It’s one of those moments that parents never think will happen to them, and then suddenly they find themselves in that moment wondering how they got there and what it will take to get them out. Last weekend, I sat beside my oldest daughter as she lay in a hospital bed, waiting for a doctor to come in and tell us why she was so sick.
It started out two days before looking like any other virus that kids catch: Fever, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite. But over time, that fever got higher and higher and she grew more and more lethargic. When the fever hit 104 degrees F, I took her into the Emergency Room, where the thermostat read 105. Now, it was getting serious.
It turns out that while she did have a cold, the fever was due to an acute kidney infection that spilled into her bloodstream. I had caught it early, but these things move quickly, especially in a kid.
There was one heartwarming part of this whole story, and that was when my daughter’s trust in me was tested time and again, with yet another poke or prod. She whimpered and pulled back as any child would do when the nurse announced that she would need another blood test. The nurse would then look at me and say that I will need to “hold her down” so that she could get this done. I don’t think so.
I gathered her up, told my daughter that she would need to be brave one more time, that this is what the doctors needed to do to figure out what was wrong and if the medicine was working, and held her arm out for the blood draw. And then I asked my daughter to look at me in my eyes and we sang all of her favorite songs together. And afterward, my daughter would tell me that she was being brave, wasn’t she?
Each nurse would comment on how wonderful it worked to have her sing, how that distracted her better than anything they’d seen work with other children. For my daughter, yes, singing worked to distract her. It would not work for my other daughter or my son, though. And it wasn’t a magic answer for my oldest daughter, anyway.
Every child is different, and what would work for one child may not or may work for another child. But what works for every child is to have a strong, secure attachment with their parents, so that they can trust that even if their mother says that this test is going to hurt a little bit, that the child trusts her to know that everything will be OK.
And it was.