For the last several days at school, Luke has been going to the nurse with a stomach ache. He has been going at the same time every day, which leads us to believe something is triggering these aches whether real or fake.
That puts me in a quandary. Do I risk not listening to his complaints of discomfort only to find out later that he has some real medical problem? Or do I risk not seeking the deeper meaning and continue to subject him to something at school that is obviously causing him enough grief to miss some of his favorite things at school (gym and music).
So, I've been questioning him. "Is there someone bothering you? Is the teacher upsetting you? Is there something you are having a hard time with that you would rather not do? Is there anything you're not happy with at school? Tell me anything, you will not get in trouble and I can help."
Each of these questions was answered with a "That's not it. My stomach really hurt."
So I had to stop asking. I don't want Luke to think that I don't trust or believe him. If that ever happens, he'll never confide in me.
John and I figured out Luke hadn't gone Number 3 in a really long time. So we started feeding him copious amounts of raisins, apples and grapes. And that did the trick. We tried to convince him that was the source of his stomach ache and that he would not need to go the nurse anymore. "We'll see," he said.
I gently discussed the boy who cried wolf, and how using the nurse to miss something that he was trying to avoid could potentially make the nurse not listen to him closely when one day he is really, truly sick.
"But I was sick," was his response. Enough already. How many different ways can I ask him hoping to get a different answer?
Monday he came home from school very proud that he made it through the whole day without going to the nurse. Problem solved, I thought. Either the Number 3 or our talks did the trick.
So when I dropped him at school the next day, I told his teacher that I guess he really did have a stomach ache and the weekend activities solved that.
She said he had been standing by her desk at the same time that he had complained of stomach aches the week before. She asked him if he needed something. And he said, "My chin hurts. Can I go to the nurse?"
Did all of my questioning make him think that if he really had a stomach ache, he wouldn't get to go to the nurse because we wouldn't believe him but he did have a stomach ache so came up with a different ailment? Or did he come up with a different ailment because he needed to miss what was coming up in class and knew we were on to him? Problem not solved, and more confusing than ever.
A couple of things I know for sure: Something is going on at school that upsets him enough that he either gets a stomach ache from the stress of it or makes up the stomach ache to get out of it; and he is not yet ready to share what that is. And, we're in for a wild ride with him if at 5 years old he can analyze the situation and come up with a brand new ailment knowing we wouldn't buy the stomach ache complaint. At least the "my chin hurts" ailment was pretty see through. Hopefully all of his future parental deceptions are this transparent.