My children, as much as I love them, are often histrionic. Everything is a big deal when it comes to pain. Cuts are treated like they are hemorrhages. Coughs and colds include days of moaning, crying, and wailing. You’d think they had the bubonic plague. A coworker told me that her son had a 103 fever, MRSA, RSV, and something else with multiple letters and played like nothing was wrong. My kids would act like they were on their death bed. I have a hard time judging the severity of their illnesses when they occur. I sometimes seem uncaring when they are screaming and carrying on. I often don’t believe them. The elementary school nurse and I are on a first name basis. I’m sure she may have considered calling social services on me when I didn’t run to the school as fast as I can when my son fell on his ass after trying to jump over a bike rack and rated his pain level a 10. As someone who has been asked to rate her pain way too many times the past 6 months, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at his response.
Tonight, my oldest starts wailing, screaming, and dramatically clutching his stomach minutes before we leave for a dinner at a friend’s house. His stomach hurts. He either has appendicitis, needs to use the bathroom, or is just hungry. What to do? My husband takes the rest of the crew to the dinner. My son and I head to urgent care, as he wails the whole way in the car. This is the second time in the past 6 months that I have shown up to urgent care dressed for an evening out. The first time I was wearing a sequin dress ready for a fancy 50th birthday party at a rooftop lounge. We never made it to that party because my daughter fractured her arm. As for tonight, we put our name on the Urgent Care list that had a “74 to 86 minute” wait to be exact & returned home to wait it out. I made him a bowl of spaghetti, turned on the television, and 20 minutes later, he was miraculously cured. We electronically take our name off the list and head to our friend’s house, where he eats a second dinner and runs around like a banshee.
How do you know when a child’s illness or injury is legit and when it isn’t? There is no easy answer to this. Intuition, knowing your children’s behavioral patterns, and not catastrophizing their symptoms is important. If you are calm, the child may calm down. Hysteria may lead to more hysteria. Children often feed off of our reactions and our panic can exacerbate their feelings & behavior. However, when in doubt about your kid’s (or your own) health, definitely have it checked out!