital at two months old, followed by hypospadius repair surgery at 10 months old, as well as a diagnosis of "benign external hydrocephalus" - a link I won't include because I can't research it even six years later without hyperventilating, but in layman's terms, a big head just like his Dad. Needless to say, all these freak medical issues left me with a panic meter that was constantly in the red zone.

But yesterday, I was worried about the breathing and coughing, as well as the fact that his pain moved from his back to his chest, and he talked about his heart hurting. So I needed to make sure. I even knew, in the back of my head, that he was probably just fine. And he got a clean bill of health.

All this meant he spent a whole day with just me. He was still crabby and tired, and I don't know if all that rock climbing left him with a drop/raise in testosterone, but he was, and I say this with all love and devotion, a MONSTER.

I am so patient, up to a point. I put up with it, with the usual consequences, etc., until I just can't anymore. We didn't disintegrate to the level of previous battles, but it was close. When I was sitting on the couch, he'd sit on the end, then stand up and land, with all his bony angles on my soft parts. I told him to stop. He kept at it. He got punished. He'd try a different angle. By the time I got him in the bath, I was hanging on by a well-worn thread. He kept pushing it doing all the things that make me crazy - not listening and being, basically, a little shit. As he sat in the tub, dissing his mama, I muttered under my breath as I left the room "Ohhhhhh, I'd really like to leave right now."

Can you guess what happened? Can you? Because it went as you probably predicted, but even though I know my son's every nuanced mood, I wasn't prepared for it. How is that possible? I don't know, but sometimes the behavior of those we know and love most can still take us completely by surprise.

All he heard was "leave right now", and he let out a howl so deep, so frightened, so tragic I came running back to reassure him that I wasn't going anywhere. "MOM! You're our QUEEN! You can't leave us - we love you so much!" I lifted him soaking and sobbing from the tub and wrapped him in a towel. I shushed, I comforted, I held, but...
I didn't apologize.
If that makes me a shitty parent, so be it. But he has to learn that mommy is a person like everyone else. I know that mom's get the worst of it because a) we're usually around the most, and b) they trust us with those feelings, I know, I know, I know. But man, it wears me out.

We did manage to get to the other side of it, after one last big cry about how much he misses his friends in LA, and our old house. That broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. I asked him if he knew what day it was. Because exactly one year before, we pulled up to the little yellow rental house, with the beautiful lilacs in the yard, where Charley was jumping up and down with joy to see us. We talked about all the good things we'd miss if we left here, now: school, friends, Uncle Jim and Judy, Aunt Jan, Uncle Dan, his cousins, our house, our yard, the Discovery Museum. And he got it, he did.

Maybe all of this was just a six year old in mourning for the passage of time, of childhood, which knowing my old-soul of a boy, wouldn't really surprise me. But it could just as easily be that he was tired and had icecream for dessert.

Whatever the case, it's over, for now, and hopefully the next time the monster rears his gnarly head, I'll have time to put on shin guards and a helmet.


Lolabola said...

Apologize! no way. I thought it was great that you didn't. I confess I thought he might have thrown a rubber duckie at you. That's what would've happened if I were him and well we won't go into where that would've taken my mom. I'm always amazed that you get to the other side.

anniemcq said...

Lolabola - my brother told me about the time he bit my mom on her rear end because she wasn't getting him a glass of water fast enough. He didn't sit down for about a week.
Ahhhh, those were the days!
I honestly believe that kids beg for discipline and structure, and I know that when Joe-Henry is acting like that, he wants me to be consistent (I am), and he wants to know how far he can push me (he finds out). But they're like cyborgs - they keep learning new tricks, so you have to adapt your strategy all the time!