Fact or fiction?
It sounds horrible but the most difficult thing about being PuffyFingers parent at the moment is knowing when to believe her.
As a child did you ever exaggerate the symptoms of a cold, or a tummy ache? Especially to get out of something that you didn't want to do? Maybe you didn't want to go to school when you'd not finished your homework? I think most people will know what I'm talking about. I remember hearing on the radio in a listener's true confessions spot of one child who actually had their appendix removed because of an entirely fictional tummy ache.
PuffyFingers has discovered early that telling us something hurts will lead to:
- Tylenol - which she likes. Children's drug manufacturers walk a difficult line. The medicine must be palatable enough that a child will swallow it; but not so good the child wants to eat it for dinner.
- Questions. "Where does it hurt?" "Put your finger on the bit that hurts" "How badly does it hurt?"
- Possibly getting out of some activity.
Last weekend we had tears at football over the sore finger. This weekend we had reluctance to even go to football; the reason given was "My knee hurts when I run, Mummy"
Hmm, I think. Two weeks running with a fuss about football. Maybe this is a football thing and not an arthritis thing. She's in a class with all boys, most of whom are bigger than her and a lot of them are better at football than her (Puffyfingers doesn't like not being good at things, and has been known to persist to the point of injury to master something). I give her Tylenol, just in case. And we go to the sports hall anyway as LMI also has a lesson. Then we spend 15 minutes sat at a picnic bench in the sports hall...
I ask her if there are any other reasons why she doesn't want to play. I talk to her about the importance of telling me the truth so that I know that I can believe her when she needs me to believe her. I tell her that if she doesn't like football for other reasons that's OK and she can tell me. I will not be cross with her whatever she tells me, as long as it's true. Then I give her a choice:
- I can go to the desk and cancel all her football classes, and try to get a refund. She won't have to ever go again.
- I can go to the desk and ask if there's another class available; with either more girls or a less experienced group.
- She just goes and plays, and if her knee hurts badly then she can come off the field and stay with me to watch LMI's lesson.
She chooses number 3.
She appears to have fun. She does lots of running with no obvious limp or sign of discomfort.
And I worry and hope I did the right thing.