Photo Credit : Istock.com/Nadezhda1906
My world fell apart when I discovered something alarming about my son.
It started out as an ordinary school day and I was doing what most Mummies do — standing outside the classes, chatting away about mundane issues while trying to remember the other Mum’s name when my son came out of class.
I was a bit anxious when I noticed that he was NOT smiling and was unusually quiet next to his chatty little sister. Back at home, I became more anxious when my usual chatter box mumbled “okay” and grumpily threw himself into the couch when I asked him about school.
“Did he have a fight with his mates at school? Did he get told off by a teacher?” I thought.
But he did not want to talk and went to his room to rest. Whoever heard of a child asking for a rest? That word has not been used since before Kindy days! I was panicking now. This is the boy who had a 42 degree temperature at 2 and still ran around in circles to the music of Hi-5.
I scrambled to find the thermometer and rushed into my son’s room where he was just lying in bed and listening to music. I stuck the thermometer into his ear and put my other hand on his forehead. No temperature. I checked his body for any spots or marks but there were none. Desperate, I did what most Mummies would do – I googled his symptoms.
Change in personality, moodiness, grumpiness—- all signs of a brain tumour. That MUST be it.
I was now in the throes of a medium sized panic! The Mulk reared her head!
I ran to my son’s room to check if he was still breathing, just like I used to do when he was a newborn fresh from the hospital, and he was still alive, thank goodness.
In fact, he was playing quietly with his Lego mini-figs. He looked up and rolled his eyes at me.
Rolling eyes, another new symptom, I noted.
He said quite rudely, “You didn’t knock.”
“Since when does Mummy have to knock on your door?” I said as I fussed around him.
I checked him again, much to his irritation. No red spots, or purple swelling, no cold sweat or strange slur. Not a brain tumour but obviously a head injury from a fall in the playground. He was just not behaving like his normal self. I checked his head for any signs.
“You must have fallen off and bumped your head. You are not yourself today,” I said.
“NO! I’m fine. Just LEAVE me ALONE!” he said crossly.
My heart exploded and I said the first Mummy mulk-thing that came to my head.
“Since you feel well enough to play with Lego, you have another 5 minutes before you have to start on your music practice!” I yelled.
“WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU SAY??? WHY???WHY??? WHY???” He screamed.
I was shocked at his outburst. This was my little boy who used to stand by the gates with his little brown teddy bear, waiting for me to come home. He would cry if I left his sight for one second. Something was definitely going on! He would never push me away.
The worst came to my mind. He’s being bullied! That was it! He’s been physically hurt by someone. But who? What? Where? I tried to hug him and ask him but, to my utter surprise, he pushed me away for the first time.
That’s it! He must be having a Personality disorder or something. This was somebody else who had taken over by my son’s body.
I quickly left the room and called my husband. But he, as usual, told me not to worry too much. By now, my anxiety was in overdrive as I googled some more and out popped even more psychological and physical disorders. Seven syllabic disorders that I could not even pronounce. I was sure he had all of them.
I was beside myself, and near to breaking down when, later in the evening, my husband came home and everything that took place that afternoon seemed as if it never happened at all.
My son was his usual cheery self now!
But I knew better – I was sure something was happening to my little boy. That’s what my Mummy mulk instinct was saying and I was determined to find out via the Mummy network.
So the next day, I spent the whole day calling other Mummies in my son’s class to find out if he has had a falling out with his mates.
I made an appointment with my son’s teacher. I was sure that he was being picked on by the older boys or having trouble with schoolwork.
I made another appointment with the family doctor. I was sure that he was coming down with some terrible disease.
I then made an urgent overseas call to my mother. I was sure that it was all my fault that he was falling out with his mates, being picked on, falling behind in school, and coming down with some disease.
When he came home that day, he was all chirpy and happy, like everything was okay. He picked up the phone and asked for his best mate’s number. After I told him, he dialled and started speaking to him. So far, everything was normal.
Then he saw me looking at him. He walked away to the TV room with the phone. I just so happened to need the newspaper which was there, so I followed him. When my son saw me there, he left and took the call in his room.
Now I happened to need to vacuum his room at this point. But the door was closed and there was a terrible sign on the door.
It read, “KEEP OUT, EVERYONE!”
He did not want me in his room meant that he was definitely hiding something! Drugs? Cigarettes? Alcohol?
I barged in. And my son started shouting.
“I want to be Alone, away from everyone. Away from YOU!” said my son and then he added, “I am going to be TEN, you know!”
I was devastated.
It was not drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol.
It was much much worse.
No, it was much worse, he did not NEED me anymore.
I left his room, with a heavy heart. That evening, he was his usual self again, as if nothing had happened. I was confused and hurt as he asked me to explain long division, how to pronounce and spell “allegiance”, and to listen to him play Le Dulce on his guitar.
Then it hit me — He was not falling out with his mates, or being bullied. He didn’t have some terrible disease. He was just being 10, a TWEEN. He needed his privacy, his own secrets, and his own space. Along with the moodiness, mood swings and intense emotions. He was growing to be his own person.
High-5 was now Le Dulca, Teddy Bear was now Lego Mini-figs, Drawing was now Long Division, being sticky with Mummy was now personal space and privacy.
When I tucked him into bed that night, he asked for his usual good night kiss and hug. As we hugged, my son whispered, “Good night, Mum.”
Wait, did he just call…me?…Don’t call me Mum, I wanted to shout. But it fizzled away as I felt the same warmth of his hug and drank in his boyish smell.
“Good night, my darling,” I whispered ever so quietly as I kissed him on his cheek.
There were some things that were going to change but there were some that would always stay the same.
As I kissed him on his cheek, I knew then that “Mummy” was now “Mum”.
© ELT 2015. All rights reserved