It started with a tummy ache about a month ago. After several days of listless eating and complaints, and a couple of middle of the night visits in to our bedroom with tears, I took Gray to the doctor. Of course when we got into the office he was feeling fine. Because that’s just how it goes.
Doc ruled out scary things like appendix and gall bladder infections and said that many kids of this age (7) get tummy aches from constipation. He told me to keep track of the pooping this kid is doing and check back in at the end of the week.
Long story short (ish): the kid wasn’t pooping. At least according to him. Weeks went by and I got to know the laxative aisle in the local drug store pretty well. I also got over feeling the need to explain that ‘it’s not for me, it’s for my kid‘ with every purchase. Everybody poops (or, everyone should poop).
We tried everything from super basic laxatives (Miralax) to enemas, to finally Magnesium Citrate (the stuff they give to adults before a colonoscopy), all to little or no avail.
I grew increasingly panicked about the issue as time went on. Would his bowels explode? Would poop start coming out his nostrils? Would he fall over dead on the toilet with 30 pounds of impacted fecal matter in his intestines like Elvis?
Eventually we went back to the doctor (after near daily phone check-ins) and had an x-ray of his abdomen done. The x-ray didn’t show a huge blockage and the doctor said because his stomach wasn’t rigid and he felt fine and was still eating, it wasn’t too big of a scary issue yet.
Finally the doctor concluded my kid must be lying. His logic made sense. He said if he really hadn’t pooped in three weeks he’d be severely ill or dead, but here my kid was, eating dinner every night and asking for snacks, sleeping fine, feeling great.
Here’s where it gets tricky. I’m a mom. With that title comes a fierce and largely unshakeable loyalty to your children. I consider myself generally reasonable, but I’m not immune to the knee-jerk of defensiveness when someone else is saying something negative about my spawn.
That all said, it’s not like the little shit hasn’t proven himself capable of total and utter lying liar-pantsnessocity in the past. While getting ready to write this post I looked in my archives for a post about Gray when he was three that involved the shower, a shampoo bottle and pee, but apparently I didn’t write that one down, which was a serious mistake. I’m not going to go into the whole thing here, but basically Gray was left to his own devices in the shower for just long enough to ‘refill’ a previously almost completely empty shampoo bottle with a yellow liquid. When I discovered it he swore up and down he had not peed in the bottle up until right after the point where I drew a line in the sand and said, “Well then, if it really is shampoo, I’ll just dump it on your head, OK?” Suffice it to say he learned not to play chicken with me. (I feel like the term ‘golden shower’ would be appropriate here, in a literal sense. But, you know, EW.) But I learned my middle child will stand by his word to his own detriment, even if it’s a total fabrication, god love him.
So I stood, last Friday, on the proverbial fence of indecision about my kid. On one side was the likely possibility that being the extremely emotionally private and guarded child of his extremely emotionally private and guarded father (you’d think we’d mix together and have normal children, but you’d be wrong) he didn’t feel comfortable discussing his pooping habits (much less showing them to me) so he’d just decided to lie. On the other was the fact that he was swearing up and down and right and left that he hadn’t pooped, plus we’d given him so many laxatives, wouldn’t we have seen him running to the bathroom every 10 minutes if he was really just normal?
Our pediatrician (who I adore) suggested the only thing left to do at this point was to bribe him. Pay him to poop, I was told. We just need proof he’s actually going or the only thing left to do is hospitalize and scope him.
And thus, a policy was put into effect: $2 per poop I actually see in the toilet for the next week.
Yep, you guessed it: he pooped twice in one day. *SIGH*
It’s a funnier if I end it right there, but something, whether it be my logic, intuition or even possibly just my knee-jerk defensiveness of my children that refuses to hang up its hat, forces me to conclude the story still isn’t as simple as a seven year old who just is a really committed liar.
We started with a stomach ache, after all. What of the original stomach ache? And the kid is no dummy; maybe at three he couldn’t see that the lie about the pee was eventually going to end up on his own head, but at 7, he puts things together pretty well. I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have realized sooner that it was in his own benefit to let me know he was pooping. He’s been hospitalized before, he knows it’s not fun. In the middle of all of this there was a large looming threat that he wasn’t going to be able to visit Fairy Grandma Linda in Texas (her house is like Disneyland to the kids) over spring break if we didn’t get this all figured out. If he was really lying the whole time, all he had to do was let me know there was pooping going on and it would have all been OK. He must have known that.
So, as with anything in parenting, it’s still not really clear what’s going on or if he has issues. And so far, after 4.5 days of the poop bribing, he’s only earned $4. But I feel a little better that he’s not going to end up like Elvis.
This is why I drink.