Most seasoned parents face their kids’ medical emergencies with a calmness generally unavailable to new parents. My neighbors are new parents. A few weeks ago I met them coming back from the urgent care with their 2 year old son. They looked haggard.
The mom was sheepish regarding how hard she’d panicked over what turned out to be a skin rash. I assured her the first trip to the ER/urgent care is terrifying and not to beat herself up over it.
In the past 24 hours both Felicia and I have had kids develop relatively serious medical issues. We have talked to each other about the issues and how we and our respective kids are dealing with the issues. We have been calm and matter of fact and supportive.
But inside, I am a gibbering mass of anxiety. Maybe other parents are genuinely calm, cool and collected during out of the ordinary medical problems. And on the surface I am all a seasoned parent should be. I ask questions and actually listen to the answers, I assure everyone everything will be fine and I eat food when it is presented to me rather than slapping it out of the person’s hand while screaming, “How do you expect me to eat at a time like this?”
Inside, I am wailing and gnashing my teeth and wanting to snatch my children back to their babyhood where I can keep a close 24/7 watch over them. I want to keep them fed and hydrated and warm and entertained. I want to buy them all the little snacks they like and fuss with their covers and stare intently at their faces to reassure myself that their color is good and they aren’t developing a fever.
I want to hover and cuddle and will them back to health.
For children over a certain age this is not only inappropriate, it might be illegal.
I should win a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for all the times I have played the part of the seasoned parent. Mild-mannered. Matter of fact. Expression 75% serious and 25% just slightly amused, an expression I have copied from watching medical dramas on TV.
Do not be fooled.
Until I get a report that my child is back on their usual medical footing, inside I will remain a nervous wreck. And that’s just the way it is and probably will be until the day I die. My kids will be middle-aged and inside I will be fussing and clucking and worrying while outside I will assure them that everything is probably fine but to go see their doctor just to be sure.
And then I will have two vodka martinis for dinner and fret until dawn.