Ugh. I have been sick for going on three weeks now. It is hitting ridiculous territory. I have a cough that has kept me up for about 10 days. I cough all night. Last night, Papa Bird said that he could not sleep at all (ZOMG!!!!1111!!) because my coughing kept him up all night. My painful, throat burning coughing kept him up all night. I wanted to peck his eyes out, but I have not the energy nor the wherewithal to be so inappropriately violent.

Owl is also sick, poor thing. Incidentally, I can never seem to just say that one of my children is sick without adding the “poor thing” clause. It’s similar to when Papa Bird gets sick, except then the clause is “God help me.”  Owl has a very unrelenting stomach virus at the moment. I will spare the world the details, but it seems very uncomfortable, is very messy and has turned his ‘tocks into the color and consistency of raw hamburger meat. I’ve been slathering Desitin on by the handful, but to no avail. It is painful to look at and most be even more horrible to sit upon. Two weeks ago, he had an ear infection and I took him in to the doctor for a check-up. He was given antibiotics, so I am sure that primed his stomach for even worse diarrhea now that he has the stomach bug. Plus? I took him to the doctor again yesterday for another check-up and he still has redness in his ear, so the infection may not have gone away. Which may explain this weekend’s fever. Or not. So now I have another prescription for antibiotics, but wait – won’t that just create a case of diarrhea so intense that no diaper can contain it? Methinks I will check in with his pediatrician for his thoughts. We didn’t see his pediatrician yesterday. We went into one of those urgent care places. They were nice and I don’t really doubt their expertise, but I’d like to check with his doc anyways. I guess maybe I do doubt their expertise a little, huh?

Penguin is doing well but I had a – well I don’t know how to characterize this experience. Penguin has always had bowel issues. Always. On Monday, I brought him to the doctor to talk about this and see how we might proceed with testing and treatment. Specifically, I brought him to a gastro doc. We spent about 4 seconds talking about his bowels and then the conversation took an unexpected, very different direction. Penguin does not like being in a doctor’s office. He thinks they are distressing and he worries that he will get shots or bloodwork. Conversely, he wants nothing to do with anyone working there and will do anything in his power to avoid contact with the providers. He’ll go so far as to turn his head and close his eyes. So we are talking about poop for a short moment (as you do) and the doctor abruptly says, “”Uh, he is very shy. I wonder if he doesn’t have sensory issues.” What now? He then proceeded to ask me questions about his shyness, his habits, etc.

Now, on one hand, I know from whence this line of questioning comes. Penguin gets very shy and somewhat distressed in new environments and with new adults. He’s anxious. He doesn’t like change because he finds the new or unexpected stressful. But then, so do I. I am pretty sure this doctor was hinting at autism or something on the spectrum, but I just don’t see it. Penguin is an intense, sensitive child. But I really see anxiety and the first little whiffs of OCD – maybe – not something on the spectrum. Papa Bird is extremely shy and loathes social interaction. He is also very anxious. He has OCD. I am a very anxious person and also shy, though my seemingly contrasting extroverted nature masks it quite a bit. I have OCD as well. Outside I am smiling and chatty. Inside my stomach is turning and my heart is racing. I hide it well, but I break down in front of those that know me best (I am looking at you, Nana Bird).  I know why there is an inclination to look to the spectrum disorders with little boys. And I think that he will face some challenges, as will we as his parents. But what I see, what I feel to be true, is the somewhat anticipated stirrings of anxiety and OCD. I imagine that in the young, to the untrained, inexperienced eye, autism and anxiety might look similar. But what he feels, I think I feel. I think Papa Bird feels. Grandpa Bird feels. Nana Bird feels (minus the OCD, lucky lady).  There is the desire to pathologize and – it is true – Penguin is turned up to eleven. But it is a known pathology, I think. As familiar to all of us as our own skin.

I can remember, when I was in kindergarten (I was a young kindergartener at age 4), I was very distressed by some of the experiences. I loathed recess. Loathed lunch time. Loathed naps. I wanted to run and hide and be away from all of that. I feared a lot. I was curious and adventurous, but also cautious and scared. Papa Bird was similar. It’s a complicated personality, but it is ours.

So, I didn’t necessarily bristle at the idea that there is something lurking in the cognitive shadows of my son’s mind. I am sure that there is. His likelihood of experiencing anxiety and OCD are quite great given the familial history. Owl, too. I believe that it is significantly possible that anxiety and OCD will be something he must learn to live with. Something we must learn to parent. I don’t think I am being stubborn. I don’t think I am being resistant, nor do I think I am in denial. In this case, I believe the doctor was looking for a zebra and ignored the horse that clippity-clopped into the room. Call it clinical gut. Or, maybe, 36 years of experience on the matter.

I may take Penguin for a visit with a child psychologist. Or maybe I will talk to one by myself.  Or maybe not. I haven’t decided yet.