Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Thank Heavens for Other Mothers...

Boy #2 is normally such a happy, contented little chap. He bumbles around, humming to himself, playing with his trains, following his brother from one end of the flat to the other, telling stories to his playmobil figurines.

But he was ill last week, and despite the fact that - apart from the remains of a nasty cough - he's now recovered, he's not been himself since. He's been tired, fretful, and not wanting to go anywhere. And this morning he cried all the way from dropping off his brother until we reached the nursery.

Now, Boy #1 I might have expected this from. He's always been a delicate flower, and even now might have the odd wobble on the way to school. But his younger brother? Usually as happy as the day is long (assuming things are going his way, but that's another story...).

As a mum, this is when you - or at least, I - start second guessing yourself.

Is he still ill? (Temperature; normal. Eyes; focussed. Breakfast; eaten. Brother; wound up.) No, not still ill.

Is he unhappy? Clearly. But why?

Me: "Use your words, Boy #2. What's the matter?"

Boy #2: "I. Don't. Want. To. Go!"

Me: "That, I know. But why?"

Boy #2: "Because I DON'T!"

Me: "What is it it that you don't like about school?"

Boy #2: "Nothing."

Me: "What do you like at school?"

Boy #2: "NOTHING!"

Me (casting about desperately for distraction): "Mr L is coming to nursery today! Lot's of dancing and singing, won't that be fun?"

Pause. He thinks about it.

Boy #2: "Well.... NO! Want. to. go. HOME!"

Me: "We can't go home, Boy #2, it's a school day."

Conversation starts over again, repeat to fade.

Now, I know it's the right thing for him to go to nursery. I know he enjoys it when he gets there. I know he's happy when I pick him up. But I just feel like such a heel, pushing him through this. And I waver. Maybe I should take him home? Maybe something terrible is going on that I know nothing about? (Rest assured; it's not. The nursery is faultless. This is tired mummy paranoia kicking in to the nth degree. Next I will be worrying that he is developing malaria or bilharzia, both of which are relatively new to my worry spectrum since we booked flights to Egypt and I made the mistake of reading the 'Dangers and Annoyances' section of the Lonely Planet guide).

Thankfully, I bumped into 2 other similarly conflicted mothers outside the school who, without being prompted, told me how tired their children were, how it was a struggle to get them out of bed in the morning, and how much everyone needs half term next week.

And there it was; a simple explanation which blew away all the worries. I was so grateful that it wasn't just Boy #2 that I almost hugged them right there on the street.

Now all I have to do is stop worrying about global warming and the recession, both of which are so far outside my control that even I have to accept my impact on them will be slight, and I'm sorted....


  1. Aren't you more likely to be exchanged for camels in Cairo than catch bilharzia?

    Could be interesting trying to explain that on the streets of South Ken!

  2. Mud, there are a million things that are more likely than catching bilharzia, but sadly that is the one that seems to have lodged in my subconscious...

  3. I have had this exact same problem this week.
    My 6 year old has been all trivial tears and hugs and 'I hope it snows again so there is no school' and last night he announced through sobs 'I've had such a terrible day'. I could have cried myself.
    Of course, by morning he's bouncing around again but by jove it's tough hearing those 'breakdowns'. He does actually NEED half term!

  4. Last night Jonathan poked at his ear and said "boo-boo." So now I'm sitting here wondering: "Does his ear hurt? is he in pain? Should I call the dr?"

    He seems fine otherwise, but I worry about him getting an ear infection. We haven't had one in over a year...but could it be one?

    I guess what I'm saying is that I can so relate to all your worries...including those about money and global warming and ....etc., etc., etc.

  5. Cure for cranky kids - warm bath and early bed time. I still do it with my teenagers! Works every time.

  6. Tara, true, they do. Though I'm not sure I do...

    J's Mommy, yep. Let me tell you, it just gets worse, because once they CAN tell you what's wrong, they often make it up. Just for fun, you understand...

    EPM, we are singing from the same hymn book. Boy #2 has been in bed an hour early for the last 2 nights. Still cranky, but it has to start working soon, right? Right?

  7. I'm sorry, PM, that you're going through this. I used to give my kids a mental health day, which meant they got to say home with me one day when they were like that. It usually helped and I made the day extra special with special treats and favors. They got to lounge in their pajamas if they wanted to all day long.

  8. My nearly three year old is exactly the same at the moment, when asked to put his school t-shirt on he resolutely refused and went back to his Thomas trains. As for the 4 year old she has also had lows now she is at school all day but I am told by other Mothers, with older children that it does pass and that I might even be granted a lie-in until 8am. Pigs flying and all that.

  9. My younger son was seldom ill but when he was it always took ages for him to 'pick up' again afterwards. My local Health Visitor suggested a mild tonic. So, at my wits end with the totally out-of -character whinging, I tried giving him Minadex which is just vitamins, minerals and a little iron and it worked! If half term doesn't do the trick perhaps that may be worth trying. I think it's still available, if not, I'm sure there'll be something similar on the market.

    Global warming? No 'magic' cure for that unfortunately, as thousands of poor souls in Victoria and Queensland know only too well at the moment ;-(

  10. This is where I play my "think of me" card.

    The American school year is 2 terms: August 23rd to Christmas with 2 days off in Oct, and 3 days off in Nov. Then Jan 5th to end of May, with a week off at the end of March. I can't TELL you how much I miss half-terms and holidays. We have WEEKS of tired child syndrome. And the school day is 8.00am to 3.00pm.

    Just fishing for sympathy here. Unashamedly.

  11. I can almost hear it. No, wait, that is just me reliving hearing it all the way to preschool this morning.

    I feel your pain. If only I had a cause for my guys unhappiness. Hope all is well again soon.

  12. Irene, I'm sure we'll get there!

    H Mel, those Thomas trains... Not sure whether to love or loathe them (I think it's the former but sometimes it's a close-run thing!)

    Hi Sharon, funny enough I went out yesterday and bought them some chewable vitamins - we'll see if they help.

    Iota, you have my sympathy, unreservedly. Why do they do that? It seems so hard on everyone.

    Thanks Ped - and I hope with you too.


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