03 October 2011

Built-In Obsolescence

I spent Saturday night in bed with Five. He had lain on the couch for most of the day, complaining of stomach pain and a headache. I felt his forehead, examined his pale, wan body (which is always pale, but rarely wan), and noticed excessive swelling on his arm. Ah ha! He had gone for his yearly physical on Friday, and received his flu shot. His aches and pains were a reaction to the vaccine. He developed a fever during dinner, and went to bed shortly afterward. I gave him a Tums and rubbed his back. He fell asleep within ten minutes, and rose thirty minutes later.

Five is a sleepwalker.

Our first experiences with this behavior were much more frightening. Five would come running, terrified, out of his room. I would grab him and try to get him to recognize  me, but he was locked in a nightmare. I could feel his heart racing, and there was nothing I could do to calm him down. Eventually, I would carry him back to bed, and spend the night working to keep him in it.

The night terrors have subsided, and now the sleepwalking only occurs when he is ill. It still takes me a minute to recognize it. His first time out of bed last night, he came and found me in the kitchen. He didn't say anything when I asked if he was okay, so I took him to the bathroom and back to bed. He was up again in an hour. The Captain got him that time, and they had a brief conversation.

"You have to pick up the pieces."

"Okay, Five."

"But they're really small. And they're everywhere."

"Okay, Five, we'll get them in the morning."

"But they're small."

That's when I climbed in bed with him. Later that night he told me, "They were right about the tree." And twice he woke up and said, "I'm scared." Then he would roll over and wrap his arms around mine, clutching me to him. I was in Four's bed, which you may recall is pushed next to Five's, but not flush. I draped my body across the five inch gap between the mattresses, laying on my outstretched arm for most of the night, because my baby needed me.

I joke about how dramatic Five is, and  impossible to please. But the truth is, he's just honest. When he tells me "school is torture, Mom, six-and-a-half hours of torture," that's how he feels right at that moment. I appreciate that he shares his feelings, because that emotional candor doesn't age well. I have no idea what's going on with Two most of the time. I imagine all is well in his world, but he doesn't divulge details. I get a little more information from Three, but I think he only shares it to get ahead of any potential negative fall-out.

The teenagers don't ask me for help with anything other than homework. The other day Two was sick, and he asked if his girlfriend could come over.

"No, Two. It would be rude to share your germs."

"I don't want to make-out; I just want her to comfort me."

I've been officially replaced.

I know this is part of growing up. The boys have to learn to negotiate their way through life. But it's exactly at this point in their lives that I could be their greatest resource. I remember my teen years acutely. I've made more mistakes than I hope they ever will. I want to help them make the right decisions.

But Five is the only one reaching for me in the dark.


  1. Anonymous3.10.11

    Every time I read your blog, I always think, damn, this woman is a good mama. Your boys are lucky to have you, even if they think they are too old to run to you when they aren't feeling well. You've raised them to become strong and independent, but they know you'll be there if they need you.

  2. Night terrors. I think they are called terrors because of how they scare the shit out of the kid's parents when they happen. You sound like you are doing an awesome job as a parent; now go take a nap!

    I did have to snicker at the "I don't want to make out, I want her to comfort me" comment. Yeah, and how do you think a teen-age girl will comfort you, buddy? I was a teen-age girl, there may not be tongues involved, but bodily contact will happen.

  3. Beautiful post, Megan. It brought a tiny tear to my eye. (Although - truth be told - many of your posts do that.). Hope Five is feeling better soon, for both of your sakes.

    But I had to chuckle at the notion of the big ones not needing you. As someone who has tried to fill your dainty sneakers from time to time, I can attest to the fact that all of your boys are unmoored without you. They might be too old to admit it, but take my word for it. You are approximately as obsolete as sun and water!

  4. All right, now that I'm not thoroughly depressed anymore (because it's coming for me soon), I came back to say: Awwwwwwwww.

  5. @bonafidebetty: And when I read your blog, I think the same! Actually, I think you're more amazing, because you're going to school. My brain doesn't attempt anything beyond middle school math.

    @KarenB: Yes, I also recognized the ambiguity of "comfort." Unfortunately for Two, the girlfriend was unavailable that day. And I refused to comfort him after that.

    @Janet: Five was well enough to attend school, and his "Fall Spooktacular" class afterward. He is one of two boys, but felt quite comfortable crafting with the girls. He is the white Captain, after all.

    @Delia: I consider it my duty to live all this first, and prepare you.


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