First, Alex came down with “it.” The observable symptoms included coughing, sinus congestions and drainage, intermittent fever, lethargy, and vomiting. Then, Ben caught “it.” He had the same symptoms. Now, Willy has it. And now we know a bit more about what “it” is from the perspective of the one experiencing the malady.
Willy described his initial symptoms as a head-ache. Then, the vomiting started. Now, his throat hurts, but his head and stomach seem okay. He’s also experiencing intermittent fever, like his brothers did. But he doesn’t have the cough or the runny nose. So, either Willy has something different, or his brothers had both the cough/cold along with “it.” The latter seems most likely.
While this is a relatively simple example, one of the most difficult things involved with parenting a child who experiences a communication barrier is this inability to really communicate when something is going wrong with them. There are certainly much worse examples. A child who is being bullied can generally talk about it (whether or not they will is another issue), but a child who experiences communication barrier cannot do so or cannot always do so. This creates a chronic worry. The same is true for other forms of abuse. Unless there are identifiable physical markers we just don’t know what to suspect and so that nagging worry remains a constant in the backs of our minds while we do everything we know how to do to keep our children safe.
I often hear parents mourn their child’s inability to tell them that he or she loves them. While I appreciate the significance of the words, children can communicate this in many ways. Hugs and kisses, the recognition in their face, and other forms of connection are proof that my two primarily non-verbal children feel and express love. For me, the possibilities of illness, injury or abuse are much more profound. Sometimes they can find ways to communicate these things; but often the means of communication are inadequate. “Acting out” is a warning sign, for example; but it’s a warning sign for so many things. Unless you can find facts, sometimes you just don’t know and there is no way for them to tell you. And that’s what I consider the scariest thing of all.
These minor illnesses are just a reminder. As if I could ever forget.