Please take a moment to read this warning about an epidemic affecting 7- to 18-year-olds across the nation.
They call it IDWS (I Dun Wannagoda Skool). My son has a chronic case of it, and it appears to be going around. Apparently, it affects the tummy leg and, in rare cases, the elbow.
Jack dislikes elementary school, as did his mother before him and her father before her. It may be genetic. Plus, I was the kid who complained of tummy aches on a daily basis and spent more time in the nurse’s office than in reading group, which makes it hard not to overtly empathize with him. My vain attempts to make the first, second, third and fourth grade, which he’s currently in, sound fun are thin veils over my bitter repressed memories.
Let’s be honest. Unless you're one of those nerdy kids who likes to stay quiet and screams “yippee” when the teacher give extra homework, elementary school does kinda suck. Preschool was fun; you played, and then you played, and then you ate (while playing with your food), and then you napped, and then you played some more. Then you went on a playdate, and then you went to sleep and started again on Tuesday.
In elementary school you have to be quiet and sit still. You must control your shaking leg, your yapping mouth, your tapping finger, your automatic pencil clicking and your wandering mind. And that’s all before you’ve done a lick of work. It’s a tough gig.
Many mornings Jack is overcome with IDWS. His tummy hurts; his head hurts; his heart hurts. Being a neurotic hypochondriac, I’m usually somewhere between “give me a break” and “call 911!”
Well, this morning he had it bad. I knew last night I was going to give him a break, but to watch him work for it was half the fun.
“Ouch, my tummy! My leg. Oww, cry cry, my leg, oh my leg.” fall to ground grab leg and writhe in pain. “I can’t walk.”
“Jack, what’s the matter?”
“My leg hurts and also my elbow. Oww, my elbow. My elbow.”
Ah, the ever-popular elbow pain — always adds a layer of truism. Who is teaching him this? His father? Definitely not me. A few lessons from a seasoned pro like myself and he would never pull this elbow pain crap.
“Jack, this tummy-leg-elbow thing sounds bad! What hurts the most?”
“My elbow. No, now it's my leg… and tummy. Oh, they all hurt,” he whined, as he pulled the thermometer from his mouth for the 10th time.
“Still no temperature?”
“Oh, there’s a temperature Mom. It said 95. That’s high. That’s like boiling. Whoa, this time it said 98. I’m getting worse. Ow... my elbow.”
“Well, that is a temperature.”
I can’t wait to put in his absence excuse. Please excuse Jack. He had a 98 degree temperature, which as you know is almost boiling. Oh, and he had distinct, chronic elbow pain.
“It really hurts. I think need to lie down,” he said with the back of his hand to his forehead in a pretty good Scarlet O’Hara imitation.
“I know it hurts, but it’s probably growing pains. You’re getting taller, and apparently you’re going to have one huge monster elbow.”
“That’s not funny. I’m sick. My heart hurts… and my throat.”
I know. It was probably insensitive of me to joke at a time like that.
Soon he’ll discover the old thermometer-under-the-light trick, and when the display reads 107, I’ll gush at how high his fever is, like my parents before me did. Well, before they inevitably snickered among themselves.
Look, in my house, you get points for creativity. I once got away with wrapping a strawberry fruit rollup around my finger and sucking it off leaving a yucky red rash looking residue, which either fooled the nurse or impressed her with my resourcefulness. I know this because I got picked up that day after putting an ice pack on it. Or was it a hot-water bottle? Back then they treated everything with one or the other. Headache... icepack. Tummy ache... hot-water bottle. Stubbed toe... icepack followed by a hot-water bottle. My son rarely sees the hot-water bottle, but we do use a lot of icepacks. Yep, that elbow-itis isn’t going to cure itself.
Does Your Child Have IDWS?