The morning started off much like every other weekday morning. It was a Monday and my husband merrily waved goodbye as he set out for work leaving me to wrangle our two three-year olds into getting dressed, into eating breakfast, and, eventually, into the car. Once that was accomplished, I assumed I was good to go.
We were about half-way to daycare when my son announced that he needed to go to the doctor. Since he was running around like a maniac moments earlier, I was dubious. When his alleged ailment went from a sore ear, to a sore elbow, to a sore throat, my skepticism continued to grow.
He threw a colossal fit when I tried to drop him off. A fit that was on such a grand scale, I really wavered about leaving him. He and his sister love daycare and, normally, as soon as they have each granted me my requisite hug and kiss they are literally shooing me out the door so that they can get on with their day. His tantrum was totally out of character, so I was concerned, but really reluctant to give in to it. I left him, still hollering, after reassuring the childcare provider that I was in the office that day and that, if he did not improve, she could reach me there.
I wasn’t at work for long before I got the phone call and headed back to daycare feeling like the worst mother on the planet. He was, I was advised, still beside himself and demanding to see a doctor. The guilt when I saw his little swollen-eyed face was unbelievable. How could I have possibly doubted that angelic little boy? Something must be wrong.
By the time I got him to the car, the tears had disappeared. As we drove to the walk-in clinic, he was yabbering away and getting perkier by the minute. Walking into the clinic, he was practically dancing beside me and he had something to say to almost everyone we walked by. He apparently felt it was his job to provide comic relief to the waiting room full of sick people.
Needless to say, my suspicions had returned.
I hesitantly handed his health card over and anchored him on my hip in order to keep him stationary. When he actually stuck his head through the little window at reception and advised that, “he was all better” I knew I had been scammed by a three-year old. As I made a sheepish but relieved retreat, he gleefully, and at the top of his lungs, told his waiting room audience, “I am a pain in the butt” (guffaws all around) and then quite happily got returned to daycare. He shooed me out the door as usual and we haven’t had a problem since.
Moral of the story: Listen to your children but keep in mind that even your own angel-faced cherub of adorableness may have a hidden agenda for saying some of the things he or she is saying.
In my case, I honestly think my son had just really enjoyed his weekend and, on that particular Monday morning, he did not want the weekend to end.
For separated parents, it may be wise to remember that the stories children tell about what goes on in the other parent’s home may not always be 100% accurate. Events may get distorted and exaggerated when conveyed from a child’s perspective and, when there is conflict, a child may be seeking to please one parent by speaking negatively about the other.
I am not suggesting that anyone should ever ignore or dismiss what a child is saying. I certainly don’t regret verifying that the elbow/ear/throat ailment was an elaborate hoax. I am suggesting that children do, on occasion, give parents a skewed version of reality and that it may be worthwhile to consider that as a possibility before making your own accusations and leaping into action.