My oh-I’m-so-sick-I’m-probably-dying-but-I’m-still-well-enough-to-kick-my-sister-in-the-head daughter is stretched out on the surprisingly small (has it shrunk ?) exam table at her pediatrician’s office. Following some advice I read in a parenting magazine, or heard from a friend, or saw on a website, I don’t usually come back with her anymore. But, today I’ve come back to help her remember her long, long, long list of symptoms. Day three of the worst illness ever has brought us here.
The nurse takes down the aforementioned list of symptoms, and then leaves the room. As she leaves, she takes Claire’s file with her and slides it into the space designed for it on the outside of the door.
“Last time I was here, they left my file on the counter instead of taking it out with them,” Claire tells me. “So, I read it.”
“Well, there’s nothing in there you can’t see,” I tell her. I imagine what she might have read. Her list of immunizations? Her weight and height through the years? The times she’s tested positive and negative on strep cultures and pink eye swabs?
“There was a note in there from Mrs. Stevenson,” she says. And I remember her second grade teacher and I sitting together, discussing my daughter,trying to figure out what was going on with a seven year old who couldn’t seem to remember anything said to her, but who retained every single thing she ever read.
“It said that whenever I was line leader I never stopped where I was supposed to stop. I just kept going.”
“Oh, I remember that,” I tell her. Seven years ago– when we tried so hard to nail down a diagnosis of ADHD or auditory processing disorder, but never found anything that really fit–now seems so long ago. Claire and I laugh a little, remembering the past frustrations…those of the teacher, of my husband and I, and of Claire, herself.
And then I think of the girl she’s grown to be–a girl who has been sick for three days but who has been in constant contact with her teachers so she won’t fall behind, a girl who took a full load of honors classes with no study hall and no limit on her extra-curricular activities, a girl who gets up early every Saturday–no matter how late she stayed out the night before–to volunteer at the local food pantry. And I realize that the true diagnosis was right there all along: she just can’t be stopped.
And I make a vow to remember this about her the next time she has worn me out with her constant movement, her endless energy.
And then I look at her, stretched out across the table with her legs swinging, her renewed energy showing that she’s already feeling so much better than she did when I made this appointment only a few hours ago.
And I give myself permission to sometimes forget that vow.